Wed, May 18, 2005 - Page 1 News List

China stops Palau from backing Taiwan at WHA

ALMOST UNIVERSAL During a committee meeting for the revision of infectious disease regulations, the Palauan delegate was interrupted for defending Taiwan's rights


China's representative on a World Health Assembly (WHA) committee interrupted the representative of Taiwan's diplomatic ally Palau yesterday as the latter attempted to defend Taiwan's inclusion in the International Health Regulations (IHR).

The regulations are the World Health Organization's (WHO) global legal framework for infectious disease control. The WHA, the WHO's highest decision-making body, opened in Geneva on Monday. Taiwan, after failing in its ninth bid to become an observer at the Assembly, still hoped to be included in the IHR and participate in WHO-related activities under that framework.

Revisions to the regulations have yet to be adopted by the assembly. Committee A of the WHA discussed the revised IHR draft yesterday morning, with a number of Taiwan's diplomatic allies taking the floor to mark the significance of the "universal application" of the revised regulations.

Article 4.6 of the regulations urges all WHO member states to "take all appropriate actions to facilitate the universal application of the revised International Health Regulations."

The addition of the words "universal application" to the revised article was a result of intensive negotiations between Taiwan and other countries, many of which do not maintain diplomatic ties with Taipei.

The nation's diplomatic allies, including the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Nicaragua, the Solomon Islands and Palau, said during the hearing that the principle of universality should be applied when implementing the regulations.

Palau and one other Taiwanese ally used the word "Taiwan" during their statements. It is understood that the rest of the allies did not mention Taiwan's name because Taiwanese diplomats working on the WHO bid did not want to cause a conflict in the committee.

The US and Japan, which have been supportive of Taiwan's bid to join the WHO as an observer, did not touch upon the issue of "universal application" during their statements. They also made no remarks about Taiwan.

China's representative to the committee said the Chinese delegation to the WHA had noted that many member states of the WHO supported the universal application of the regulations.

China was "very supportive" of the principle of universality of the IHR and believed that promoting the concept was "the obligation of sovereign states," the representative said.

China welcomed implementation of the IHR, the representative said.

However, the representative proposed that "difficult and controversial elements should not find their way into the IHR."

He also suggested that negotiations on the IHR should not be reopened.

If any member states wanted to open informal negotiations, "China would like to take an active part in them," the representative said.

When Palau took the floor, its representative said the country hoped that the IHR would include Taiwan and that "the Taiwanese people would appreciate the universal application of the IHR."

China's representative immediately interrupted Palau's statement, saying its representative had mentioned "an issue that should not be discussed."

At that point, a legal adviser of the committee was called in to discuss the intervention, but China and Palau dropped the debate.

Discussion of the IHR will continue tomorrow. The regulations are expected to be adopted before the Assembly closes on Wednesday next week.

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