Sun, May 18, 2008 - Page 3 News List

US to support Taiwan's WHA observer bid

By Jenny W. Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

The US government is expected to give Taiwan bipartisan support tomorrow as the nation launches its 12th bid to obtain observer status at the annual World Health Assembly (WHA), said Joseph Wu (吳釗燮), Taiwan's representative in Washington yesterday.

Speaking to Taiwanese reporters, Wu said the US had agreed to throw its weight behind Taiwan’s bid as it has done since 2004, but would not waver from opposing Taiwan’s participation in international organizations that require sovereignty.

Wu said US Secretary of Health and Human Services Michael Leavitt was expected to write a letter to WHO Director-General Margaret Chan (陳馮富珍) on granting Taiwan observer status at the WHA, as he has done in past years.

The WHA is the highest decision-making body within the WHO. The assembly meets annually in Geneva, Switzerland, to deliberate on issues such as new member applications.

This year’s WHA begins tomorrow and will run through Saturday.

Wu said that the US, along with Japan and Canada, were expected to cast affirmative votes if Taiwan’s bid is successfully put to the floor for a roll-call vote tomorrow.

Several ranking members of the US House of Representatives and the Senate have penned three letters to US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to express their concerns about Taiwan’s growing difficulty in attending sponsored technical meetings following the signing between Beijing and the WHO of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) limiting Taiwan’s access to WHO events.

The MOU not only prevents the WHO from exercising its mandate of safeguarding global public health, but it also jeopardizes the health rights of the 23 million people in Taiwan, the letters said.

Wu said that despite the election of Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) as president, Beijing had not shown any signs of easing its grip on Taiwan’s international space.

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