Mon, May 26, 2003 - Page 1 News List

SEF rejects Beijing's offer to send medical supplies

By Sandy Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) yesterday declined China's offer of medical equipment to combat SARS, suggesting Beijing could put the gear to better use by helping its own people in areas where such equipment is scarce.

The SEF said China should make efforts to understand the wishes of Taiwanese and urged Beijing to stop blocking Taiwan's bid to join the World Health Organization (WHO).

"China's moves to obstruct Taiwan's WHO bid have severely soured the feelings of Taiwanese," the SEF said in a statement.

The nation's bid to gain observer status at the WHA was rejected for a seventh time last Monday thanks to an unprecedented effort by Chinese Vice Premier and Minister of Health Wu Yi's (吳儀) team in Geneva to rally Beijing's allies against Taipei.

"If China cares about people in Taiwan, it should attach great importance to cross-strait relations and stop hindering Taiwan's interaction and cooperation with international organizations and countries," the statement said.

The Mainland Affairs Council added that Taipei is willing to provide needed SARS-prevention assistance to Beijing in order to reduce global fears about the epidemic, which is believed to have originated in China.

"We think China should treasure its medical resources in view of its severe SARS situation. We suggest China keep the medical equipment for its own people," the SEF said, adding that Taiwan already has sufficient medical supplies.

On Friday, the SEF, the quasi-official intermediary body authorized by the government to handle exchanges with China in the absence of official ties, received a fax from its China counterpart, the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS), offering medical equipment to Taiwan.

The offer included 200,000 sets of protective clothing, 100,000 surgical masks and five ambulances equipped with negative-pressure ventilation systems. ARATS also expressed China's willingness to send a group of medical personnel to Taiwan to help fight the disease.

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