Partisan sniping over the WHO decision to designate Taiwan a “province of China” continued to escalate yesterday, with the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) responding to allegations that it had previously accepted the “insult.”
The latest round of accusations came one day after Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Shen Lyu-shun (沈呂巡) said that the former DPP administration accepted the term “Taiwan, China” 18 times when attending WHO events in 2005, raising the question of who is to blame for the latest furor.
Shen made the remarks amid controversy over Taiwan’s status in the WHO, following DPP Legislator Kuan Bi-ling’s (管碧玲) disclosure earlier this week of an internal WHO memo that instructed staff to refer to Taiwan as “Taiwan, Province of China.”
The public would decide “who had damaged national sovereignty more,” Shen, Taiwan’s representative to the EU during the period, said on Wednesday.
President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), meanwhile, at a separate setting yesterday, also challenged the DPP over its handling of similar situations when it was in power.
DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), who previously served as vice premier, should understand the difficulties the nation confronted in the international community as Taiwan was similarly referred to as a province of China when participating in the WHO under the DPP administration, he said.
The WHO changed Taiwan’s designation to “Chinese Taipei” and invited the Minister of Health to attend the annual World Health Assembly (WHA), only after he took office, Ma said.
“Did anyone in the DPP think the former government disgraced the nation? Was the then-government aware of the situation? How did the then-government handle it? We should also look more closely at how the former government handled the situation,” he said.
Ma then issued a call for a non-partisan effort to defend Taiwan’s sovereignty and expand the space available to the nation for international engagement.
At a press conference held in response to the allegations, DPP spokesperson Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) released official documents suggesting that officials were expressly barred from accepting names like “Taiwan, China” and “Taipei, China” when the DPP was in office. If an event such as this did occur, Shen would have been held personally responsible, Chen added.
“What he describes slaps himself in the face,” Chen said, clutching former DPP administration memos that instructed agencies to use either “Taiwan” or the government agency name, followed by a city name, that he said were given to Shen.
“Shen is clearly and completely mistaken on this issue ... [he] shouldn’t have played the blame game. The naming controversy is an issue that should transcend partisan fighting,” Chen added.
Responding to Ma’s claim that the DPP administration condoned similar action, another DPP spokesperson, Cheng Wen-tsang (鄭文燦), said Ma “needed to take a look in the mirror.”
DPP lawmakers launched a fresh round of attacks earlier in the morning, accusing the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) of masterminding an agreement between Beijing and the WHO that relegated Taiwan’s status to that of a -Chinese province, as evidenced by the memo.
DPP Legislator Gao Jyh-peng (高志鵬) said that a 2005 Memorandum of Understanding between China and the WHO, which referred to Taiwan as “Taiwan, China,” came shortly after closed-door talks between the KMT and Chinese officials.