Wed, May 18, 2011 - Page 1 News List

WHO NAME GAME: Ma turns to EU for help in WHO furor

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff Reporter, with CNA

Department of Health Minister Chiu Wen-ta sits behind a sign reading “Chinese Taipei” in the observers’ section as he listens to simultaneous interpretations of proceedings at the World Health Assembly in Geneva on Monday.

Photo: CNA

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said yesterday that the WHO should not have two sets of standards, and he requested the help of the European Parliament to demand the use of “Chinese Taipei” as the name for Taiwan.

Ma asked Charles Tannock, head of the European Parliament-Taiwan Friendship Group, to help ensure Taiwan is referred to properly at the WHO.

Ma said that Taiwan has taken part at the World Health Assembly as an observer under the name “Chinese Taipei” since 2009, unlike in the past, when Taiwan was only invited to technical meetings.

He only learned recently about the WHO memo asking recipients to address Taiwan as a “province of China.”

“Upon learning the news, I myself and our health minister currently at the Geneva meeting lodged a strong protest,” Ma said, adding that as an organization with such high stature, the WHO should not have different sets of standards.

Ma said Taiwan has requested that the WHO respect its name of “Chinese Taipei” for the past three years, which he said was a name that was confirmed after an exchange of notes.

“The WHO should address us as ‘Chinese Taipei’ instead of ‘Taiwan, China.’ We hope you can help us ... in this regard, “ Ma told Tannock and his 10-member delegation.

Department of Health (DOH) Minister Chiu Wen-ta (邱文達), head of Taiwan’s delegation at the 64th session of the WHA that opened on Monday in Geneva, Switzerland, presented a letter to Gian Luca Burci, the WHO’s legal counsel, at 11:30am on Monday.

Burci accepted the letter and promised to immediately pass it on to WHO Secretary-General Margaret Chan (陳馮富珍).

In the protest letter, which the DOH made public in Taipei yesterday, Taiwan expressed “utmost dissatisfaction” with the internal memo and its implications regarding the implementation of International Health Regulations (IHR) in Taiwan, demanding that the WHO redress the mistake which is “absolutely unacceptable to us.”

Chiu said in the letter to the WHO that he was writing on behalf of the nation, to “file a formal protest over improper procedure and erroneous terminology of political nature laid out” in the application of the IHR with respect to “Taiwan, province of China.”

According to the WHO memo, the terminology used in WHO publications and documents, either electronic or in hard copy, must be “Taiwan, province of China” and information related to Taiwan “must be listed or shown as falling under China and not separately” as if it referred to a separate state.

It showed that all communications between the WHO’s technical units and the “point of contact of Taiwan Province” would be channeled through the WHO contact point.

The WHO contact point, as necessary, would coordinate with the secretariat focal point concerning the implementation of the 2005 memorandum of understanding between China and the WHO that brings certain interactions with Taiwan under the WHO into China’s jurisdiction.

The memo cast into doubt the statement by the government that Taiwan’s participation in the IHR was made in the capacity of a “point of contact in Taipei” and that the inclusion of Taiwan in the IHR allows direct communication between the nation and the WHO.

“They have unwarranted political implications that are not only inconsistent with the reality, but also hinder the implementation of the IHR,” Chiu said in the letter.

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