Taiwan's WHO bid received a boost yesterday as the US and Japan both voiced support for Taiwan's participation in the international health organization. \nThe Secretary of US Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson expressed support for Taiwan's efforts to gain observer status to the World Health Assembly (WHA), saying the US would not shrink from taking a public stance on the controversial issue. \n"America's work for a healthy world also cuts across political lines. That is why my government supports Taiwan's efforts to gain observership status to the World Health Assembly," Thompson said during a luncheon talk under the invitation of the World Medical Association (WMA). \n"We know that this is a controversial issue, but we do not shrink from taking a public stance on it," said Thompson in front of a roomful of medical professionals as well as health ministers from various countries at the Intercontinental Hotel in Geneva. \n"The people of Taiwan, like everybody else, deserve the same level of public health of citizens of every nation on earth, and we support them in their efforts in achieving it," Thompson added. \nThe meeting took place concurrently with the week-long annual meeting of the WHA, the WHO's highest decision-making body. \nDepartment of Health Head Lee Ming-liang (李明亮) said Thomp-son's statement is a constructive step toward Taiwan's bid despite the fact that the WHA on Monday decided not to include Taiwan's application on the assembly agenda's for a sixth year in a row. \n"His statement this year here in Geneva is much better than what he said here last year. Last year he only said he supported Taiwan `playing a role' in WHO activities during a question-and-answer session in a local press club in Geneva," Lee said. \n"This year he spelled out his government's stance on supporting Taiwan to gain observer status here in Geneva," Lee said. \nVice Minister of Foreign Affairs Michael Kao (高英茂) said that Taiwan had hoped that Washington would inform Taipei in advance of Thompson's talk, but the US State Department has apparently taken a rather cautious move by instructing the US delegation not to do so. \nLee said the US had told Taiwan to take a gradual approach to the country's WHO bid because the US concluded that it was not conceivable for Taiwan to gain enough votes from WHO member countries to support its bid. \nTaiwan has hoped that Thompson would express US support for Taipei's bid during one of the WHA meetings in Geneva, such as the US health minister's formal address during the general discussion of the WHA meeting yesterday. \nBut as of press time yesterday, Thompson had not done so. \nMeanwhile, J. B. Brunet, a high-ranking French official, told Kao that France's statement during the WHA steering committee's closed-door meeting on Taiwan's case on Monday adhered to the European nation's "one China" policy. \nMeanwhile, Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda reportedly expressed Japan's support for Taiwan's bid. \nFukuda said at a press conference held after a routine Cabinet meeting that since Taiwan is geographically close to Japan, the Japanese government is interested in any efforts that would help raise Taiwan's standard of health care.
TAIPEI REACTIONS: Joanne Ou decried China’s ‘gangster diplomacy,’ while MOFA said its Fiji counterpart dealt fairly with the incident and protected the trade office’s rights The world should denounce the actions of Chinese embassy staffers in Fiji against a Taiwanese diplomat during a National Day celebration in Suva, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said yesterday as it thanked the Fijian government for its help after the Oct. 8 incident. Two Chinese diplomats tried to force their way into a celebration held by the Taipei Trade Office in Fiji at the Grand Pacific Hotel in Suva on Oct. 8, and a Taiwanese diplomat who tried to stop them taking photographs suffered a head injury. MOFA spokeswoman Joanne Ou (歐江安) told a news briefing that the ministry
The US, Japan and Australia conducted trilateral naval exercises in the South China Sea on Monday, the US Seventh Fleet announced yesterday. It was their fifth joint operations this year in the fleet’s area of operations, it said in a statement. The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain joined the JS Kirisame of the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force and the Royal Australian Navy’s HMAS Arunta. The Arunta’s commanding officer, Commander Troy Duggan, said that Australia was continuing to build on its already close relationship with Japan and the US. “This activity is a valuable and important opportunity for all three nations,”
ONGOING PROBE: A former Military Intelligence Bureau colonel, major general and another colonel, as well as five other people, have been questioned by prosecutors The Taipei District Court yesterday ordered that a retired colonel from the Military Intelligence Bureau (MIB) calling himself Taiwan’s “first special agent” be detained and held incommunicado as part of an ongoing investigation into espionage allegations targeting at least three former bureau officials. The Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office was seeking to detain former MIB colonel Chang Chao-jan (張超然) over his alleged involvement in introducing retired agents to Chinese national security authorities and passing confidential documents to China. Chang’s actions, if proven, would contravene the National Security Act (國家安全法), which carries a prison term of three to 10 years, and the National Intelligence
Seabed waste off the west coast is 1.5 times higher than the global average, with the mouth of the Tamsui River (淡水河) nearly 90 times dirtier, the environmental consultancy IndigoWaters (澄洋環境顧問) said yesterday. The firm in September last year began collaborating with local oceanographers on Taiwan’s first survey of seabed waste off the west coast, collecting 6,000 samples from near the mouths of eight rivers and conducting 215 inspections. Of the samples, 83.3 percent were found to contain trash, the group said. Based on the survey, every square kilometer of seabed had about 121,074 pieces of trash weighing 102kg, IndigoWaters chief executive Yen