Taiwan’s invitation to attend the World Health Assembly (WHA) was based on Chinese goodwill, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) said in a statement yesterday, contradicting claims made by Taiwanese officials.
TAO spokesperson Fan Liqing (范麗青) said that Taiwan needed to “calm down” after a political furor erupted following the disclosure of an internal WHO memo labeling Taiwan a province of China.
“The position of international society and international organizations on this position is already very clear to everybody,” Fan told a routine press conference in Beijing.
Following the improvement in cross-strait ties over the past three years, the WHA extended an invitation to “Chinese Taipei” to attend its annual meeting, including this year, she said, adding that the move “was welcomed by Taiwanese compatriots and was goodwill given by the mainland [authorities.]”
Department of Health Minister Chiu Wen-ta (邱文達) is scheduled to lead Taiwan’s delegation to the meeting in Geneva from Monday to May 25 under the designation “Chinese Taipei” — a name that government agencies have grudgingly accepted.
President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) on Tuesday accused the WHO of taking a “two-sided approach” after an opposition lawmaker publicized the WHO memo, which detailed the careful approach taken to avoid separating Taiwan’s status from China.
The memo said that under an agreement between Beijing and the WHO, agencies should refrain “from actions that could constitute or be interpreted as recognition of a separate status of Taiwanese authorities and institutions from China.”
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers have asked the government to boycott the WHA meeting to protest what they called derogatory treatment.
The latest TAO statement could embarrass administration officials who have claimed Taiwan’s WHA invitation was the result of improving international relations, not a Chinese deal.
Several DPP politicians have claimed for years that the WHA invitations have come through Chinese approval instead of “direct communications” with the WHO, as former Department of Health minister Yeh Ching-chuan (葉金川) said in 2009.
“The DPP believes that the [WHA] controversy has created immeasurable harm to our national sovereignty. The government needs to come up with a response on this matter immediately,” DPP spokesperson Lin Yu-chang (林右昌) said in response to the TAO’s comments.