US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Friday urged the WHO to invite Taiwan to participate in the World Health Assembly (WHA) as an observer, saying that China’s objections are to blame for Taiwan’s exclusion from the organization.
Blinken’s remarks came after the French Senate on Thursday passed a resolution 304-0 backing Taiwan’s participation in international organizations, including the WHO, and after the G7 foreign ministers backed Taiwan’s WHA bid in a joint communique on Wednesday.
The 74th WHA is to take place virtually from May 24 to June 1. Taiwan participated as an observer from 2009 to 2016, but has since been denied entry.
“Unless the organization’s leadership takes appropriate action, the assembly will once again exclude the vital participation of Taiwan,” Blinken said.
“There is no reasonable justification for Taiwan’s continued exclusion from this forum, and the United States calls upon the WHO director-general to invite Taiwan to participate as an observer at the WHA — as it has in previous years, prior to objections registered by the government of the People’s Republic of China,” he said.
“WHO leadership and all responsible nations should recognize that excluding the interests of 24 million people at the WHA serves only to imperil, not advance, our shared global health objectives,” he added.
“Taiwan is a reliable partner, a vibrant democracy and a force for good in the world, and its exclusion from the WHA would be detrimental to our collective international efforts to get the pandemic under control and prevent future health crises,” he said.
“We urge Taiwan’s immediate invitation to the World Health Assembly,” Blinken said.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday thanked Blinken for repeatedly voicing support for Taiwan’s participation in the WHA.
The US has never ceased in its support for Taiwan’s WHA bid, with its support stronger this year than ever, the ministry said in a statement, adding that Washington has been a bellwether in leading other countries to voice support for Taiwan.
The nation welcomes more countries to work with Taiwan to “go beyond politics” and protect universal health, it said.
Taiwan has been striving to join international organizations related to healthcare and medicine, but encountered irrational obstacles and pressure from China, Executive Yuan spokesman Lo Ping-cheng (羅秉成) said separately.
The nation thanks the US, France and other major powers for supporting it and affirming its achievements in healthcare, Lo said, adding that it would continue to deepen relations with like-minded countries.
Separately, the leaders of Taiwan’s three Caribbean allies also urged the WHO to allow Taiwan’s participation in the WHA. They made the calls through pre-recorded videos provided by their embassies in Taiwan.
“It makes absolutely no sense to exclude Taiwan” from the WHA, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Ralph E. Gonsalves said, adding that excluding the nation would “limit the effectiveness of that assembly and the operations of the World Health Organization.”
“Leave the politics out, this is about health,” he said.
Saint Kitts and Nevis Minister of Foreign Affairs Mark Brantley said that Taiwan should be included in the WHA so that it can play a role in international affairs.
“Taiwan has demonstrated throughout this COVID-19 pandemic that it is a global leader,” Brantley said, adding that Taiwan has “set global standards in handling this pandemic.”
“Taiwan has proved itself to be a successful model in the global fight against the pandemic, not just by successful management of the spread, but also by helping other countries, including my country Saint Lucia, to combat the outbreak,” Saint Lucia Minister of Health Mary Isaac said, adding that it is time to “let Taiwan help.”
Additional reporting by Lee Hsin-fang and CNA
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