The US and the EU voiced their support for Taiwan’s attendance at this year’s World Health Assembly (WHA), following China’s move to block Taipei at the meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, later this month.
The US Department of State on Tuesday issued a statement saying it strongly supports Taiwan’s participation as an observer in the WHA, citing Taiwan’s commitment to global health security, and the important contributions it has made to public health and development.
“We are greatly dismayed that China has once again blocked Taiwan from receiving an invitation to attend [the WHA]. We will continue to urge the WHO to extend an invitation to Taiwan to attend this year’s WHA as an observer,” the statement said.
“The US believes that Taiwan should not be excluded from these critical discussions,” it added.
The EU on Tuesday also voiced its support for Taiwan’s participation at the meeting of the WHO’s decisionmaking body from May 21 to May 26.
Maja Kocijancic, spokesperson for the EU’s Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, told the Central News Agency that support for Taiwan’s participation in the international arena is in line with the 28-nation bloc’s policy.
“The European Union, generally speaking, supports practical solutions regarding Taiwan’s participation in international frameworks,” including the WHA and the WHO, Kocijancic said, when asked about Taiwan’s exclusion from the meeting.
“This is in line with our ‘one China’ policy and in line with our general policy objectives,” she said.
The EU believes that Taiwan’s participation would also be welcome in some “technical meetings,” she added.
Taiwan has attracted greater support for its WHA bid this year compared with last year, a high-level government official said yesterday on condition of anonymity.
The US and six other like-minded allies have successfully requested a joint meeting with representatives of WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom’s office twice and are planning to demand a third one soon, the official said.
The seven nations are also drafting a joint letter to Tedros, urging the WHO to at least allow Taiwan to express its stance through two-on-two debates at the WHA General Committee and the WHA plenary session, as it did last year, the official said.
“Such US-led actions have placed the WHO Secretariat under quite a lot of pressure,” the official added.
Sixteen of the nation’s allies have also submitted a proposal to the WHO Secretariat calling for Taiwan’s participation at this year’s meeting, and 12 secured a meeting with Tedros in Geneva late last month, the official said.
“However, Tedros again cited the ‘one China’ principle, UN General Assembly Resolution 2758, WHA Resolution 25.1 and the [so-called] ’1992 consensus.’ He even said that an invitation cannot be issued without China’s approval,” the official said.
Despite Chinese obstruction, the government will try to arrange at least 59 bilateral meetings — as it did last year — between Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) and his foreign counterparts at the WHA, the official said.
UN Resolution 2758 recognizes the People’s Republic of China as the only lawful representative of China to the UN, while WHA Resolution 25.1 expelled the Republic of China from the WHO.
The “1992 consensus” refers to a tacit understanding between the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the Chinese Communist Party that both sides of the Taiwan Strait acknowledge that there is “one China,” with each side having its own interpretation of what “China” means.
Taiwan had participated in the WHA as an observer from 2009 to 2016, but it did not receive an invitation last year as part of China’s retaliation against President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) refusal to acknowledge the so-called “1992 consensus.”
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