Sat, Feb 08, 2020 - Page 1 News List

Virus Outbreak: Australia joins calls for Taiwan in WHO

By Lin Chia-nan  /  Staff reporter

The WHO logo is pictured with its Chinese and French-language titles on a building in Geneva, Switzerland, on Thursday.

Photo: Reuters

The Australian Office Taipei yesterday joined other nations calling for Taiwan’s practical participation in the WHO, after representatives of the US, EU and Japan, as well as Taiwan’s diplomatic allies, spoke up for the nation at WHO executive board meetings in Geneva, Switzerland, this week.

“As the [2019] novel coronavirus [2019-nCoV] continues to underscore so starkly, diseases do not respect borders. In this interconnected and fast-moving world, it is clearly in all our interests that the WHO does not exclude populations or potential partners,” the office wrote on Facebook yesterday.

“Inclusivity has never been more important as we work together to manage this immediate global health emergency and, longer-term, to realize the world’s health-related sustainable development goals,” it wrote.

The Canadian Trade Office in Taipei on Facebook shared Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s support late last month for Taiwan’s role as a WHO observer.

The posts came after US Ambassador to the UN in Geneva Andrew Bremberg on Thursday urged the WHO to “engage directly with Taiwan public health authorities,” which prompted Chinese delegate Qi Dahai (齊大海) to reiterate Beijing’s claim that Taiwan is part of China, calling on attendees to stop “hyping up” the “so-called Taiwan issue.”

Since the daily meetings began on Monday, the delegates of eight of Taiwan’s diplomatic allies — Eswatini, Paraguay, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Nauru, the Marshall Islands, and St Kitts and Nevis — have advocated Taiwan’s inclusion at the WHO to close global disease prevention loopholes.

They have been joined by delegates from the US, Japan, Germany (representing the EU), the UK, Australia, New Zealand and Belgium, which is very stimulating, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement on Thursday.

The number and strength of foreign delegates speaking up for Taiwan has grown significantly, showing that the nation’s bid to join the WHO has secured general support from the global community, the ministry said.

Most of the foreign delegates voiced their support for Taiwan during discussions about public health emergencies, demonstrating the global community’s concern about the rapid spread of 2019-nCoV in China, and distrust over claims that Beijing and the WHO have fully cooperated with Taiwan on information about the outbreak, it said.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) on Thursday on Twitter called on WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus to reconsider his statement praising China’s disease-prevention efforts, after Wu’s previous post highlighting the WHO’s misreporting of Taiwan’s confirmed cases and its reference to the nation using incorrect titles in its situation reports.

“One week ago, @DrTedros, you said: ‘China is setting a new standard for outbreak response.’ ‘China deserves our gratitude & respect.’ ‘I will praise China again & again.’ Are you going to stand by your statements or retract them? Hello?” Wu wrote.

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