President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday defended Taiwan’s participation in the annual World Health Assembly (WHA), and said the government would seek to join more international organizations via the WHA model.
Amid challenges from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) about the government’s protest over the WHO addressing Taiwan as “a province of China” in an internal memo, Ma said the people should cherish the nation’s participation in the international health body and work together to strive for more achievements in the field of health.
Despite continuous difficulties participating in international organizations, Taiwan returned to the WHA in 2009 under the official title of “Chinese Taipei” and was able to participate in the assembly, rather than limited to technical meetings, Ma said.
“Although Taiwan still faces many difficulties in taking part in international activities, it has gradually made a breakthrough,” Ma said.
“We will copy our experience of participating in the WHA and join more international organizations on the basis of that model. -Hopefully, Taiwanese will cherish the achievements we have made over the years and strive for more rights for the nation,” he said when meeting with medical staff at Mackay Memorial Hospital.
The revelation of the memo sparked challenges from the DPP over the nation’s sovereignty under the Ma administration. The DPP also demanded a boycott of the WHA meeting.
The Ma administration ignored such criticism and sent Department of Health Minister Chiu Wen-ta (邱文達) to attend the annual meeting last week.
Chiu, who returned to Taiwan on Friday, also attended the event yesterday.
In a letter dated Saturday last week to WHO Director-General Margaret Chan (陳馮富珍), which he signed off by addressing himself as “Minister of Department of Health, Chinese Taipei,” Chiu protested “improper procedures and erroneous terminology” used in the leaked WHO memo from last year. Yesterday Chiu said that his protest letter had made the nation’s stance clear during the WHA and urged the DPP to work with the government in defending Taiwanese sovereignty.