Fri, May 25, 2018 - Page 1 News List

In BBC interview, Joseph Wu calls out PRC’s tactics

NO HELP:An enterovirus outbreak and the 2003 SARS epidemic were just two examples that highlight the need for the nation to be connected with the world

By Lu Yi-hsuan  /  Staff reporter, in GENEVA, Switzerland, with CNA

Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung, left, shakes hands with US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar yesterday on the sidelines of the World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland.

Photo: Lu Yi-hsuan, Taipei Times

Taiwan, as a hub for international travel, should not be excluded from the WHO, and the nation’s omission from the World Health Assembly (WHA) for two consecutive years is due to China’s obstruction, Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) said on Wednesday in an interview with the BBC World Service.

Asked by World Update host Dan Damon why it is important for Taiwan to take part in the assembly, Wu said that the “value for Taiwan to be able to participate in the annual WHA is that Taiwan is able to get connected with the rest of the world concerning the health issue.”

It is important to allow Taiwan to be able to work together with the rest of the world, Wu said.

When Taiwan was hit by SARS in 2003, it looked to the international community for help, he said.

“We called for help from the WHO, but the WHO was unable to send anybody,” Wu said.

Before that, Taiwan was hit by an enterovirus outbreak and was unable to receive support from the WHO, because it was not a member, he said.

These experiences show that Taiwan needs to be connected with the rest of the world, he added.

About 1.66 million airplanes pass through Taiwan’s airspace and 66 million people pass through the nation each year, Wu said.

If Taiwan becomes a gap in the international fight against pandemics, it would affect the rest of the world, he said.

Taiwan might be small, but “we can still help the rest of the international community,” Wu said, adding that the National Health Insurance program is a model for the rest of the world.

“We hope we can help the rest of the world as well if you allow Taiwan to become part of the international health community,” he said.

Ongoing problems in cross-strait relations have arisen due to China’s political motivation regarding Taiwan, Wu said, adding that Beijing has been imposing its “one China” principle on the international community, the WHO, other governments and private corporations.

China says that if Taiwan wants to participate in the WHO, it needs Beijing’s approval or it should be part of a Chinese delegation, he said.

Taiwan is not part of the People’s Republic of China, he said.

“We have a vibrant democracy. Taiwan’s president is democratically elected and Taiwan’s parliament is also democratically elected,” Wu said.

Beijing has over the past few weeks been pressuring international airlines to refer to Taiwan as a part of China, which is hurting Taiwanese, demonstrating that it is using its “sharp power” for its political objectives, he said.

Over the past year, China has increased the number of military flights around Taiwan, Wu said.

While Taiwan currently has the ability to defend itself, it is concerned that it will eventually lag behind in defensive capabilities, he said.

The interview is available on the BBC’s Web site at www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/w172w4k8t3c1t1x and begins at 26 minutes, 56 seconds.

In related news, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) on Wednesday in Geneva, Switzerland, criticized a remark that Beijing has made proper arrangements for Taipei to participate “in almost all the technical meetings hosted by the WHO” over the past five years by Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs Department of International Organizations and Conferences Deputy Director-General Liu Hua (劉華).

“This is typical of China. Instead of discussing the facts, it attempts to cover them with lies,” Chen said, adding that Taiwan was only able to attend about one-third of the WHO’s technical meetings in those years.

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