Minister of Health and Welfare Lin Tzou-yien (林奏延) yesterday said the speech he delivered at the World Health Assembly (WHA) — which sparked controversy because it did not mention “Taiwan” — was “discussed as a team” and had an “adjusted impromptu section based on what happened at the assembly.”
Lin returned to Taiwan from Geneva, Switzerland, yesterday and visited President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and Premier Lin Chuan (林全) before speaking at a news conference at the Executive Yuan.
Lin Tzou-yien said Tsai considered the delegation to have completed its mission and she agreed that medical diplomacy is vital for the nation and would continue to be pushed by the ministry, the National Security Council and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Photo: Fang Pin-chao, Taipei Times
“No one should be left behind” was the crucial theme of the WHA this year, which “reflects the necessity of our participation. Taiwan must never be absent from the global medical system,” Tsai said.
Executive Yuan spokesperson Tung Chen-yuan (童振源) said the premier expressed approval for the minister’s accomplishments at the WHA and agreed to provide assistance to the health ministry’s plan to participate in upcoming WHO activities.
Lin Tzou-yien told the news conference that he upheld “the nation’s greatest interests” as the delegation’s strategic goal at the WHA.
“We had a total of 45 bilateral meetings with the delegations from other countries such as the US, Japan and EU members,” he said.
When asked whether the Presidential Office had previewed a draft of his speech, Lin Tzou-yien said the speech was drawn up “as a team” and was based on “the principles of professionalism and practicality, and the determination to make a contribution.”
He denied that national security agencies had “issued directives” concerning the content of the speech, adding that it had been drafted “together by those on the front lines and those in the rear offering support.”
Photo: Wang Yi-sung, Taipei Times
The reason that “Taiwan” was not mentioned in the speech was because “Chinese Taipei” is the name the nation is registered as with the WHA, Lin Tzou-yien said.
Asked whether it is the name to be used internationally from now on, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Leo Lee (李澄然) said that “Chinese Taipei” is used depending on how Taiwan has negotiated with international organizations.
“There are organizations with which we are registered as ‘Taiwan,’ but with the WHA, it is ‘Chinese Taipei,’ which is unsatisfactory, but acceptable,” Lee said.
“We have handed a protest letter to the WHO’s legal counsel, who agreed to transfer the letter to WHO Director-General Margaret Chan (陳馮富珍),” Lin Tzou-yien said. “In the letter we said that we do not accept any political framework and express our ‘stern protest’ over the fact that our invitation was delayed.”
“I know a lot of people are not pleased with the name we used and I empathize with their feelings of injustice, but that could motivate us to improve,” he said. “Our ability to make contributions to global health would provide us confidence and dignity when participating” in the WHA.
The minister said that Taiwan held four training workshops in the Asia-Pacific region in the past year, aiming to help neighboring countries bolster their defenses against the Ebola, Middle East respiratory syndrome, dengue and Zika viruses.
“In the WHA speech, I proposed to respond to the ‘global surgery’ initiative that has been launched and discussed globally in recent years by offering 50 of our surgeons whose expertise is internationally recognized to participate in the program,” Lin Tzou-yien said.
“A WHO advisory board, including specialists from academia, will also be established, as the participation is not a one-day matter, but for a whole year, and the counsel will be assisting in preparations for the meetings,” he added.
When asked about interactions with the Chinese delegation, he said there was no official meeting with China, but he had shaken hands with Chinese Minister of Health Li Bin (李斌) and proposed to “continue to cooperate with each other.”
The “concrete gains” from the WHA participation included that during bilateral talks with the US delegation, the two sides agreed that the US would send specialists in dengue vaccine, who have been focusing on vaccines for children and young people, to Taiwan next month to help with a clinical trial for elderly people, who in Taiwan are more susceptible to dengue fever.
Separately yesterday, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus obstructed legislative proceedings in the afternoon, demanding that Legislative Speaker Su Jia-chyuan (蘇嘉全) process the caucus’ proposed resolution on castigating the premier and the health minister over “wimpiness” in not using the name Taiwan in the speech.
The KMT also demanded that the officials apologize to the public.
Su called for a break and the KMT lawmakers announced the resolution on their own, before calling Su a “runaway speaker.”
Su returned about 30 minutes later and announced that the handling of the resolution was not be in line with legislative regulations.
The KMT called for a vote, but with only 29 KMT lawmakers in the general assembly chamber, the proposal was terminated as a quorum was not met.
Additional reporting by CNA
WHEELING AND DEALING? Hou You-yi, Ko Wen-je, Eric Chu and Ma Ying-jeou are under investigation for allegedly offering bribes for the other side to drop out of the race Taipei prosecutors have started an investigation into allegations that four top politicians involved in attempts to form a “blue-white” presidential ticket have contravened election regulations. Listed as defendants are Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate and New Taipei City Mayor Hou You-yi (侯友宜), KMT Chairman Eric Chu (朱立倫), former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) of the KMT and Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) Chairman and presidential candidate Ko Wen-je (柯文哲). The case stemmed from judicial complaints filed last month with the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office alleging that the KMT (blue) and the TPP (white) had engaged in bribery by offering money or other enticements
EXPOSED: Some Taipei wardens reported joining the trips out of peer pressure, while others said they were relieved it was made public so they could refuse, a city councilor said Nearly 30 percent of Taipei borough wardens have joined group tours to China that were partially funded by the Chinese government, leading prosecutors probing potential Chinese interference in January’s elections to question local officials, an investigation showed. Democratic Progressive Party Taipei City councilors Chien Shu-pei (簡舒培) and Chen E-jun (陳怡君) have reported cases of Taipei borough wardens inviting residents to join inexpensive privately organized group tours to China that were partially funded by the Chinese government. The six-day trips reportedly cost NT$10,000 to NT$15,000, the councilors said. An investigation by the Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister newspaper) showed that nearly 30 percent
ELIGIBLE FOR JANUARY: All presidential candidates and their running mates meet the requirements to run for office, and none hold dual citizenship, the CEC said Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) Legislator and vice presidential candidate Cynthia Wu (吳欣盈) is working with the Central Election Commission (CEC) to resolve issues with her financial disclosure statement, a spokesman for the candidate said yesterday, after the commission published the statements of all three presidential candidates and their running mates, while confirming their eligibility to run in the Jan. 13 election. Wu’s office spokesman, Chen Yu-cheng (陳宥丞), said the candidate encountered unforeseen difficulties disclosing her husband’s finances due to being suddenly thrust into the campaign. She is also the first vice presidential nominee to have a foreign spouse, complicating the reporting of
GOOD NEWS: Although open civic spaces are shrinking in Asia-Pacific countries and territories, Taiwan’s openness is a positive sign, an expert said Taiwan remains the only country in Asia with an “open” civic space for the fifth consecutive year, the Civicus Monitor said in a report released yesterday. The People Power Under Attack 2023 report named Taiwan as one of only 37 open countries or territories out of 198 globally, and the only one in Asia. Compiled by Civicus — a global alliance of civil society organizations dedicated to bolstering civil action — the ranking compiled annually since 2017 measures the state of freedom of association, peaceful assembly and expression around the world. Researchers assign each country or territory one of five rankings describing the