Taiwan's WHO bid received a boost yesterday as the US and Japan both voiced support for Taiwan's participation in the international health organization. \nThe Secretary of US Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson expressed support for Taiwan's efforts to gain observer status to the World Health Assembly (WHA), saying the US would not shrink from taking a public stance on the controversial issue. \n"America's work for a healthy world also cuts across political lines. That is why my government supports Taiwan's efforts to gain observership status to the World Health Assembly," Thompson said during a luncheon talk under the invitation of the World Medical Association (WMA). \n"We know that this is a controversial issue, but we do not shrink from taking a public stance on it," said Thompson in front of a roomful of medical professionals as well as health ministers from various countries at the Intercontinental Hotel in Geneva. \n"The people of Taiwan, like everybody else, deserve the same level of public health of citizens of every nation on earth, and we support them in their efforts in achieving it," Thompson added. \nThe meeting took place concurrently with the week-long annual meeting of the WHA, the WHO's highest decision-making body. \nDepartment of Health Head Lee Ming-liang (李明亮) said Thomp-son's statement is a constructive step toward Taiwan's bid despite the fact that the WHA on Monday decided not to include Taiwan's application on the assembly agenda's for a sixth year in a row. \n"His statement this year here in Geneva is much better than what he said here last year. Last year he only said he supported Taiwan `playing a role' in WHO activities during a question-and-answer session in a local press club in Geneva," Lee said. \n"This year he spelled out his government's stance on supporting Taiwan to gain observer status here in Geneva," Lee said. \nVice Minister of Foreign Affairs Michael Kao (高英茂) said that Taiwan had hoped that Washington would inform Taipei in advance of Thompson's talk, but the US State Department has apparently taken a rather cautious move by instructing the US delegation not to do so. \nLee said the US had told Taiwan to take a gradual approach to the country's WHO bid because the US concluded that it was not conceivable for Taiwan to gain enough votes from WHO member countries to support its bid. \nTaiwan has hoped that Thompson would express US support for Taipei's bid during one of the WHA meetings in Geneva, such as the US health minister's formal address during the general discussion of the WHA meeting yesterday. \nBut as of press time yesterday, Thompson had not done so. \nMeanwhile, J. B. Brunet, a high-ranking French official, told Kao that France's statement during the WHA steering committee's closed-door meeting on Taiwan's case on Monday adhered to the European nation's "one China" policy. \nMeanwhile, Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda reportedly expressed Japan's support for Taiwan's bid. \nFukuda said at a press conference held after a routine Cabinet meeting that since Taiwan is geographically close to Japan, the Japanese government is interested in any efforts that would help raise Taiwan's standard of health care.
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Swedish Member of Parliament Hampus Hagman is pushing for changing the name of the nation’s trade office in Taipei to signal improved relations with “Asia’s perhaps foremost democracy.” Hagman on Wednesday last week proposed renaming the Swedish Trade and Invest Council to “Sweden’s Office in Taipei,” following similar changes by other nations. The Swedish Trade and Invest Council, part of Business Sweden, is owned by the Swedish government and Swedish industry. Taiwan and Sweden share important values such as respect for democracy, human rights, the rule of law and freedom of speech, Hagman said in the motion, adding that the two nations