The delegation is to participate under the name “Chinese Taipei.”
In the legislature, government officials faced tough questions over the controversy, with Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators requesting that the administration boycott the WHA meeting to protest the memo.
“What this shows is that Taiwan’s official designation at the WHO is as a province of China and nothing else. All these other names are a sham,” said DPP Legislator Kuan Bi-ling (管碧玲), who released the memo to the media.
In a statement, the party called the information a “slap in the face” for the Ma administration, while DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) called it a “serious” and “regrettable” incident.
“If this becomes Taiwan’s method of participating in international organizations, it will have a deep impact on our country’s global position and international space,” she said.
DPP Legislator Tien Chiu-chin (田秋堇) said to Department of Health (DOH) Minister Chiu Wen-ta (邱文達), who will lead the delegation to the WHA meeting next week: “If you don’t speak up [during the WHA meeting] to defend Taiwan’s sovereignty, it means that you accept the [WHO’s] MOU.”
Lawmakers said that if strong action was not taken in protest of the WHO’s definition of Taiwan as a province of China, Taiwan’s sovereignty would be seriously harmed.
Chiu said he and other department officials would attend the WHA meeting as representatives from “Chinese Taipei” as planned and that Taiwan’s sovereignty would not be undermined.
Supported by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers, Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials vowed to lodge an official protest with the WHO authorities in Geneva.
“Our government won’t accept the political stance outlined in the documents and will express a most strenuous protest,” the ministry wrote in a statement.
However, it said that the delegation would go ahead as planned.
During the lunch break, the National Security Council called an impromptu meeting to coordinate the government’s response strategy.
At a press conference following the meeting, Government Information Office Minister Philip Yang (楊永明) denied that the memorandum proved that the approach adopted by the Ma administration to participate in the WHA “humiliated the nation and forfeited its sovereignty.”
“Some [DPP] lawmakers have described [the government’s strategy to participate in the WHA] as a goat falling prey to a tiger, but I really have to respond with this: ‘How can you catch tiger cubs without entering the tiger’s lair?’” Yang said.
Taiwan’s participation in the WHA had not only expanded Taiwan’s international space and boosted its international invisibility, but more importantly made concrete achievements in enhancing the interests and welfare of the people and the nation, he said.
Saying that the memorandum was a reflection of the legal system and political facts of the UN, Yang called on the public to understand international realities.
“The reality in international politics has been unfavorable to Taiwan ... [Still,] the Ma administration has made certain achievements,” he said.
Yang said the government had received information on the memo very recently and had drawn up a plan to have Chiu file a complaint with the WHO Secretariat when he arrives in Geneva next week.