The American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) yesterday launched a “countdown” series of Facebook posts to promote Taiwan’s bid to participate in the World Health Assembly (WHA), which is expected to meet virtually in the middle of this month.
The WHA, the WHO’s decisionmaking body, takes place in Geneva, Switzerland, every year, but Taiwan, which took part in the assembly as an observer from 2009 to 2016, has not been invited since President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) took office.
“The US firmly believes Taiwan has a role to play in global health and should be invited to observe the World Health Assembly later this month,” the AIT wrote on Facebook yesterday. “The inclusion of Taiwan in the #WHA would contribute to the goal of #HealthForAll and help Taiwan share the successful #TaiwanModel of COVID-19 prevention with the world.”
“Each day from now until the #WHA, we will be sharing posts supporting Taiwan’s participation in the WHA and greater participation on the global stage,” it wrote.
The WHO’s Executive Board on Thursday approved a plan to hold the assembly as a videoconference starting on May 18 and possibly ending the next day, although its Web site still shows the meeting is scheduled from May 17 to 21 in Geneva, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs official said yesterday on condition of anonymity.
The WHO secretariat would brief delegations of member states and release more details soon, the official said.
Separately, a report by Foreign Policy published on Wednesday said that the administration of US President Donald Trump is seeking to enlist the support of key allies to restore Taiwan’s status as an observer at the WHA, “setting the stage for a fresh confrontation with China as the world struggles to contain the coronavirus pandemic.”
The US and Japan are asking key like-minded countries, including Australia, the UK, France and Germany, to sign a letter to WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, asking him to invite a Taiwanese delegation to the WHA, the magazine reported.
Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) and US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar on Monday had a nearly 30-minute telephone conversation about the pandemic and Taiwan’s bid to join the WHO, the ministry said.
Taiwan, the US and Japan on Wednesday hosted a virtual workshop on counteracting disinformation campaigns related to the pandemic.
While Chen on Wednesday told lawmakers that Taiwan’s chances to speak at this year’s WHA might be less than 50 percent, Taiwanese are pushing the nation’s bid.
In a statement published on the International Democrat Union’s Web site on Thursday, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Johnny Chiang (江啟臣) highlighted the nation’s achievements in containing the pandemic with its high-quality public health system and experience dealing with the SARS outbreak in 2003.
While Chiang spent time criticizing the DPP administration’s relief policy, he said: “The zealous desire of the people of Taiwan to participate in and contribute to the WHO should be respected and supported by the authorities in Beijing and the rest of the world.”
Taiwan’s participation in the WHO can better realize the organization’s constitutional goal of promoting “the attainment by all peoples of the highest possible level of health,” Chiang wrote.
“Taiwan needs the WHO just as much as the WHO needs Taiwan to fight the [novel] coronavirus and future epidemics,” he wrote.
The Australian Office in Taipei yesterday on Facebook wrote its support for Taiwan to join the WHO and participate in the WHA as an observer, adding that the WHO should cooperate closely with all health authorities to combat the pandemic.
The number of people from Hong Kong applying for residency in Taiwan last year rose 41 percent from a year earlier to 5,858, National Immigration Agency statistics showed. The statistics also showed that 600 applications were filed by Hong Kong residents in the first quarter of this year — three times the number filed in the same period last year — with applicants apparently not deterred by the COVID-19 pandemic. Just one day after it was reported that the Chinese government plans to enact new national security laws in Hong Kong, inquiries regarding immigration to Taiwan grew 10-fold, a Hong Kong-based immigration
‘BEGINNING OF THE END’: Democracy advocate Joshua Wong urged Hong Kongers to stand up and fight, and let the Chinese government know that they will not cave Hong Kong protesters yesterday battled with riot police in busy downtown areas, showing their opposition toward China’s dramatic move to crack down on dissent in the biggest demonstration since the coronavirus swept through the territory in January. Police deployed a water cannon and fired tear gas in the Causeway Bay shopping area after hundreds of protesters had gathered to oppose new national security legislation from China. Police warned the crowd they were taking part in an illegal gathering, and later said in a statement that “rioters threw umbrellas, water bottles and other objects at them.” At least 120 people were arrested,
‘TAIWAN IS SAFE’: As there have been no new local cases for 42 days, people should feel free to travel around the nation — as long as they follow disease prevention rules No new cases of COVID-19 were reported yesterday and only 20 of the people hospitalized after testing positive are still being treated in hospitals, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said yesterday in Pingtung County’s Kenting (墾丁) as he promoted a “new disease prevention lifestyle” for the nation. As yesterday was the 42nd consecutive day with no new domestic cases, and experts consider 28 consecutive days with no domestic case — the span of two incubation periods — a sign that a community is relatively safe, Taiwan is safe, said Chen, who heads the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC),
SMOOTHER TRANSIT: Japan Airlines reportedly planned to land the flight at Haneda Airport, but changed it to Narita for direct flights to Taiwan The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday thanked Japan for allowing 94 Taiwanese on a chartered plane evacuating others stranded in Russia, where COVID-19 cases are rising and many international flights have been canceled. Ninety-four Taiwanese exchange students and expats, as well as two Russian spouses, arrived at Narita International Airport in Japan yesterday morning on a charter flight operated by Japan Airlines, before taking a transfer flight to Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport last night, ministry spokeswoman Joanne Ou (歐江安) said. As of press time last night, Russia had reported more than 362,000 cases of COVID-19, including more than 3,800 deaths. The government had