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Canada backs Taiwan's bid to attend WHA

2017/05/04 20:19:22

(CNA file photo)

Toronto, May 3 (CNA) Canada has voiced its support for Taiwan's participation in the upcoming session of the World Health Assembly (WHA), saying that to exclude Taiwan from the event would create "counter-productive" results for the international health system.

In response to questions by Canadian Senator Thanh Hai Ngo about Taiwan's participation in the WHA on Tuesday, Peter Harder -- the government's representative in the Senate -- said that Canada has been supportive of Taiwan's participation in international organizations on global health and other areas.

The next session of the WHA, the decision-making body of the World Health Organization (WHO), is scheduled for May 22-31 in Geneva, but Taiwan has yet to receive an invitation from the WHO's Secretariat.

Canada has noticed that Taiwan has attended the WHA as an observer for the past eight years, Harder said, adding that it is the position of the Canadian government that Taiwan's participation is in the interest of global health.

Excluding Taiwan from the WHO would create counter-productive results and create a critical gap in global health systems in the event of an outbreak of a highly contagious epidemic around the world or in a region, he said.

There have been concerns that Beijing might try to block Taiwan's invitation to the WHA this year, in light of strained cross-strait relations since President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) took office in May 2016.

Cross-Taiwan Strait relations have cooled since Tsai took office, mainly due to her refusal to heed Beijing's calls to recognize the "1992 consensus" as the sole political foundation for cross-strait exchanges.

The "1992 consensus" refers to a tacit understanding reached in 1992 between China and Taiwan, which was then under a Kuomintang government, that there is only one China, with both sides free to interpret what that means.

Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has said that it is still looking to obtain an invitation to the WHA, although the situation is not optimistic.

Even if it does not receive an invitation to the meeting, Taiwan will still send a delegation to Geneva for the WHA event, Health and Welfare Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) has said.

(By Hu Yu-li and Elaine Hou)