The government has expressed its “deep displeasure” at not receiving an invitation to this year’s World Health Assembly (WHA) and being excluded from the decisionmaking body of the WHO for a fifth consecutive year.
In a joint letter of protest issued yesterday by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Health and Welfare, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said that this year’s WHA is focused on the response to COVID-19, and building a healthier, safer and fairer world together.
“The recent escalation of the pandemic in Taiwan further shows that viruses know no borders. Taiwan cannot remain on the sidelines, and there should not be a gap in global disease prevention,” Chen said in the letter, which was also signed by Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮).
Not receiving an invitation to this year’s virtual WHA “is not only a loss for Taiwan, but also the rest of the world,” as the world needs all parties involved to share available information and expertise in the collective fight against disease.
Wu expressed regret over the WHO Secretariat’s “continued indifference to the health rights of Taiwan’s 23.5 million people.”
He also reiterated the government’s stance on China’s false claim that “appropriate arrangements have been made for Taiwan’s participation in the WHO.”
“The People’s Republic of China has never governed Taiwan, yet it continues to make distorted interpretations of UN General Assembly Resolution 2758 and World Health Assembly Resolution 25.1, repeatedly misleading the international community,” Wu said.
Only Taiwan’s elected government can represent Taiwanese at the WHO, Wu said, urging the WHO to maintain “a professional and neutral stance, reject China’s political interference, and allow Taiwan to join WHO meetings, mechanisms, and activities.”
He also expressed gratitude for international support for Taiwan’s bid to be invited to the WHA as an observer, saying that the years-long effort has gained momentum.
For instance, foreign ministers from the G7 for the first time ever on May 5 issued a joint statement backing Taiwan’s bid to participate in the WHA, Wu said.
Despite the setback, Wu said Taiwan would continue to seek international support for its WHA bid “so that Taiwan can contribute its expertise and join in global endeavors to promote the health and safety of humankind.”
Meanwhile, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) said in a statement yesterday it regrets that Taiwan did not receive an invitation to attend the WHA as an observer for the fifth consecutive year.
“The KMT urges the WHO and the international community to make global health governance the top priority and re-examine our nation’s request,” the KMT said.
“Especially at this critical moment when the world is working together to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, our absence from the WHA will have a negative impact on the health and safety of the 23.5 million Taiwanese, the effectiveness of global pandemic prevention and even the positive interaction between the two sides [of the Taiwan Strait],” it said.
The 74th edition of the WHA is being held virtually from yesterday to Tuesday next week.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday also protested to the WHO’s Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness after it twice identified Taiwan as “Taiwan, China” in a report presenting its findings and recommendations for action to curb the COVID-19 pandemic, and to ensure that any future infectious disease outbreak does not become another catastrophic pandemic.
Additional reporting by Sherry Hsiao
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