■ TravelUK issues advisory
The UK joined the list of nations advising its citizens against travel to Taipei yesterday in response to a World Health Organization (WHO) travel advisory. "The Chief Medical Officer at the Department of Health -- on the basis of information from the WHO -- has strongly advised the British public to defer travel to Taipei in Taiwan for the time being due to the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome [SARS]," the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office Web site states. The British Trade and Cultural Office (BTCO) informed British citizens resident in Taiwan of the advisory in an e-mail yesterday but urged them not to panic. "This does not mean that we advise you to leave Taipei," Alan Dillon, BTCO spokesman said in the e-mail.
China still says no
China opposes the participation of Taiwan in the WHO, even as an observer, China's official Xinhua news agency reported. It quoted Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue (章啟月) as saying a request from the Marshall Islands that Taiwan attend a WHO meeting had no legal basis and violated the organisation's principles. "The Chinese government firmly opposes such a move," Xinhua quoted her as saying in a report issued late on Thursday. "Taiwan, a province of China, is not eligible to participate in the WHO or attend the WHO conference as an observer," Xinhua quoted Zhang as saying. "China opposes any political maneuvers made in the name of health issues."
No visa for workers
Taiwan has temporarily suspended the issuing of visas to workers from the Philippines due to severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) considerations, sources from the Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) said. Taiwan authorities will impose the restriction for three days, starting yeserday, as the Philippines has been listed by the WHO as one of the many SARS-affected areas around the world, CLA officials said. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will review and decide on May 12 whether the suspension on the issuing of visas to people from WHO-listed SARS-affected areas will be lifted or continued, the CLA officials said. Some 550 Philippine nationals are expected to be affected by the measure over the following few days, the officials estimated.
Groups protest `China' label
Seven Taiwanese-American groups sent a joint letter to US President George W. Bush Thursday protesting the designation of Taiwan used in an annual world human rights report released by the US Department of State at the end of March. In its "Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2002, " Taiwan was referred to as "China (Taiwan only) " while the People's Republic of China was designated as "China (including Tibet, Hong Kong and Macau)." The Taiwanese groups said in their letter that they were very much surprised by what they said was the "inappropriate and misleading" designation of Taiwan. Quoting President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), the letter said that Taiwan is a sovereign state and not part of any other country. Nor is a local government or a province of any other country, it added. The letter continued that Taiwan is neither Hong Kong nor Macau and that the State Department's description of Taiwan is confusing and misleading.