Medical journal publishes protest letter from Taiwan over academic paper

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The article titled
The article titled "Mortality, Morbidity and Risk Factors in China and its Provinces, 1990-2017: a Systematic Analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2017," mainly covers 34 provincial level divisions in China. Taiwan, however, is included in charts attached to the paper. (NOWnews)

TAIPEI (CNA) — Taiwan is not part of China, the nation’s health minister said in a letter published by The Lancet on Monday after the world-renowned peer-reviewed medical journal published last month a paper that listed Taiwan as a province of China.

“Taiwan is a sovereign democratic country, not part of any other. This is an undisputed fact,” Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said in the letter published online July 15.

“Our president and parliament are democratically elected. Taiwan takes pride in its democracy. It is not part of China,” he continued.

However, in a research paper authored by a Chinese research team published on The Lancet website on June 24, Taiwan was listed as a province of China and included in the tables in the article, Chen noted.

The article titled “Mortality, Morbidity and Risk Factors in China and its Provinces, 1990-2017: a Systematic Analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2017,” mainly covers 34 provincial level divisions in China. Taiwan, however, is included in charts attached to the paper.

From a scientific research point of view, Chen said the research results detailed in the paper are also not credible.

Chen explained that Taiwan’s health conditions, care standards, and public health system are “completely different” to those of China. The two countries also use different methods to collect statistical data from different sources, he added.

“The investigators compared the data of Taiwan with China’s national mean by using biased and academically unethical methodologies. The results, therefore, are of no value to the field of public health and might be detrimental to the journal’s prestigiousness and credibility,” he concluded, urging that The Lancet make a correction.

According to the Ministry of Health and Welfare, after learning about the article last month, the ministry immediately contacted The Lancet’s editorial board. It also asked Taiwan’s U.K. representative office to send Chen’s protest letter to the medical journal.

According to the ministry, Chen expressed appreciation to The Lancet for publishing his letter, adding that no international journal should be hijacked by the politically motivated conduct of any country.

By Chen Wei-ting and Joseph Yeh