TECO’s plea to PH gov’t: ‘Remove Taiwan from travel ban’

By: Gabriel Pabico Lalu – Reporter / @GabrielLaluINQ

Taiwan has asked the Philippine government to reconsider its inclusion in the travel ban imposed amid the threats of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV).

The Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in Manila insisted that Taiwan is a sovereign state and not part of the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

“Taiwan issues its own passport and visas and has exclusive jurisdiction over its people and territory. In fact, Taiwan is not, nor has it ever been, part of the PRC,” TECO pointed out.

TECO also stressed that no other country in Asia has issued a travel ban on Taiwan, except for the Philippines.

“We urge the Philippine government to immediately correct its decision on Taiwan and remove Taiwan from the travel ban,” it appealed.

“It is a factual error for the World Health Organization (WHO) to regard Taiwan as a part of PRC. The Philippines should not be misled by WHO’s wrong information on Taiwan,” TECO added.

The Department of Health (DOH) on Monday said Taiwan is included in the temporary travel ban issued February 2 by the Philippine government on China, Macau, and Hong Kong.

Citing the One-China policy, Health Undersecretary Eric Domingo explained that President Rodrigo Duterte’s travel ban heeds the World Health Organization guidelines, which deems Taiwan as part of PRC.

Domingo clarified the matter amid “confusion” among members of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases on whether or not Taiwan is part of the temporary travel ban.

The temporary travel ban covers visitors coming from mainland China, Hong Kong, and Macau, and likewise bars Filipinos from traveling to these countries. The Philippines imposed these travel controls in a bid to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.

As a result, major airlines have canceled inbound and outbound flights between the Philippines and Taiwan.

Taiwan, also known as the Republic of China, separated when nationalist politician Chiang Kai-shek’s Kuomintang party was forced to relocate out of the mainland in the late 1940s after the communist movement led by Mao Zedong ran over the nationalist forces.

But even years after the civil war, mainland China – ruled by the Communist Party of China – is still claiming ownership of Taiwan, which has been a major cultural and technological hub in the region.

The 2019-nCoV originated in Wuhan City, Hubei, in China. It has infected over 43,000 people and killed more than 1,000 mostly in the mainland.

Taiwan has recorded 18 novel coronavirus cases but with zero fatalities as of Tuesday, February 11. The Philippines has so far confirmed three 2019-nCoV cases and one death due to the virus.

“Taiwan has taken all measures needed to contain the spread of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus,” TECO stressed.

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