Thu, May 18, 2017 - Page 8 News List

Passivity to blame for exclusion from WHA

By Chris Huang 黃居正

“Chinese Taipei” did not receive an invitation to attend the World Health Assembly (WHA), which has infuriated everyone from the Presidential Office to the general public. Government officials and members of the public have condemned the WHO for denying Taiwanese their basic right to health, but the organization remains indifferent to the complaints.

In addition, a WHO secretariat official said the organization is not in a position to issue an invitation to Taiwan, adding that the reason the nation had been able to attend the WHA as an observer was because of past cross-strait agreements, but no such agreements have been reached this year.

The remarks shocked both the governing and opposition parties.

In addition, the Mainland Affairs Council and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs — which have often said that “Chinese Taipei” is an independent and sovereign nation — immediately said the remarks were untrue.

However, the WHO official was telling the truth.

Some of the most well-known international legal academics have written that Taiwan has been a part of the WTO, regional fisheries governing bodies and the International Civil Aviation Organization Assembly, under the name “Chinese Taipei” because the government had agreed — either specifically or tacitly — to the “one China” principle and supported eventual unification. This has been the government’s stance for the past 16 years.

Although the government appears to have changed its understanding of the cross-strait relationship many times — from a “special state-to-state” model, “one country on each side,” “neither rejecting nor acknowledging the sovereignty of each other” to “maintaining the ‘status quo’” — those were all designed to mislead Taiwanese who know nothing about international law.

Past administrations have been eager to work with China because they were still controlled by the remnants of a foreign regime in exile, claiming to represent China. However, they were never really interested in pursuing independence, but worked with China to cover up the truth and participated in international organizations so Taiwanese would willingly pay it taxes.

This is why, despite being allowed to participate in a number of international organizations, the name “Taiwan” was never mentioned, but entirely replaced by “Chinese Taipei” or “Taipei, China.”

In addition, “Chinese Taipei” has always been an observer at the WHA and never tried to be an official member of the WHO.

Indeed, it had been agreed upon from the beginning that Taiwan should not seek independence and the actions of past administrations have hugely limited the choices of President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) administration.

According to UN General Assembly Resolution 2758, which governs international organizations, including the WHO, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) government is the sole legitimate government representing China.

However, if Taiwan applies for membership as an independent nation, it should no longer be restricted by that rule.

Seeking independence will likely be difficult, but even Pakistan, which was in a far worse situation than Taiwan, became an official observer at the UN after fighting for that seat for 45 years.

Before Taiwanese start complaining about the WHO being politically manipulated and abandoning its mission and humanitarian tradition of more than 100 years, they should think about whether they have done enough to improve the nation’s situation.

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