Fri, May 30, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Ministry of Foreign Affairs considers change of strategy

WHO BID The ministry is studying trying to join the health body as a country, but a change in Taiwan's political climate could alter those plans


The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) is considering bidding for membership in the World Health Organization (WHO) as a country next year, but it will also consider such factors as international support and the domestic political situation, a MOFA official said yesterday.

Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Michael Kau (高英茂) made the remarks at a committee meeting in the legislature to report on Taiwan's bid to join the UN-affiliated body as a health entity this year. Taiwan suffered its seventh-consecutive failure in its bid thanks to China's obstruction.

Kau said the ministry worked hard to solicit support for the bid to join the World Health Assembly, the highest decision-making body of the WHO, as an observer but the efforts have been in vain.

He said the ministry has always proceeded with caution and pragmatism, but as the ministry is not the nation's highest decision-making body, it will have to take into consideration whether the idea can get international support and what the political situation in Taiwan will be like in considering a bid as a country.

Kau said that Taiwan had tried to be a WHA observer, while China has used the term "immoral" to describe Taiwan's efforts. This shows China's "political considerations" in dealing with the matter, he said.

Kau said the purpose of the WHO is to take care of the health of all people, the 23 million people on Taiwan included. If it refuses to do so, the WHO will face moral and judicial challenges, he said.

Meanwhile, the US Department of State said Wednesday that it supported the way the World Health Assembly (WHA) amended international health regulations to allow Taiwan to participate in disease prevention.

An official said that a resolution passed by the WHA on Tuesday means the WHO will respond duly to any requests for assistance during a health crisis.

The official said the SARS crisis has highlighted the importance of dealing with each member of the international community when facing a global health problem and that such exchanges must include Taiwan.

The official said the statement of Sha Zukang (沙祖康), China's representative to the UN in Geneva, is unacceptable. Sha said that such contacts should be conducted through "related countries."

The official said the US could not accept such a restriction, adding that the wording of the resolution of the WHA that the WHO should duly respond to all requests is quite clear.

The official would not comment on the role played by the US in the mapping out and passage of the resolution.

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