Thu, May 08, 2003 - Page 2 News List

China accused of `rubbing salt' into Taiwan's wounds

HITTING BACK The Cabinet's spokesman said Beijing was damaging already fragile cross-strait relations by politicizing a SARS outbreak which originated in south China

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

China is the origin of the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak in Taiwan and should therefore not "rub salt into our wounds" by politicizing the issues, Cabinet Spokesman Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) said yesterday.

"China should stop politicizing the issue because it's not at all conducive to ameliorating already thorny cross-strait relations," Lin said.

As the government and the country's 23 million people have been teaming up to do their best to contain the SARS outbreak, Lin said that the Chinese government should offer substantial assistance instead of voicing ersatz concerns.

"We hope to see more humanitarian actions rather than political propaganda, and genuine help not lip service," he said.

Lin was referring to the recent remarks made by Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) and Premier Wen Jiabao (溫家寶). Hu requested China's health administration to provide assistance to Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan to battle the spread of SARS.

Hu also asked China's health administration to join medical experts in Hong Kong and Taiwan to find an effective treatment for the disease and study prevention measures.

Wen also expressed the Chinese government's interest in cooperating with Hong Kong and Taiwan to control the outbreak.

Instead of making good on what it had promised, Lin said, China has been contriving to hinder Taiwan from gaining access to the World Health Organization (WHO).

"I hope the Chinese government can show some basic respect to us because it's the inherent and inalienable right of a nation to seek entry into an international organization," Lin said. "It's alright that the Chinese government doesn't help in our WHO bid, but it's simply intolerable that it keeps pressuring the international body and other member states from giving us any help."

Lin said that the government is more than happy to work with any country to combat the SARS outbreak, including China.

"To safeguard Taiwanese people's overall health and protect the nation's dignity, we'll do whatever is conducive to preventing the spread of SARS, including medical cooperation with China," Lin said.

However, he said he hopes cooperation is conducted under the framework of the WHO and that China should not consider Taiwan its subordinate.

"It's unacceptable that China accords Taiwan and Hong Kong the same administrative status. It's also inappropriate that China continues to hinder Taiwan from entering the WHO," he said.

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