Thu, May 22, 2003 - Page 3 News List

US responds to Taiwan's rejection at health assembly

By Charles Snyder  /  STAFF WRITER IN WASHINGTON

The US State Department issued a non-committal statement in response to Taiwan's failure in the World Health Assembly, cautioning Taipei that gaining observer status will be a prolonged effort and failing to criticize China or other countries that stymied Taiwan's efforts.

"Gaining sufficient support for observer status will require a long term effort, as the overwhelming majority of countries do not recognize Taiwan and are not likely to vote in favor of Taiwan's observer status in the WHO," the department said.

It said that the US is "encouraged by the expressions of support for Taiwan's participation in the work of the WHO from the EU and Japan this year."

But it was silent on the role China played to prevent Taiwan from being placed on the World Health Assembly agenda for discussion and a vote, and on the 27 countries that voted against Taiwan's position.

The statement reiterated Washington's oft-repeated standard position on Taiwan's participation in the WHO.

"We support the goal of Taiwan's participation in the work of the World Health Organization, including observer status, and have long worked closely with Taiwan authorities to advance that objective," the department said.

It also mentioned that Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson, the head of the US delegation at the WHA meeting in Geneva, spoke in favor of Taiwan's position.

"The need for effective public health exists among all peoples. That's why the United States has strongly supported Taiwan's inclusion in efforts against SARS and beyond. If we are truly serious about stopping this disease in its tracks, then we cannot ignore millions of people who are at risk," Thompson said.

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