Tue, May 20, 2003 - Page 2 News List

Ditch politics, KMT asks China

By Sandy Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

KMT Vice Chairman Wu Poh-hsiung clenches his fist while addressing the party's meeting convened yesterday to discuss ways to boost Taiwan's bid for observer status in the World Health Organization.

PHOTO: SHIH CHI-HUNG, TAIPEI TIMES

KMT Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) yesterday called on China to ditch its political agenda and not block Taiwan's bid to enter the World Health Organization (WHO).

"We sincerely hope that China would stop using politics to hurt the people in Taiwan and block the country's bid for WHO observership. People in Taiwan are suffering from the SARS outbreak and urgently need assistance from the WHO," said Lien.

Lien made the remarks in his opening address at a KMT meeting convened to discuss ways to boost Taiwan's bid for observer status in the WHO.

"We hope that China would cultivate a new mindset in view of the SARS crisis, which has created a platform for both sides to step out and ameliorate mutual relationships to ensure cross-strait peace," Lien added.

Stressing that both sides of the Strait are confronting a common invisible enemy, the SARS virus, Lien said it is time to put aside political differences to accomplish the common goal of combating the disease.

According to sources inside the Taiwanese delegation in Geneva, growing sympathy shown by many countries toward the country's WHO observer bid because of the SARS outbreak has unnerved China. Sha Zukang (沙祖康), China's ambassador based in Geneva, had visited all of Taiwan's 27 allies' representatives to the WHO in an attempt to block the bid, the sources say.

"China ought not to work against Taiwan gaining entry to the WHO and let both sides of the Strait become the laughing stock of the international community because they can't even cooperate in the face of a serious common threat such as SARS," Lien said.

Lien added that Taiwan should not be excluded from the international health body simply because of politics, as health-care concerns know no political boundaries.

"It would be inhumane to exclude Taiwan from the WHO," he said.

Speaking after Lien, KMT Vice Chairman Wu Poh-hsiung (吳伯雄), convener of the party's WHO impetus task force, urged China to stop acting like a bully.

"We hope that China will stop acting like a bully and see the wisdom behind allowing Taiwan to participate in the WHO," he said. He added that another purpose of the meeting was to convey a message to the general public, as well as the international community, that the country's opposition party supports the bid.

This is the seventh year that Taiwan has attempted to obtain some form of recognition in the international health body.

Since last year, Taiwan has employed a more practical approach and tried to position itself as a "health entity" to further its bid.

Wu said that bidding is a continuous effort regardless of what political party is in power, and that the country would continue its efforts next year if the bid fails.

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