Upcoming Seminar: “Taiwan’s Opportunities and Challenges During the Pandemic: Domestic Politics, Foreign Relations, and Global Health Strategies”

Online | Helsinki, Finland
25th May 2021
10:00-12:00 Helsinki Time
9:00-11:00 Copenhagen Time
8:00-10:00 London Time

Between the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and spring 2021, Taiwan’s global visibility has increased thanks in large part to its successful handling of the novel coronavirus outbreak. It is now almost a cliché to elaborate the way in which a small island of nearly 24 million people has managed to continue to enjoy “normal life” since the pandemic. We have also been inundated with detailed information about Taiwan’s success in a wide range of media reports. Even Finland’s Helsingin Sanomat has included significant coverage of Taiwan’s COVID-19 story, under the title “Kaikkialla kiva ei ole kiellettyä,” which translates literally as, “fun things are not forbidden everywhere” (that is, in Taiwan during the pandemic).

However, it is a little-known fact that Taiwan has to date had only a very limited number of vaccines available to its huge population. While there have been news stories related to like Taiwan’s exclusion from the World Health Organization (WHO) and World Health Assembly, few people know that Taiwan used to have observer status within the WHO from 2009 to 2018. Even more obscure is the fact that Taiwanese scientists used to work as medical officers on important WHO projects. What is behind these changes?

This seminar goes beyond the clichés about Taiwan’s handling of COVID-19. It is not just about creating a narrative of Taiwan’s success or how that narrative is being suppressed in the international community. Instead, it invites experts from the medical humanities, political science, and diplomacy to help us critically examine the curious case of Taiwan.

Date: Tuesday 25 May
Time: 10-12 am Helsinki Time (9-11 am Copenhagen Time; 8-10 am London Time)

Register here by Friday 21 May – Access will be shared one day before the actual event via email notification:

Taiwan’s Opportunities and Challenges During the Pandemic: Domestic Politics, Foreign Relations, and Global Health Strategies


10:00-10:10 Opening

Tiina Airaksinen (Deputy Director of Department of Cultures and University Lecturer in Asian Studies, University of Helsinki)

Julie Yu-Wen Chen (Professor of Chinese Studies, University of Helsinki)

10:10-11:00 Presentations

All Eyes on Taiwan: How a Successful Pandemic Response Elevated Taiwan’s Global Profile
Jonathan Sullivan (Associate Professor, School of Politics and International Relations, University of Nottingham)

Reappraising Taiwan’s Role through the History of WHO
Harry Yi-Jui Wu (Director & Assistant Professor, Medical Ethics and Humanities Unit, University of Hong Kong)

11:00-11:15 Commentaries and questions from discussants

Niklas Swanström (Director of the Institute for Security and Development Policy, Sweden)
Dusica Ristivojević (Kone Foundation Bold Initiative Senior Researcher, University of Helsinki)

11:15-11:30 Responses from speakers
11:30-12:00 Q & A for general audience