Wed, May 18, 2005 - Page 3 News List

MAC blasts Beijing's move

By Joy Su  /  STAFF REPORTER

Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Michael Kau speaks to reporters regarding Taiwan's failed health bid in Geneva, Switzerland, yesterday.

PHOTO: MELODY CHEN, TAIPEI TIMES

Beijing's moves to block Taiwanese representation at the World Health Organization's annual summit have "inflicted a heavy injury on cross-strait relations," according to the Mainland Affairs Council.

In a harshly worded statement accusing Beijing of hypocrisy, the council charged China of utilizing the opposition leaders' recent China tours to mask its underlying intention of isolating Taiwan from the international community.

"On one hand, China invited Taiwan's opposition leaders to visit ... and it purposely circulated rumors that it would assist Taiwan to participate in WHO activities this year. On the other hand, China went through other diplomatic channels to thoroughly and irrationally bully Taiwan," the statement read.

The Council further put forth its case in the statement, pointing out that Beijng had sent correspondence to Taiwan's allies warning them that "Taiwan is a part of China, and as such not eligible for WHO participation."

"These actions clearly prove that China has used opposition leaders' trips to China to create an opportunity to extend fake sincerity, planning all along to lead Taiwan to relax its calls for international participation. It then secretly took the opportunity to cut Taiwan off from participation in international organizations," the statement said.

It concluded that Beijing's actions had seriously injured bilateral relations.

Despite the deep suspicions evident in the Council's statement, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) took heart in the increasing number of nations speaking in support of Taiwan's bid at the WHO's annual summit, the World Health Assembly, each year.

With Taiwan failing to be added to the WHA agenda for the ninth consecutive year, the ministry measured progress this year by the amount of time Taiwan's bid was debated, and the number of nations that spoke in support of Taiwan during a smaller pre-assembly meeting reviewing the assembly agenda.

MOFA issued a statement yesterday highlighting that the ratio between nations speaking for China and those for Taiwan was increasingly in Taiwan's favor.

"In the past, the number of nations that spoke on Taiwan's behalf was always about one-third or one-fourth those that spoke for China.

Last year was an improvement, with about half the nations speaking in Taiwan's favor ... This year, two-thirds of the nations that contributed to the debate spoke for Taiwan," the statement read.

The statement was referring to the deliberations as to whether or not Taiwan should be added to the assembly agenda during a General Committee meeting held beforehand.

It also noted that Taiwan's petition to be added to the agenda had broken the health body's records with the two-and-a-half hours of debate it inspired. The ministry boasted that the assembly schedule had been delayed an hour or so as a result.

Whether other nations view the record-breaking amount of time devoted to the discussion of Taiwanese participation an achievement is questionable, as the ministry noted in the statement that several countries had urged Taiwan to avoid delaying the assembly, in light of the five-hour debate that last year's bid had prompted.

The ministry concluded its statement by placing the blame on China for Taiwan's failure to be included on the assembly agenda. Inclusion would be necessary for Taiwan to attain WHA observership status.

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