Taiwan’s bid to attend the WHO’s annual meeting of its decisionmaking body was rejected yesterday, the World Health Assembly (WHA) said, after a campaign of diplomatic pressure from China to isolate the nation.
WHA President Ahmed Robleh Abdilleh, who is also Djibouti’s health minister, said in a statement that a proposal sent by 13 WHO members seeking for Taiwan to join as an observer would not be included in its official agenda.
Taiwan is excluded from most global groups due to Beijing’s objections.
Photo: Lu Yi-hsuan, Taipei Times, from a World Health Organization livestream
Taiwan says that its exclusion from the WHO has hampered efforts to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, although it is allowed to attend some technical WHO meetings.
Abdilleh said that the decision followed a recommendation from the general committee, which discussed the proposal on Sunday in a closed-door meeting.
“The political and legal foundation for Taiwan’s participation in WHA ceases to exist,” Chinese Ambassador to the UN Office at Geneva Chen Xu (陳旭) told the assembly shortly before the decision. “This political manipulation will only be met with opposition from all parties.”
However, the UK and the US showed their support for Taiwan.
US Department of Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary for Global Affairs Loyce Pace, who is the US envoy to the assembly, said Taiwan has been a critical partner contributing constructively to global health and that the US “deeply regrets” its exclusion from attending the assembly as an observer.
“There’s clearly no health crisis to justify not including Taiwan as an observer of the WHO,” British Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Sajid Javid told the assembly.
This year’s assembly, attended by thousands of delegates, including nearly 100 from China, is to discuss key reforms such as changes to the WHO’s funding.
China began blocking Taiwan’s WHA participation from 2017, ending a warmer period of relations between Beijing and Taipei.
Taiwan last week expressed “dissatisfaction and regret” over the WHO’s failure to invite it to attend the assembly, amid diplomatic pressure from China to isolate the nation.
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