Sat, May 17, 2003 - Page 2 News List

Chen reiterates stance, writes to the Vatican

By Lin Chieh-yu  /  STAFF REPORTER, WITH DPA

Three days before the World Health Assembly (WHA) is to convene, President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday repeated his call that the Chinese government not try to silence Taiwan in its calls to join the World Health Organization (WHO), saying that it would only enlarge the gap between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait.

"Turning Taiwan down simply will isolate Taiwan and its 23 million citizens," the president said when receiving a delegation headed for the World Health Assembly (WHA).

"Taiwan should not be forever shut outside the doors of the WHO by China," he said.

Chen restated that there are no boundaries in the medical world and pursuit of the best possible health care is a basic human right.

"No country has the right to use any excuses to prevent another country from attaining medical care, but that is what Taiwan is going through," Chen said.

"A rejection of Taiwan is tantamount to depriving all 23 million Taiwanese of their rights to have welfare and security," he said.

The president then called on the delegates to work together and mobilize their full strength to stand up and speak for Taiwan to bring the true voice of Taiwan to the international community.

Meanwhile, the president yesterday wrote a letter to the Pope John Paul II, asking for his support of Taiwan's WHO bid.

"The SARS outbreak is high-lighting the importance of all-inclusive engagement in international cooperation. As we seek to control this disease, victory will require global collaboration which is not subject to the discriminatory choosing of participants," Chen said in the letter to the Pontiff.

"As Taiwan strives to take its rightful seat in institutions like the WHO, we will be counting on the support of .... the Catholic leadership.

"For the sake of Taiwan's 23 million citizens, including our health workers who are forced to fight SARS without any support and assistance from WHO, I sincerely hope Your Holiness will stand behind us in this just pursuit," he wrote.

The Vatican is one of 27 countries which have diplomatic ties with Taiwan.

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