Fri, Nov 10, 2006 - Page 2 News List

MOFA congratulates HK doctor on WHO position

GOOD NEIGHBOR Even before Margaret Chan was formally confirmed in Geneva, the foreign ministry was urging her to consider Taiwan's bid for observer status


The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) yesterday urged the woman set to become the WHO's next director-general, Margaret Chan (陳馮富珍), to put aside her political stance and take the health of Taiwan's 23 million people into consideration during her term as head of the world's top health agency.

The Hong Kong-born Chan was expected win the necessary two-thirds majority of the WHO's governing World Health Assembly in vote in Geneva late yesterday.

Chan was chosen on Wednesday by the assembly's executive board over four other candidates to fill the post vacated by the death in May of Lee Jong-wook. The assembly has never rejected an executive board nominee.

Beijing had strongly promoted her candidacy.

Ministry spokesman David Wang (王建業) told a press briefing yesterday that the government congratulated Chan on her appointment.

Taiwan will have frequent contacts with Chan from now on in terms of its annual bid to enter the WHO and the ministry hopes that Chan would consider Taiwan's membership in the WHO, he said.

He said Taiwan has made conspicuous progress in its attempts to join the WHO because of the efforts made by the ministry and the people of Taiwan in recent years.

"More and more members of the WHO have realized the importance and necessity of Taiwan's participation in the world's top health organization," he said. "So we expect that Chan would stick to the spirit of the WHO that aims to provide good health care to all global citizens and not exclude the people of Taiwan from WHO any longer."

However, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said yesterday that Taiwan could not expect a more sympathetic hearing of its attempts to join the WHO.

"Our stance is clear. The World Health Organization is made up of sovereign states, so as a part of China, Taiwan has no right to join," Jiang Yu (姜瑜) told a news briefing in Beijing. "This is not a decision to be made by the director-general alone."

In May, the WHO rejected for the 10th consecutive year Taiwan's bid for observer status. Taiwan says its exclusion endangers efforts to stamp out dangerous diseases.

Jiang also sought to rebut speculation that Chan might be too close to Beijing: "We are confident that Margaret Chan will independently carry out her duties to serve all member states according to the WHO charter."

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