Wed, May 18, 2005 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: The WHO bows before China again

Pundits who thought the trips to China by Chinese Nationalist Party Chairman (KMT) Lien Chan (連戰) and People First Party Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) would elicit a more civilized form of behavior from Beijing were fooling themselves. Beijing has once again blocked Taipei's application to join the World Health Organization (WHO), and thus China's "united front" strategy and hypocrisy in creating the illusion of "peaceful intentions" for international consumption is plain to see. Equally obvious is Beijing's lust for Taiwan's territory at the expense of the health and security of Taiwanese people.

Following Lien's and Soong's meetings with Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤), media reports suggested China would be willing to assist Taiwan in its bid to join the WHO. This was done apparently as a gesture of goodwill and support for the opposition leaders for courting favor with the old enemy.

But less than a week after the visits, the Chinese leadership pressed the World Health Assembly (WHA) to obstruct Taiwan's bid to join it. They even tried to suggest that Taiwan might join through a secret deal, thus creating the impression that Taiwan was willing to reduce its status to that of a province and join the Chinese delegation.

Earlier, when members of the WHO Secretariat briefed representatives of the British Commonwealth, they mentioned a memorandum of understanding that the WHO had signed with China. It was said that this was the first time China had agreed to allow Taiwan to participate in WHO activities, on the condition that it joins China's delegation under the name of "Taiwan, China." In addition, Beijing's approval would be necessary prior to any technical exchanges or offers of support from the WHO.

Taiwan was not informed about these negotiations, nor was it consulted at any time. By demanding that Taiwan become a member of its delegation, China was seeking to belittle Taiwan's status as a sovereign nation. This underlines the ignorance of the WHO Secretariat in regard to cross-strait politics. Taiwan would never have agreed to such humiliating conditions.

China's tactics prove that the agreements Hu reached with Lien and Soong -- both of whom long for unification -- are worth less than the paper on which they are printed. Taiwan's experience on this attempt to attend the WHA should show simple-minded officials and politicians who insist on building mechanisms of mutual trust that there is no trust to be found from Beijing, and that anyone who deals with China in any capacity should be wary and prepare for some disappointing outcomes.

Activities organized by UN organizations should not become arenas in which powerful nations run roughshod over weaker nations and despotic nations make a mockery of democratic ones.

China, in particular, as a full member of the UN, would do well not to mislead international opinion using secret negotiations of the type witnessed in Geneva.

But this is probably a pipe dream. Instead, China will likely continue with these tactics, confirming to anyone who looks that the communist regime is underhanded and cowardly. Little wonder that the majority of Taiwanese don't want anything to do with that regime.

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