Fri, Apr 27, 2007 - Page 3 News List

MAC slams China for interference in bid to join WHO

AGENCIES , TAIPEI

Agencies, Taipei

The Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) slammed China yesterday over its opposition to Taiwan's bid to join the WHO, saying China's intolerance toward the nation's inclusion in the global health care system signifies its contempt for human rights.

The council issued the press statement after China unleashed ugly invective the day before against Taiwan's WHO membership bid.

A spokesman for China's Taiwan Affairs Office said on Wednesday that Beijing strongly opposed Taiwan's new bid to join the WHO under the name "Taiwan" because as part of China, it was not eligible to join the WHO as a member or quasi-member.

The spokesman also claimed that Taiwan was not qualified to join the World Health Assembly (WHA), the WHO's highest decision-making body, as an observer. The statement further accused Taiwan of using the WHO bid as a ploy aimed at elevating its pro-independence secessionist activities to an international forum.

On Wednesday, the WHO rejected Taiwan's application to become a member, a request made by President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) in a letter to WHO Director-General Margaret Chan (陳馮富珍).

"The WHO's legal consultants, after studying UN resolutions and the WHO Charter, believe that Taiwan is not a sovereign state and is not eligible to apply for WHO membership. We have notified Taipei of this stance," the Central News Agency quoted WHO spokeswoman Christine McNab as saying.

In response, the MAC deplored China's obstinate bigotry against the reality that the two sides of the Taiwan Strait do not belong to each other.

Saying that health care is a basic human right, the council's statement said epidemic prevention and control know no borders or political doctrines.

With an overwhelming majority of the 23 million people in Taiwan backing their country's participation in the WHO, the council's statement warned China that its indifference to their health rights as shown in its persistent obstruction of Taiwan's WHO membership bid will only enrage them and drive the two sides further apart.

Since 1997, Taiwan's annual drives to become an observer at the WHA as a "health entity" have invariably been thwarted by Beijing. This year, Taiwan adopted a new strategy, with Chen writing to the WHO Secretariat to express Taiwan's intention to join the WHO as a full member under the name of "Taiwan." The bid failed again because of China's opposition.

The council went on to say that the economic and cultural forum to be held in Beijing tomorrow and Sunday between the opposition Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the Chinese Communist Party was just another example of China's "divide and conquer" tactics against Taiwan.

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