Speaking about next week’s meeting of the World Health Assembly (WHA), US Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte on Thursday reiterated US policy that Taiwan should be allowed to participate as an observer.
“We think they should be allowed to participate as an observer, particularly in organizations like the WHO, where their participation in matters of public health is important, not only to them but to the international community as a whole,” he said.
Negroponte made the remarks at a hearing held by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
However, he declined to specify what the US planned to do next week to help Taiwan gain such a status.
“I cannot comment on the tactics of our upcoming participation [in the WHA] because I’m not fully familiar [with them],” he told reporters afterward, adding that the US position was “we believe that even in organizations that require statehood for membership and, of course, we don’t consider Taiwan a separate independent state, Taiwan should be afforded meaningful participation, such as observer status, and that would certainly be important in an organization such as the WHO.”
In its annual report to Congress earlier this year on its efforts to obtain observer status for Taiwan, the department did not refer to any efforts it plans to introduce such as a resolution, a vote for any such resolution or to press other countries to back Taiwan’s observer status.
Taiwan, under its official title, the Republic of China (ROC), was one of the founding members of the global health organization, but was forced to forfeit its seat in 1972 after the ROC’s seat at the UN was taken by the People’s Republic of China.
Since 1997, Taipei’s annual attempts at observer status have been thwarted by Beijing, which says Taiwan has no right to join the organization — as a member, quasi-member or observer.
Joseph Wu (吳釗燮), Taiwan’s de facto ambassador in Washington, said last week that Taiwan expected the US to lead the push for observer status on its behalf at the WHO despite China’s persistent opposition.
This year, the annual WHA, the highest decision-making body of the WHO, will meet between Monday and Saturday next week. The 192 member countries meet once a year to agree on policies and appoint a director-general.