Sat, Jan 03, 2009 - Page 3 News List

MOFA mum about name to be used in WHA observer bid

By Jenny W. Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) yesterday refused to confirm media reports that Beijing was prepared to give a green-light to Taiwan’s bid to become an observer at the World Health Assembly (WHA) this year under the designation “Chinese Taipei.”

Japanese newspaper Sankei Shimbun reported that the Chinese Community Party had reached an internal consensus to clear the path for Taiwan’s annual WHA bid this year under the name “Chinese Taipei” — the moniker Taiwan uses in various international organizations, such as the International Olympic Committee and the World Organization for Animal Health. However, the name is disliked by the pan-green camp, which views it as self-denigrating.

On Wednesday, Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) gave a speech in which he said that China was willing to discuss the possibility of augmenting Taiwan’s international breathing space under the condition that any participation did not suggest a scenario of “two Chinas” or “one China, one Taiwan.”

“The current status of Taiwan’s WHA bid is that the administration is still mulling what would be the best entry strategy for this year. We will consider every option that is beneficial for Taiwan,” MOFA deputy spokesman James Chang (章計平) said yesterday, adding that there was still plenty of time to weigh all the options, as the annual assembly is not held until May.

The ministry’s Department of International Organizations, Chang said, was watching the situation closely and would enter into negotiations with Beijing on the issues as required.

“We are optimistic that both sides will take the necessary steps to safeguard the health rights of its people,” Chang said.

Earlier this week, department head Paul Chang (章文樑) announced that Taiwan would not pitch its bid to the WHA Executive Board this month in order to concentrate its efforts on the May assembly. At the time he declined to confirm whether Taiwan planned to use “Chinese Taipei” in its efforts. Taiwan will never accept becoming Beijing’s “associate member,” he said.

The newspaper quoted an anonymous source from Beijing as saying that China’s agreement to Taiwan’s participation in the body was indicative that Beijing would make further concessions on Taiwan’s diplomatic standing.

The Republic of China was one of the original members of the organization when it was created in 1948.

The government had to withdraw its membership in 1971 when it forfeited its UN seat. Taiwan has been trying to re-enter the organization since 1997, but each attempt has been undermined by Beijing.

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