President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday protested against the WHO for referring to Taiwan as a province of China in an internal memo last year. He also lodged a protest against China, urging it to not jeopardize cross-strait relations with its efforts to limit Taiwan’s space for international engagement.
The confidential memo, which was sent on Sept. 14 last year to WHO agencies to remind them that Taiwan is a “Province of China,” diminished Taiwan’s status and damaged the nation’s sovereignty, Ma said, accusing the WHO of taking a “two-sided approach” in addressing Taiwan as “Chinese Taipei” at World Health Assembly (WHA) meetings, but stating that the nation is a part of China in internal documents.
“We cannot accept such unfair and unreasonable treatment from the WHO, which apparently said one thing and then acted in another way,” he said at a press conference held at the Presidential Office.
Ma also held China responsible for the WHO’s decision on how to refer to Taiwan, urging the Chinese government to refrain from hurting the feelings of Taiwanese and undermining the development of cross-strait relations.
“The WHO is apparently under pressure from mainland China. We’ve seen significant progress in cross-strait relations and the two sides should cherish the achievements, rather than taking a step back at this time,” he said.
Ma’s denouncement of the WHO and China over the issue came two days after the confidential memo was released by Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Kuan Bi-ling (管碧玲).
The memo said that the correct terminology for Taiwan is “the Taiwan Province of China,” and procedures used by the WHO to -facilitate relations with Taiwan and how these relations operate were subject to Chinese approval.
Stressing that the WHO has addressed Taiwan as “Chinese Taipei” in the WHA since Taiwan’s participation in the assembly in 2009, Ma accused the DPP of having failed to expand the scope of the nation’s international participation, saying that, as a former government, the party should understand the harsh reality of international relations for Taiwan.
Ma made similar comments earlier yesterday morning when meeting with a group of business representatives at the Presidential Office and pledged to defend the nation’s dignity and sovereignty.
“The government would not give up any chance to defend the -sovereignty of the Republic of China, the nation’s safety and people’s dignity,” he said.
The revelation of the memo comes at a sensitive time for the Ma administration as it is sending its third delegation to the annual WHA meeting, which will take place from Monday until May 25.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Timothy Yang (楊進添), who accompanied Ma to the press conference, said the delegation, which will be led by Department of Health Minister Chiu Wen-ta (邱文達), will protest against the wording at the meeting and the ministry would seek support from the nation’s allies at the assembly.