Thu, May 16, 2002 - Page 1 News List

Taiwan expects to give US$1m to WHO fund

NAME GAME The head of the Department of Health said yesterday that the US has told him that Taiwan should be able to use the name `Taiwan' when it gives money to the body

By Monique Chu  /  STAFF REPORTER , IN GENEVA

Taiwan would donate under its name of "Taiwan" US$1 million to the global fund to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria under the umbrella of the WHO, announced Department of Health Head Lee Ming-liang (李明亮) after meeting his US counterpart in Geneva yesterday.

US Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson met Lee yesterday morning on the sidelines of the week-long meeting of the World Health Assembly (WHA) meeting, the WHO's highest decision-making body. The two met for a 45-minute talk.

Despite earlier hesitation by the US to agree with Taiwan's proposal to donate US$1 million to the global fund under the nation's name, Thompson for the first time told Lee that Taiwan would be able to do so after the US consults with the UN, Lee said.

"That means, when we make the donation, the receipt would clearly state that the money comes from Taiwan," Lee said during a press conference after his meeting with Thompson at the Intercontinental Hotel in Geneva.

"We could have made the donation through some private channels, such as under the name of the Foundation of Medical Professionals Alliance in Taiwan (台灣醫界聯盟基金會), or in my private capacity, but that's the wrong approach," Lee said.

"Since the donation comes from taxpayers' money, I find it necessary to state clearly that the donation comes from Taiwan," Lee said.

Prior to departing Geneva, Thompson said the meeting with Lee -- the third between the two in the past two years -- was productive.

"I think it was a good meeting. We discussed a lot of issues," Thompson told the Taipei Times.

"Hopefully we've made some progress," he said, when asked whether the talk touched upon future US strategies for supporting Taipei's bid.

Thompson also sought to reassure Lee that the manner in which he expressed support for Taiwan's bid was appropriate, Lee said.

During a luncheon talk under the invitation of the World Medical Association (WMA) on Tuesday, Thompson said the US supports Taiwan's bid.

"He told me it was much more meaningful to make the statement during the WMA function instead of having the remark made during the WHA general discussion as the WMA meeting gathered many health ministers and leading figures in the world medical community," Lee said.

"Thompson also said it's a `breakthrough' for him to voice that support as he is the highest-level US official to ever formally make such a statement," Lee said.

Lee added that he believes Taiwan's WHO bid would become much smoother now that the US has made such a high-profile statement of support.

On Tuesday Thompson said the US recognizes that Taipei's bid is a "controversial issue," but said the US will not "shrink from taking a public stance on it."

When pressed by reporters, Lee said that Thompson declined to comment in their meeting on why the US had kept silent on Taiwan's bid during the WHA's general committee discussion on Monday.

"He avoided any direct answer, saying only `we are your good friends,'" Lee said, adding he believed the US had its national interests in mind by not commenting on the matter during the committee meeting.

Six countries spoke in favor of Taiwan and 17 countries as well as the EU spoke against the case during the committee's meeting on Monday morning.

The second plenary meeting in the afternoon accepted the committee's decision not to include Taipei's case into the assembly agenda, the sixth time in a row since Taiwan's WHO bid began in 1997.

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