Wed, May 25, 2005 - Page 8 News List

Letter: Taiwan must show sincerity

By Chi Chunhuei

I hope the latest failed attempt at having observers included at the World Health Assembly meeting will terminate Taiwan's pursuit of "observership" in the World Health Organization (WHO) once and for all.

More critical was the signing of a memorandum of understanding between China and WHO, according to which any participation by Taiwan must first be cleared with Beijing.

China has signaled that it would allow such participation for Taiwan, under the name "Taipei, China."

This memorandum of understanding strikes a deadly blow to Taiwan's long-time bid for participation in the WHO.

If what Taiwan really wants is to participate in the WHO, it now has the means to do so.

But if Taiwan rejects China's offer (it is almost certain that Taiwan will not accept such an offer), it will fall into China's trap, giving credence to Beijing's propaganda that what Taiwan wants in the WHO is not participation, but rather a chance to pursue an agenda of declaring independence.

It is high time for Taiwan to change its tactics and make clear that what it wants is not "participation" in the WHO, but real and full membership. For if Taiwan continues to claim that it wants to participate, Beijing has already agreed to let Taiwan "participate" -- albeit under its terms.

If Taiwan continues to push for participation in the WHO, it will only give rise to resentment in the international community. The international community knows very well that Taiwan is not being honest about what it wants.

On the other hand, Taiwan can do fine without WHO membership.

If it wants access to WHO information, most of it is readily available on the organization's Web site.

If Taiwan is being sincere about its desire to participate and contribute to global health development, it can do this without being a member of the WHO.

Taiwan needs to show the world sincerity, competence and the capacity to contribute to health development among the world's less fortunate.

By striving to become a significant contributor and player in global health, Taiwan can demonstrate its good citizenship to the world.

This will become an indirect way for Taiwan to gain membership in the WHO, for the world will recognize that the WHO needs Taiwan more than Taiwan needs the WHO.

On the other hand, when Taiwan contributes to the development of global health to a high degree, membership in the international club will become less significant for Taiwan.

Keeping Taiwan out of the global health forum is a disgrace for the WHO. Continuing to claim that what it wants from the WHO is mere participation, however, is a disgrace for Taiwan.

Chi Chunhuei

Portland, Oregon

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