Seminar reviews Geneva mistakes - Taipei Times
Mon, May 26, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Seminar reviews Geneva mistakes

DEBATE Some academics accused the `one China' policy of confusing the issue while others said it may be wise for Taiwan to apply as a sovereign state

By Melody Chen  /  STAFF REPORTER

Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Michael Kau, right, addresses a seminar hosted by the Institute for National Policy Research yesterday to discuss the strategies used for Taiwan's WHO entry bid. President of the Foundation of Medical Professionals Alliance in Taiwan Wu Shuh-min, left, and DPP Legislator Parris Chang also attended the event.


The Institute for National Policy Research hosted a seminar yesterday to review Taiwan's strategy to enter the World Health Organization (WHO) after the country's seventh application for observer status in the World Health Assembly (WHA) failed.

The seminar's panelists were officials attending the WHA in Geneva and academics studying the history of Taiwan's WHO bid.

Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Michael Kau (高英茂), who just returned from Geneva, said a key problem of Taiwan's WHO bid is the mindset of the "one China" principle.

Many EU countries would have liked to support Taiwan's WHO bid this year, but they would do so only under the "one China" principle, according to Kau.

Calling the "one China" principle a political fiction, Kau said that dissolving EU countries' mindset regarding the fictional principle is crucial in promoting Taiwan's bid in the future.

While Spain and France opposed Taiwan's WHA observership bid last year, this year's stance by EU member countries, neither activity for or against Taiwan's application to join the WHA, was regarded as remarkable progress.

Presidential Advisor Wu Shuh-min (吳樹民), who headed the Foundation of Medical Professionals Alliance in Taiwan suggested Taiwan apply for WHO membership next year. The foundation is Taiwan's major lobbying group for this year's WHO bid.

Wu, who has attended the annual WHA since 1997, said it does not matter in which name Taiwan applies for WHA observer status.

"We should directly apply for membership in the name of Taiwan next year," he said.

While sharing his experience in Geneva, Wu remarked that Taiwan cared too much about how other countries felt.

"Taiwan is a sovereign country. Our people have the right to express their opinions. Holding a referendum on whether Taiwan should join the WHO would be a significant step forward in our bid to join the organization," Wu said.

DPP Legislator Parris Chang (張旭成), who also traveled to Geneva to join the assembly, supported the government's proposal to run an advisory referendum on Taiwan's WHO membership next March.

"No matter if China cares about the result of our referendum or not, at least the referendum can draw international attention to our efforts to join the WHO," Chang said.

"The referendum will further authorize Taiwan's application to become a WHO member," he added.

Chang also reviewed a technical problem of the WHA. After the WHA general committee rejected Taiwan's observership application, a debate between China, Pakistan, Panama and Senegal took place in the following WHA plenary meeting about Taiwan's application.

When the Panama and Senegal delegates both spoke for Taiwan, the Panama delegate spoke for nine minutes and the Senegal delegate only two to three minutes, Chang said.

Chang said it would be helpful for Taiwan's observership application if delegates from Taiwan's allies can present longer and better-structured arguments for Taiwan in next year's WHA.

Song Yann-huei (宋燕輝), an Academia Sinica researcher, said Taiwan needs to be cautious in deciding to enter the WHO as an observer or a member.

Noting that Taiwan has never applied for the WHA observership as a sovereign state over the past seven years, Song asserted that Taiwan has nevertheless garnered considerable international and political support for its bid to become a WHA observer.

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