Thu, Apr 02, 2009 - Page 3 News List

Lawmakers urge protest over 2005 WHO-Beijing deal

By Jenny W. Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Social Welfare and Environmental Hygiene Committee passed a resolution yesterday urging the Department of Health (DOH) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to lodge a stern protest with the WHO regarding a 2005 memorandum of understanding (MOU) it signed with Beijing to limit Taiwan’s access to the organization.

The ministry and DOH, however, feel a protest would be unnecessary because Taiwan has never and will never accept the MOU’s arrangements, which stipulate that all communications between the WHO and Taiwan must proceed via Beijing.

Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Huang Sue-ying (黃淑英) said the MOU denigrated Taiwan’s sovereignty and the government must express its discontent.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Ho Tsai-feng (侯彩鳳) said the government must never acquiesce to any agreements or arrangements that belittles Taiwan’s sovereignty or puts the public’s health in jeopardy.

Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs David Lin (林永樂) said government has never and will never accept the MOU’s arrangements.

The government did not sent a written protest to WHO in 2005, he said, because it had decided to “completely ignore” the document although the representative office in Geneva had protested through diplomatic channels to the WHO secretariat at the time.

Department of Health Minister Yeh Chin-chuan (葉金川) said Taiwan had stayed mum about the MOU four years ago because “we refused to recognize the effectiveness” of the document, adding that Taiwan’s possible admission to the World Health Assembly (WHA) as an observer would result from an invitation from the WHO secretariat, which has nothing to do with the MOU.

Both officials said the use of “Chinese Taipei” as the designation in the upcoming WHA bid would be the country’s bottom line.

The ideal designation, Lin said, was “Republic of China.” He said the government would never agree to anything below the bottom line.

In a recent interview with the United Daily News, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said the cross-strait negotiation on Taiwan’s WHA future would be conducted in a third country.

Lin confirmed yesterday that the talks would not be in Beijing, but refused to give a location or date. Lin also rebuffed the rumor that former Control Yuan president Frederick Chien (錢復) — who will be the country’s envoy to the annual Boao Forum this year — would launch formal discussions with Beijing on the issue of Taiwan’s WHO participation when he meets Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (溫家寶) at the forum.

Lin said Chien would be attending the forum as a private citizen and had no authority to negotiate on behalf of the government. But Chien was free to discuss the issue with Wen if it came up in conversation, he said.

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