Thu, Apr 12, 2018 - Page 3 News List

No demeaning titles to go to WHA: Wu

LAWMAKERS’ PRESSURE:Joseph Wu responded to questions from members of the Foreign and National Defense Committee about efforts to attend the annual meeting

By Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter

Vice Minister of Health and Welfare Ho Chi-kung, left, and Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu yesterday attend a meeting of the Foreign and National Defense Committee at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei.

Photo: Chen Chih-chu, Taipei Times

The government will not accept any demeaning titles in exchange for its attendance at this year’s World Health Assembly (WHA), Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) vowed yesterday during a meeting of the legislature’s Foreign and National Defense Committee.

The committee was reviewing the government’s efforts to push for Taiwan’s participation at the WHA, which is scheduled to be held in Geneva, Switzerland, from May 21 to May 26.

When Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Wang Ding-yu (王定宇) asked if the government would accept observer status under China at the WHA, Wu said: “A major precondition for the nation’s participation [in international events] is that it will not be subject to belittlement. The situation you mentioned is not something we can accept.”

Allies that submitted proposals to WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom for Taiwan to attend the have made it clear that Taiwan’s participation, if granted, would represent the nation’s 23 million people, the minister said.

After being invited to attend the Geneva meetings as an observer for eight consecutive years, Taiwan did not receive an invite last year.

The snub has been considered a reflection of Beijing’s efforts to limit Taiwan’s international space since President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) administration took office in May 2016.

Although Taiwan was able to participate in the WHA during former president Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration, its attendance was always tied to Beijing, as it hinged entirely on China’s permission every year, New Power Party Legislator Freddy Lim (林昶佐) said during the committee meeting.

“We must not go back to accepting the ‘Ma Ying-jeou administration model,’” Lim told Wu.

In related developments, Department of International Organizations Director-General Michael Hsu (徐佩勇) said the US Department of State late last month submitted its annual report to the US Congress on how to assist Taiwan in attending the WHA.

This report indicated that the US’ plan to join hands with other nations to rally support for Taiwan’s bid.

The report also recognized the nation’s world-class medical expertise in clinical surgery, vaccine research and development, and disaster management, Hsu said.

“It also mentioned former US health secretary Tom Price’s condemnation of the WHO’s failure to invite Taiwan to last year’s WHA,” Hsu said.

The ministry has been in contact with the US State Department’s deputy assistant secretaries about the WHA meeting.

The government is also working on arranging bilateral meetings on the sidelines of this year’s WHA gathering with several top officials of other nations.

Among the names mentioned by Wu were US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, Japanese Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Katsunobu Kato and Canadian Minister of Health Ginette Petitpas Taylor.

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