Tue, May 23, 2006 - Page 1 News List

Tenth WHA bid defeated

FAILED AGAIN The latest attempt to enter the world health body was defeated after a one-hour meeting and much resistance from Beijing and China's allies

By Chang Yun-ping  /  STAFF REPORTER IN GENEVA , WITH CNA

Wu Shu-min, second left, president of the Foundation of Medical Professionals Alliance in Taiwan, joins more than 100 Taiwanese expatriates yesterday to shout slogans as they hold up a banner in French reading, ``Why exclude Taiwan'' outside the UN's headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. The protesters called upon the international community to support Taiwan's 10th bid to enter the WHO and to help it secure observer status at this week's World Health Assembly.

PHOTO: WANG PING-YU, TAIPEI TIMES

Taiwan's 10th bid to obtain observer status at the World Health Assembly (WHA) failed yesterday as the assembly excluded the addition of Taiwan's observer application from its agenda.

After one hour of discussion, the WHA's General Committee yesterday ruled out the inclusion of Taiwan's bid as a supplementary item on the assembly's agenda.

The WHA, which opened yesterday, is the highest-decision making body of the WHO.

During the discussion in the General Committee, Taiwan's diplomatic allies Gambia and Belize proposed to add Taiwan's bid to the assembly's agenda, but the bid was challenged by Cuba and China.

During the second plenary session of the General Committee, two of Taiwan's allies, Malawi and Palau, defended Taiwan against Pakistan and China, who spoke against the bid.

The Chinese delegates attending the assembly were Health Minister Gao Qiang (高強) and Ambassador and permanent representative to the UN Sha Zukang (沙祖康).

Confronted by Taiwanese journalists at the entrance of the assembly hall prior to the opening ceremony of the assembly, Gao refused to make any comment, but told Taiwanese journalists to attend a press conference he would convene late yesterday evening.

Sha, however, told reporters that under the "one China" principle, "we support Taiwanese participation in the WHO's technical activities to the maximum level," adding that "what constitutes maximum participation is something that can be negotiated."

"We have been very concerned about the [Taiwanese people's] health. This is absolutely for sure," he said.

In response to questions from reporters about the Taiwan's refusal to participate in the WHO under the "one China" principle, Sha said "it [the principle] is a consensus in the international community."

Groups of Taiwanese who had traveled from the US, Europe and Taiwan yesterday gathered outside the UN building where the WHA was meeting to appeal for support for Taiwan's bid. Chanting slogans and singing songs, the demonstrators urged the WHO to allow Taiwan's participation.

"The more China opposes us, the more confident we'll remain to strive for WHO participation," said Wu Shu-min (吳樹民), president of the Medical Professionals Alliance of Taiwan.

In related news, New Zealand's parliament recently passed a resolution to show its support for Taiwan's bid to participate in the WHO and its activities, Taiwan's representative in New Zealand said yesterday.

The Foreign Affairs, Defense and Trade Committee of the parliament passed the resolution last Friday. The resolution requests that the government support Taiwan's bid to join the WHA as an observer, Representatve Victor Chin (秦日新) said in a letter faxed to the Central News Agency.

The parliament passed the resolution based on an appeal made to the parliament last month by some 1,000 Taiwanese expatriates and New Zealand citizens, Chin said.

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