More countries irked by Chinese bullying at WHO

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Mon, Apr 08, 2019 - Page 3

More countries have expressed discontent over China’s obstruction of Taiwan’s participation at the annual World Health Assembly (WHA), the WHO’s highest decisionmaking body, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said yesterday.

Chen made the remark at a public walking event held by the Health Promotion Administration in Taipei’s Daan Forest Park (大安森林公園) to mark World Health Day and draw the international community’s attention to Taiwan’s determination to participate in the WHA.

Taiwan first participated in the WHA as an observer in 2009, after then-president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) assumed office and his administration adopted an appeasing attitude toward China.

However, the WHO has refused to send invitations to Taiwan in the past two years after President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) of the Democratic Progressive Party took office, due to Chinese pressure.

As the WHA is to be held in Geneva, Switzerland, late next month, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs last week said that the chances of being invited this year were low.

“The road to the WHA might be far and difficult, but if we all work together, we can definitely reach our goal,” Chen said yesterday. “The distance from Taiwan to Geneva is about 24 million steps and there are 2.3 million people in Taiwan, so we can reach there if we each take one step forward.”

Citing the WHO’s theme of “Universal Health Coverage: Everyone, Everywhere” for this year’s World Health Day, he said Taiwan has experience in universal health coverage, including its outstanding achievements in chronic disease prevention, nutrition programs, delaying disability and dementia, hospice care and patient autonomy, as well as the universal health coverage by the National Health Insurance program.

The nation also has good disease prevention, Chen said, citing the relatively low number of measles cases reported this year in comparison to neighboring countries.

Taiwan has many experiences it can share with the world if it attends the WHA, he added.

Eight countries, including Japan and the US, expressed their support for Taiwan to attend the WHA at the WHO Executive Board Meeting in January, and more countries have expressed their discontent over the WHO succumbing to Chinese pressure, he said.