Taiwan has received an invitation from the WHO to attend this year’s World Health Assembly (WHA) meeting in May as an observer under the name “Chinese Taipei.”
This will be the second year the country has been invited to the conference. This year’s meeting will be held in Geneva from May 17 to May 21.
Government officials held a press conference to display the invitation the Department of Health received by fax late on Monday night from WHO Director-General Margaret Chan (陳馮富珍), saying the formal letter was on its way.
The fax was sent to Department of Health Minister Yaung Chih-liang (楊志良), although Chan referred to Yaung as “minister of the Department of Health” and to Taiwan as “Chinese Taipei.”
“The format of the invitation and the manner in which the minister was addressed were the same as last year. The only difference was that the letter to [Taiwan] and other WHO members and WHA observers were sent simultaneously,” Department of Health Vice Minister Hsiao Mei-ling (蕭美玲) said.
Last year, Taiwan received an invitation letter on April 28, three weeks ahead of the meeting.
Hsiao, along with Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs David Lin (林永樂) and Council of Mainland Affairs Deputy Minister Chao Chien-ming (趙建民), attributed the invitation to cross-strait detente.
“It is the fruition of years of hard work and the result of efforts by both the Chinese Nationalist Party [KMT] and the Democratic Progressive Party. In the past, Taiwan’s participation in the international community had been subject to cross-strait relations. Now, improvements in cross-strait relationships have helped Taiwan gain greater visibility in the international community,” Chao said.
When asked, Chao denied the letter had been sent with China’s consent, saying that the subject was not discussed in the negotiations between the Straits Exchange Foundation and the Chinese Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait.