The US Department of State is supporting Taiwan’s continued “observer status” in the 193-member World Health Assembly (WHA), the supreme governing body of the WHO.
“As we plan for the 63rd WHA session this May, the US welcomes the extension of WHA’s invitation once again to Taiwan to send an observer delegation,” read a statement issued on Tuesday night in Washington.
“The invitation to attend the 2009 WHA was issued after the People’s Republic of China agreed to Taiwan’s participation,” the statement said.
Observers said that this was the first time the US had officially showed that Taiwan’s participation in the WHA was fully contingent on approval by Beijing.
“Of course, we always knew what was going on,” said Coen Blaauw, executive director of the Formosan Association for Public Relations.
“But it is still chilling to see it written down. Taiwan’s participation in the WHA is at the complete mercy of the PRC,” he said.
“The participation of Taiwan in the WHA was a positive development and could provide a model for Taiwan’s participation as an observer in other UN bodies,” the State Department said.
“Taiwan has demonstrated its ability to positively participate in efforts to address global health issues,” the state department statement said.
“We will coordinate closely with like-minded nations to effectively provide support for Taiwan’s meaningful participation in the work of the WHO,” it added.
It added that the US had a “longstanding commitment” to finding practical ways to advance Taiwan’s participation in the work of the WHO.
“Our goal will be for the WHO to regularly invite Taiwan every year to attend the WHA as an observer,” the statement said.
It said the WHO made progress toward providing Taiwan greater access to the work of the organization and that the Secretariat established a mechanism for Taiwan’s direct participation in the implementation of the WHO’s International Health Regulations (IHR).
At the same time, the statement was careful to remain politically correct.
“The United States will continue to work with the WHO and its member states to advance the universal application of the IHR and to involve Taiwan’s experts in relevant technical meetings of the WHO consistent with our ‘one China’ policy,” the statement concluded.