The press conference called by President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday to accuse the WHO of denigrating Taiwan’s sovereignty, was the bare minimum required of a head of the state in such a situation Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators said.
They called on Ma to do more and to direct his ire toward China for politically pressuring the WHO.
“There has been a great discrepancy [between Ma’s remarks] these past two days. I believe he has been playing election politics,” DPP Legislator Kuan Bi-ling (管碧玲) said, referring to Ma’s comments on the WHO issue on Monday, during which he said Taiwan and China were “on an equal footing” at the World Health Assembly (WHA).
Yesterday, however, Ma presided over a press conference in which he criticized the WHO for referring to Taiwan as a “province of China.” He also urged China not to jeopardize cross-strait relations by seeking to limit Taiwan’s participation in international organizations.
Saying that holding a press conference was the very least a national leader could do when the sovereignty of the nation is called into question, Kuan said the press -conference was not enough.
“There is only one way to tell if Ma really meant it when he said he would express in the most strenuous terms to China, and that is to ask China to instruct [WHO Secretary-General] Margaret Chan (陳馮富珍), who is from China, to send out a memo voiding the current one,” Kuan said. “That is the only way for him to prove that the press conference was not just a performance.”
Kuan also called on Ma to ask the nation’s diplomatic allies to send letters of protest to the WHO, to express their disapproval.
According to a copy obtained by Kuan, a letter issued by Chan’s office dated Sept. 14 last year described the procedures to be followed in implementing the International Health Regulations (2005) with respect to “Taiwan Province of China.” An attachment to the letter said that documents or information referred to in WHO publications needed to use the terminology “Taiwan Province of China” and “be listed or shown as falling under China and not separately as if they referred to a state,” Kuan added.
At a separate setting yesterday, the DPP caucus proposed that the legislature send a letter to the WHO expressing the nation’s anger over the memo and that the government write to the WHO and its member states in protest.
The DPP legislators said that the memo wrongly -interpreted WHA Resolution 25.1, the -regulation on which the WHO said the memo’s definition of Taiwan as a province of China was based. In fact that regulation deals with the Chinese representative to the WHO and makes no mention at all as to the status of Taiwan, the DPP caucus said.
However, the DPP-initiated proposals were not reviewed yesterday.
Earlier yesterday at a question-and-answer session in the legislature, Premier Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) accused the WHO of being “unfriendly” to Taiwan.
“The WHO memo disregarded the fact that Taiwan and China have been ruled separately for many years,” Wu said.
Wu described the WHO’s practice of referring to Taiwan as a province of China as having been undertaken in a “sneaky manner” when he answered questions from Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lu Shiow-yen (盧秀燕).
Lu said the government should protest vociferously when Department of Health (DOH)Minister Chiu Wen-ta (邱文達) attends the WHA meeting next week, adding that “sending a written letter of protest to the WHO” would not be enough.