Tue, Dec 16, 2008 - Page 3 News List

Beijing willing to discuss bid to join WHA, Wang says

By Jenny W. Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER, WITH CNA

Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) said yesterday that, according to his understanding, the Chinese government would welcome visits by Taiwanese officials to discuss issues concerning Taiwan’s bid to participate in the World Health Assembly (WHA) as an observer.

“Although it is said that China is willing to make concessions on the matter, the road to negotiations will probably not be easy,” Wang said.

Taiwan has been excluded from the WHA and all other UN auxiliary organizations since 1979 after it withdrew its membership from the UN. Beijing’s relentless obstruction has been the main reason for Taiwan’s failed attempts re-enter the global body in the past 11 years.

Wang made the remarks during the opening ceremony of the 2008 International Conference on East Asia Regional Development in Taipei yesterday.

Wang also urged other East Asian countries to support Taiwan’s involvement in the international community by throwing their weight behind it’s bid for observer status at the WHA in May, as well as the IMF and other organizations related to food, climate and civil aviation.

Wang also called on Beijing to consider making a friendly gesture on the matter rather than thwarting Taiwan’s international participation.

“The stability of the East Asia region will be much improved when both sides are willing to shelve their differences, set aside aggression and work toward mutually beneficial goals,” he said.

In his address Wang reiterated that, during his meeting with Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait Chairman Chen Yunlin (陳雲林) earlier last month, he expressed the hope of the Taiwanese that the peaceful development of cross-strait relations would include the removal of Chinese missiles targeting Taiwan and granting Taiwan appropriate international space in order to alleviate cross-strait confrontation.

Wang said that only by putting aside disputes and resolving conflicts could Taiwan and China work together to create a win-win situation. He concluded his address by saying that he deeply understood the importance of enhancing Taiwan’s diplomatic relations for the nation’s political and economic stability.

In response to President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) recent remark that he hoped Taiwan would be able to attend the WHA as an observer, Chen said yesterday that the WHA issue would be discussed at the upcoming consultations between the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the Chinese Communist Party.

Asked by a Hong Kong-based reporter whether the discussions would be formal or merely an exchange of ideas, Chen was quoted as saying: “I should think the matter will be given serious attention.”

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