AIT head vows aid to continue

WORLD BODIES::Brent Christensen said that Beijing’s efforts to prevent the WHO from inviting Taiwan to the WHA in recent years showed its political interference

Staff writer, with CNA

Tue, Apr 16, 2019 - Page 3

The US would continue to do its part to help Taiwan expand its role on the world stage, American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Director Brent Christensen said yesterday, calling for more nations to join the effort, despite pressure from China.

“As the United States has stated many times, we support Taiwan’s full membership in international organizations that do not require statehood and in organizations that require statehood for membership, the United States still supports Taiwan’s meaningful participation,” Christensen said.

Christensen listed several organizations in which Taiwan should be able to participate, including the World Health Assembly (WHA), the decisionmaking body of the WHO; the International Criminal Police Organization; and the International Civil Aviation Organization.

Taiwan has much to offer the WHA, given the nation’s expertise in healthcare, which is why it was invited to the WHA meetings from 2009 to 2016, before its most recent change of government, he said.

“Then after free and fair elections, Taiwan was suddenly no longer welcome to attend,” Christensen said.

Beijing’s efforts to prevent the WHO from inviting Taipei to the WHA over the past two years demonstrated its political interference, Christensen said.

China’s efforts have also come to bear on Interpol and the ICAO, which have denied Taiwan access to their databases and latest information, he said.

Meanwhile, a member of the Canadian Parliament on Sunday voiced support for Taiwan’s participation at the WHA in Geneva, Switzerland.

“Taiwan’s meaningful participation in international organizations is imperative as an important regional & international world partner,” Judy Sgro, chair of the Canada Taiwan Parliamentary Friendship Group, wrote on Twitter.

Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland on Tuesday last week said that Canada continues to support Taiwan’s “participation in international multilateral fora, where its presence provides important contributions to the global public good.”

“We continue to have strong and growing people-to-people ties with Taiwan within Canada’s ‘one China’ policy,” Freeland said at the time in a meeting with the Canadian Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade.

“We are absolutely committed to expanding those ties based on our shared values,” Freeland said.

The WHA is to hold its 72nd session from May 20 to 28. Taiwan is seeking to attend as an observer, but has not yet received an invitation and is likely to be excluded for the third consecutive year due to China’s obstruction.

WHO spokesperson Christian Lindmeier last month said that Taiwan’s previous invitations to the WHA were issued on the basis of a “cross-strait understanding,” the Chinese-language Apple Daily has reported.

“If there is no cross-strait understanding this year, it is not expected that an invitation to the WHA will be issued,” the newspaper quoted Lindmeier as saying in an e-mailed response to questions about Taiwan’s WHA participation.