Department of Health (DOH) Minister Chiu Wen-ta (邱文達) left for Geneva yesterday to attend this year’s World Health Assembly (WHA) — the decisionmaking arm of the WHO.
His trip comes amid a new controversy involving Taiwan’s sovereignty and the WHO.
The nation’s initial happiness at being invited to attend the annual assembly as an observer turned sour after a Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislator revealed on Monday that the WHO refers to -Taiwan as a province of China in all of its communications.
Chiu, who will stopover in London before arriving in Geneva, said prior to his departure that he would lodge a formal written protest with the WHO, condemning its denigration of Taiwan’s sovereign status.
“We have drafted a letter of protest which will be delivered to the WHO authorities when I arrive in Geneva,” Chiu said.
Chiu said he had been invited to attend this year’s WHA in a dignified and respectful manner.
In the WHO’s letter of invitation, Chiu was referred to as health minister of “Chinese Taipei,” Taiwan’s official designation as a WHA observer.
Chiu said he would deliver speeches at three major sessions during the 64th WHA, which starts on Monday and runs until May 24.
Taiwanese officials will also speak at 14 other technical sessions.
“We must seize every opportunity to take part in international conferences or activities to have our voice and opinions heard and to defend our national interests,” Chiu said.
His remarks were seen a response to DPP Legislator Wong Chin-chu’s (翁金珠) earlier suggestion that Taiwan should withdraw from this year’s WHA to protest the “province of China” reference.
Taiwan was first invited to attend the WHA as an observer in 2009 after it had spent nearly 13 years struggling to be reinstated as a member of the 193-member WHO.