Thu, May 04, 2017 - Page 1 News List

Taiwan to gate-crash WHA: minister

PROTEST:The government is considering holding an international news conference in Geneva as a sign of protest if it is not invited to the meeting, the health minister said

Staff writer, with CNA

Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung answers questions at a meeting of the legislature’s Social Welfare and Environmental Hygiene Committee in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Fang Pin-chao, Taipei Times

Taiwan is to send a delegation to Geneva, Switzerland, for the annual World Health Assembly (WHA) this month, even if it is not invited, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said yesterday.

Chen told the legislature’s Social Welfare and Environmental Hygiene Committee that the government is preparing to go to Geneva and make its presence felt while the WHA is in session, even without an invitation.

The WHA, the decisionmaking body of the WHO, is scheduled to meet from May 22 to May 31.

Taiwan wants to attend the meeting as an observer, as has been the case for the past eight years. The deadline for online registration for this year’s WHA session is Monday, and Taiwan is still hoping for an invitation.

Many believe an invitation will not be forthcoming because of Beijing’s ongoing campaign to suppress Taiwan’s participation in international organizations.

That campaign has intensified since President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) took office in May last year.

Chen said the ministry has been trying to forge closer ties with many countries to secure support for Taiwan’s bid to attend the meeting.

The government has not ruled out holding an international news conference in Geneva as a sign of protest if Taiwan is not invited to attend the WHA as an observer, the minister said.

Holding an international news conference would be just one way to protest, Chen said, but he did not mention what other options the delegation might have.

He said the health ministry and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs would continue to work on the bid, but did not disclose details, saying now was not the time.

Tsai has sent repeated tweets to solicit international support for Taiwan’s WHA bid, citing the nation’s contribution to the international community by providing medical assistance to millions of people around the world.

The president shared a video of a photo exhibition on “Taiwan’s contributions to health for all” on Twitter on Tuesday, describing it as “Taiwan’s story.”

This was her third tweet in four days, seeking to attract international attention to Taiwan’s wish to attend this year’s WHA.

The video, which is on YouTube, ends with the slogan “WHO cares. Taiwan cares.”

On Saturday and Monday, Tsai tweeted messages detailing the medical assistance Taiwan has provided to other nations, appealing for more support for the nation’s continued role in the global healthcare system.

Taiwan first participated in the WHA as an observer in 2009, one year after then-president Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) government came to power, which pursued a more conciliatory policy toward China.

Last year, Taiwan received a late invitation to the WHA prior to Tsai taking office, but it contained an unexpected reference to UN Resolution No. 2758, which many saw as a political message.

The resolution, passed on Oct. 25, 1971, recognized the People’s Republic of China as “the only legitimate representative of China to the UN.”

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