US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo on Monday condemned Taiwan’s exclusion from the World Health Assembly (WHA), while President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday lodged a strong protest against the WHO for not inviting Taiwan.
Twenty-two nations voiced support for Taiwan’s bid for participation on the first day of the assembly’s two-day virtual meeting, but despite the global community’s unprecedentedly strong support for Taiwan, it remained blocked from the assembly, with WHO member states on Monday agreeing to delay discussion on Taiwan until later this year.
Pompeo, who on May 6 urged WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus to invite Taiwan to the WHA, condemned the WHO for excluding Taiwan under pressure from Beijing.
Photo: David Chang, EPA-EFE
“No one disputes that Taiwan has mounted one of the world’s most successful efforts to contain the pandemic to date... This should not be a surprise. Transparent, vibrant, and innovative democracies like Taiwan always respond faster and more effectively to pandemics than do authoritarian regimes,” he said in a statement.
“WHO’s Director-General Tedros had every legal power and precedent to include Taiwan in WHA’s proceedings. Yet, he instead chose not to invite Taiwan under pressure from the People’s Republic of China [PRC],” Pompeo said. “The director-general’s lack of independence deprives the assembly of Taiwan’s renowned scientific expertise on pandemic disease, and further damages the WHO’s credibility and effectiveness at a time when the world needs it the most.”
“The PRC’s spiteful action to silence Taiwan exposes the emptiness of its claims to want transparency and international cooperation to fight the pandemic, and makes the difference between China and Taiwan ever more stark,” Pompeo said.
Tsai yesterday said that she wanted to lodge a strong protest, because it was regrettable that the WHO Secretariat succumbed to political pressure and once again refused to invite Taiwan to attend this year’s WHA.
“Political factors should not be put above the human right to health,” she said.
Taiwan is very willing to share its disease prevention experience with the world, so excluding Taiwan from the WHA is against global common interests, she said.
“The WHO Secretariat might have succumbed to political pressure, but Taiwan will not give up on participating in international affairs just because it is being suppressed,” Tsai said. “We will continue to make efforts for the world to see Taiwan.”
Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Joanne Ou (歐江安) yesterday told a news briefing in Taipei that China should explain where the novel coronavirus originated and allow foreign experts to investigate the route of virus transmission.
That would be more meaningful than just donating money, she said, referring to Chinese President Xi Jinping’s (習近平) pledge during his address to the WHA on Monday to provide US$2 billion over two years to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic fallout.
That Tedros invited Xi to give a speech at the opening of the assembly demonstrated their close relationship, Ou said.
Delegates from 12 of Taiwan’s diplomatic allies, as well as the US and Japan, voiced support for Taiwan on Monday, even though they only had two minutes each to speak, she said.
Delegates from the UK, France, Australia, Canada, Germany, New Zealand and the Czech Republic emphasized the “inclusiveness” of all stakeholders, which echoed Taiwan’s appeals, while the Sovereign Military Order of Malta said in a statement that many countries, including Taiwan, had helped it contain the disease, Ou said.
Taiwan’s diplomatic allies have tendered proposals backing its participation in the WHA, which might be discussed when the WHO resumes its session later this year, tentatively scheduled for October or November, she added.
Additional reporting by Lee I-chia
The US Department of State yesterday criticized Beijing over its misrepresentation of the US’ “one China” policy in the latest diplomatic salvo between the two countries over a bid by Taiwan to regain its observer status at the World Health Assembly, the decisionmaking body of the WHO. “The PRC [People’s Republic of China] continues to publicly misrepresent U.S. policy,” Department of State spokesman Ned Price wrote on Twitter. “The United States does not subscribe to the PRC’s ‘one China principle’ — we remain committed to our longstanding, bipartisan one China policy, guided by the Taiwan Relations Act, Three Joint Communiques, and
FATES LINKED: The US president said that sanctions on Russia over Ukraine must exact a ‘long-term price,’ because otherwise ‘what signal does that send to China?’ US President Joe Biden yesterday vowed that US forces would defend Taiwan militarily in the event of a Chinese attack in his strongest statement to date on the issue. Beijing is already “flirting with danger,” Biden said following talks with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Tokyo, in which the pair agreed to monitor Chinese naval activity and joint Chinese-Russian exercises. Asked if Washington was willing to get involved militarily to defend Taiwan, he replied: “Yes.” “That’s the commitment we made,” Biden said. “We agreed with the ‘one China’ policy, we signed on to it ... but the idea that it can be
‘TOO RESTRICTIVE’: Ending US sales of weapons that do not fall under the category of ‘asymmetric’ would hamper Taiwan’s defense against China, two business groups said Taiwan’s weapons procurement decisions are made based on its needs, and are not influenced by individual arms dealers, the Ministry of National Defense (MND) said yesterday after two US business groups questioned a US official’s comment on arms sales to Taiwan. US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Regional Security Mira Resnick told the business groups via video link on Saturday that Washington would adjust the types of weapons sold to Taiwan and end “most arms sales to Taiwan that do not fall under the category of ‘asymmetric.’” The American Chamber of Commerce in Taiwan and the US-Taiwan Business Council on Monday
Local COVID-19 cases are expected to continue rising in the upcoming week, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday, as it reported a record-high 85,310 new domestic cases and 41 deaths. Daily case numbers had remained in the 60,000s for the past six days before surging about 30 percent yesterday, said Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Deputy Director-General Philip Lo (羅一鈞), deputy head of the CECC’s medical response division, said the number of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests conducted on Tuesday also marked a record-high of 112,915, with a