President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) support for Minister of Health and Welfare Lin Tzou-yien’s (林奏延) speech at the World Health Assembly (WHA) flies in the face of the public’s will, a group of overseas Taiwanese students said in a statement.
In a five-minute speech on Wednesday at the 69th WHA in Geneva, Switzerland, Lin used the term “Chinese Taipei” rather than “Taiwan” throughout his speech.
During her meeting with Lin on Friday after his return home, Tsai said she was satisfied with the delegation’s performance at this year’s WHA.
The same group of students in 2009 staged a protest against then-health minister Yeh Chin-chuan (葉金川) in Geneva.
The students confronted Yeh over his representation of Taiwan at the WHA after a WHO memorandum was disclosed that said WHO publications needed to use the term “Taiwan, Province of China.”
The memorandum was signed between the WHO and China in 2005 establishing exceptional arrangements in regards to participation of Taiwanese medical and public health experts in technical activities organized by the WHO Secretariat and, more importantly, “the consequent obligation of the secretariat to refrain from action that could constitute recognition of a separate status of Taiwanese authorities and institutions.”
The students questioned on what basis Taiwan accepted the invitation to observe the WHA, as the secretariat had signed a memorandum with China that the WHO must handle all affairs pertaining to Taiwan under the understanding that “Taiwan is a part of China.”
Taiwan was first invited to participate in the WHA as an observer in 2009.
The students said they staged the protest in 2009 under the premise that the administration of then-president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) had been invited because of an under-the-table deal with China accepting the term “Chinese Taipei,” but that now they had been disappointed in Lin’s speech.
Lin’s speech was filled with the term “Chinese Taipei” and did not mention “Taiwan,” even when Taiwan’s allies at the WHA called the nation “Taiwan,” the statement said.
Even Yeh in 2009 had mentioned “Taiwan” in his speech, the students said.
The students called on Tsai to recognize that her power stems from the hopes and expectations of millions of Taiwanese, adding that “if the transition of power in Taiwan is simply another administration trampling on Taiwanese sovereignty, then it is a betrayal of the public who voted them into office.”
The Democratic Progressive Party should acknowledge that Taiwan was demeaned by the secretariat’s handling of affairs, imposing the “one China” principle on the nation, and should have referred to Taiwan throughout the speech, the students said, adding that the Taiwanese delegation should be more active in seeking international support in becoming an official WHO member as a sovereign nation.
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