Presidential Office spokesman Charles Chen (陳以信) on Friday confirmed that the nation had received an invitation from the WHO to send officials to its annual World Health Assembly (WHA), which is to be held in Geneva later this month, adding that it would be passed on to the new government under president-elect Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文).
For the past seven years, the WHO has sent an invitation to Taiwan to attend the WHA as an observer under the name “Chinese Taipei.”
What is different this time is that the invitation mentioned UN Resolution No. 2758 and the “one China” principle, which is understood to mean that there is only “one China,” with Beijing interpreting that as the People’s Republic of China (PRC) encompassing Taiwan.
The resolution was passed on Oct. 25, 1971, and recognized the PRC as “the only legitimate representative of China to the UN,” expelling the representatives of the Republic of China (ROC).
This year’s meeting is to be held in Geneva from May 23 to May 28, shortly after the inauguration of Tsai on May 20.
Chen said President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) viewed the invitation in a positive light, believing it to be an extension of the so-called “1992 consensus,” which refers to a tacit understanding between the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the Chinese government that both sides of the Taiwan Strait acknowledge there is “one China,” with each side having its own interpretation of what “China” means.
Tsai and her Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) have never recognized the existence of such a consensus.
This year’s WHO invitation, for the first time doing so under the premise of the “one China” principle, is widely seen as the first challenge directed at Tsai.
The incoming administration has to decide by tomorrow, the last day of online registration for the WHA, if it wants to attend the conference.
On Friday, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) spokesman Ma Xiaoguang (馬曉光) stressed China’s “clear and consistent” stance on Taiwan’s participation in the international community, which he said was that “reasonable arrangement will be made through cross-strait consultation under the ‘one China’ principle.”
Taiwan has been able to attend the WHA conference since 2009 as an observer in a “special arrangement” under the political basis of the “1992 consensus,” he said.
He added that as Taiwan has expressed a desire to attend the conference several times this year, China heeded the wish and made the arrangement in goodwill.
He said that if the “political basis” is to be destroyed, it would be hard to continue such an arrangement.
China has consistently obstructed Taiwan’s efforts to take part in international organizations, but lifted its objection to Taiwan’s bid to become a WHO observer less than a year after Ma Ying-jeou began his first presidential term in May 2008.
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