The government continues to oppose the designation “Taiwan, China” used at the UN and on some occasions has requested that UN officials change the reference in documents used for their visa applications to enter Taiwan, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Shen Lyu-shun (沈呂巡) said yesterday.
At least three WHO officials were told to replace the reference to “Taiwan, China” in documents used to apply for Republic of China visas with “your authority” or “your government” between 2005 and 2008, when he was representative in Geneva, Switzerland, Shen said.
“Not only then, but recently a visa application from an official with another UN agency was rejected because of the name issue,” Shen said at a press conference at the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislative caucus’ office. “His application was not processed until he submitted revised documents without the reference.”
He strongly disapproved of criticism from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) over the reaction of President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration to a WHO memo that referred to Taiwan as a “Province of China,” Shen said.
The WHO Secretariat issued the memo on Sept. 14 last year, asking its agencies to follow procedures in implementing the International Health Regulations (IHR) with respect to “Taiwan Province of China” because of a pact with Beijing.
Proof that the government is strict on the designation issue is the requirement that WHO officials seeking a visa for travel to Taiwan not refer to Taiwan as “Taiwan, China,” “Taipei, China” or “Taiwan, province of China” in their applications, Shen said.
He said he had asked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) to require WHO officials to sign a statement stating that their visit had nothing to do with China, but the idea was not approved, although — at his insistence — visa interviews were conducted with all applicants.
“I interviewed [each applicant] in a very polite way, either by treating them to a meal or coffee. However, they had to show me formal WHO documents stating the purpose of their visit to make sure no mention of ‘Taiwan, China’ was made,” Shen said.
Compared with the format under which Taiwan attended a conference on SARS in Kuala Lumpur in 2003 and technical activities at the WHO in 2005, Taiwan has received better treatment at the global health body since 2009, Shen said.
Taiwan attended the meeting of the World Health Assembly — the WHO’s decision-making body — as an observer for the first time in May 2009 under the name “Chinese Taipei.”
Documents provided by Shen showed the WHO Secretariat in 2005 invited “Taiwan, China” to attend its technical activities “at the director-general level.”
The designation was eventually changed to “DOH [Department of Health], Taipei” in an invitation sent to replace the original invitation following a protest by Taipei, Shen said. However, the reference remained in all documents on the technical activities, he said.
“We protested the reference, but to no avail. The then-[DPP] government knew that and decided to attend the technical activities. Under that name, we attended the meeting 18 times,” Shen said.
Given the international situation, one could hardly criticize the decision because Taipei had to accept the indignity in order to take care of its people, even though it was an “insult” to Taiwan, Shen said.
The WHO invited Taiwan to attend the 2003 SARS conference by sending an invitation to China’s Permanent Mission in Geneva and asking it to forward the invitation to Beijing before giving it to Taiwan, Shen said.
After Taiwan’s inclusion in the IHR and in the WHA as an observer, improvements have been made in its access in terms of the name of its delegation, the rank of officials invited to events and the level of meetings in which Taiwanese can participate, Shen said.
Meanwhile, the representative office in Geneva lodged a verbal and written protest with the WHO Secretariat over the memo at 6pm on Monday, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Shen Ssu-tsun (沈斯淳) said.
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