Sat, May 14, 2005 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: Taiwan focuses on Geneva

The World Health Assembly's (WHA) annual 10-day conference opens on Monday in Geneva. Once again, Taiwan is seeking observer status at the meeting. Although a communique signed by People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) and Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) states that Beijing will help Taipei gain entry into the World Health Organization (WHO), Beijing is still obstructing Taipei's applications to join the organization. This has undermined the Chinese regime's credibility among the Taiwanese.

Beijing remains unyielding on its "one China" principle. It has negotiated a memorandum of understanding with the WHO Secretariat to allow Taiwan to join the organization under the name "Taipei, China." It has also demanded that the WTO inform the Chinese authorities before Taipei works with the WHO on the implementation of the International Health Regulations.

Taiwan is an independent and sovereign country. China has no right to unilaterally negotiate with the WHO Secretariat on any issues regarding Taiwan. Nor is it in a position to decide anything for Taiwan. This country will not accept any attempt to belittle its status.

China's UN representative office in Geneva recently issued a diplomatic note citing a UN resolution stating that Taiwan, as part of China, is not qualified to become a WHO member state or a WHA observer. Beijing requested that all nations not to propose, sign or endorse any bill that is related to Taiwan and not to speak for Taiwan. This is totally contrary to Hu's statement in the communique.

The diplomatic note also stressed that Beijing has taken measures to facilitate exchanges between Taiwan and the WHO, and guarantees that Taiwan has free access to health information and technical assistance. What a pack of lies. Over the past two years, Taiwan has requested technical exchanges with the WHO 22 times -- 14 were rejected, five were never answered and three were endlessly delayed. These are the results of Beijing's obstruction.

Disease does not recognize borders. In the wake of the SARS epidemic and outbreaks of avian flu in this region, Taiwan not only should be part of an international disease-prevention organization, it can make valuable contributions to disease prevention around the world.

The medical profession in this country made considerable advances and is able to export its skills and experience to benefit others. The tsunami disaster-relief effort is an example. The government contributed US$50 million in aid, and the private sector US$100 million. Taiwan has also established the Taiwan International Health Operations Center to expand international medical cooperation and provide support for countries in need.

Participation in the WHO is about the human rights of the people of this country. The government has not linked participation to an acceptance of Taiwan's independence, two Chinas or "one China and one Taiwan." Seeking observer status is a bid to avoid political controversy. The government has adopted a flexible position on the name under which Taiwan participates in the organization as long as national dignity can be maintained. Involvement in the WHO is a purely practical request, and as long as Taiwan can directly and immediately participate in all WHO activities as a separate entity, the government is willing to consider all options.

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