President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday thanked Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for their support of Taiwan’s bid to join the WHO as the number of confirmed 2019 novel coronavirus cases in the nation increased to nine.
“Particularly, I want to thank the US, Canada, Japan and other countries for publicly supporting Taiwan’s bid to join the WHO, as well as other international friends who have recently voiced support for Taiwan’s inclusion in the WHO,” Tsai said at the Presidential Office in Taipei as she reassured people about the government’s ability to prevent an epidemic.
“Taiwan is capable of and responsible for making contributions to the world. The WHO must not exclude Taiwan due to political factors,” she said.
Trudeau, after circumventing a question by Canadian Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer about Taiwan’s inclusion in the WHO in parliament on Tuesday, became assertive when answering the same question from lawmaker Michael Cooper on Wednesday.
“This is a question about Taiwan,” Cooper said, stressing Taiwan by spelling it out. “Does the government support the inclusion of Taiwan in international discussion about the virus? Again, Taiwan, yes or no?”
“Yes, Mr Speaker. As we did during the time of the SARS virus, we support Taiwan’s meaningful participation in international multilateral forums. Especially when its presence provides important contributions to the global public good. We believe that Taiwan’s role as an observer in World Health Assembly meetings is in the best interest of the international health community and it also is an important partner in the fight against this epidemic,” Trudeau said.
His remarks were greeted by applause.
It was the first time that a Canadian prime minister had publicly voiced support for Taiwan’s bid to join the WHO, following similar gestures by Canadian Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland and former Canadian minister of health Ginette Petitpas Taylor, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.
Separately yesterday, Abe told the Japanese parliament that Taiwan’s participation in the WHO is necessary to effectively combat the spread of the novel coronavirus, Kyodo news reported.
“It will be difficult to maintain health and prevent further infections in this region if [Taiwan] is excluded for political reasons,” Abe was cited as saying. “We will continue to make our country’s stance clear at the WHO.”
On Wednesday, Saint Lucian Prime Minister Allen Chastanet issued a statement calling on the WHO to include Taiwan.
“Given Taiwan’s proximity, its importance as a transport hub and its 23 million population, Saint Lucia urgently calls on the WHO ... to ensure that there is full involvement of the Taiwanese authorities in the international consultations, planning and decisionmaking to monitor, control and ultimately halt the further spread of the coronavirus,” the statement said.
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