Wed, May 10, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Two US lawmakers urge WHA support for Taiwan

Staff writer, with CNA

Representatives of the Taiwan Society and other pro-independence groups hold signs promoting Taiwan’s participation in the WHO during at a news conference in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Chang Chia-ming, Taipei Times

Two senior members of the US House of Representatives on Monday called for continued support of Taiwan as it became clear that the nation would not be invited to the World Health Assembly (WHA) due to China’s obstruction.

The deadline to register for the event, which opens on May 22 in Geneva, Switzerland, passed on Monday, and Taiwan did not receive an invitation.

Representatives Ed Royce and Eliot Engel, the chairman and ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, made the call in a letter to US Secretary of Health and Human Services Thomas Price.

They urged Price to meet with the delegation that Taiwan is to send to Geneva regardless of whether it can participate in the WHA proceedings and to encourage WHO members to maintain their support for Taiwan’s continued participation in the WHA, the decisionmaking body of the WHO.

They also encouraged Price to visit Taiwan later this year, which they said “would signal strong support for Taiwan’s global health efforts around the world.”

“The global health community does not benefit when Taiwan is kept in the dark on these critical matters. We are all safer when Taiwan has meaningful and unobstructed participation in international health cooperation forums,” they said in the letter.

“In addition to the benefits accrued by the international community from Taiwan’s participation, we should all agree that the health and safety of the people of Taiwan should not be needlessly held hostage by politics,” they said.

Also on Monday, the US Department of State reiterated Washington’s support for Taiwan to expand its contributions to the world community and urged Taipei and Beijing to engage in dialogue.

“The United States remains committed to supporting Taiwan as it seeks to expand its already significant contributions to addressing global challenges,” Bureau for East Asian and Pacific Affairs spokesperson Grace Choi said.

“We encourage authorities in Beijing and Taipei to engage in constructive dialogue on the basis of dignity and respect,” she said in response to questions. “We continue to urge patience, flexibility and creativity on both sides.”

“We support Taiwan’s membership in international organizations that do not require statehood,” Choi said in line with a long-standing US position on Taiwan’s bid to participate in international affairs. “In organizations that require statehood for membership, the United States supports Taiwan’s meaningful participation.”

Choi made the comments after China’s Taiwan Affairs Office Minister Zhang Zhijun (張志軍) on Monday said that the basis for Taiwan’s continued participation in the WHA was gone, as Taipei has refused to comply with Beijing’s demand that it accept the so-called “1992 consensus.”

The “1992 consensus” — a term former Mainland Affairs Council chairman Su Chi (蘇起) admitted making up in 2000 — refers to a tacit understanding between the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the Chinese government that both sides acknowledge there is “one China,” with each side having its own interpretation of what “China” means.

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