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Taiwan still seeking invitation to WHA: Foreign Ministry

2017/04/20 16:12:13

Taipei, April 20 (CNA) Taiwan is still making every effort to obtain an invitation to the annual World Health Assembly (WHA) session in May, despite the challenges to its WHA bid, a foreign affairs official said Thursday.

The WHA, the decision-making body of the World Health Organization (WHO), is scheduled to hold its latest session in Geneva from May 22 to May 31.

The secretariat of the WHO has not yet decided whether to issue a WHA invitation to Taiwan, but the ministry will continue its effort to express its intention to attend, said Wang Liang-yu (王良玉), deputy director-general of the ministry's Department of International Organizations, at a regular news briefing.

Although there are some challenges, the ministry will do its utmost to seek an invitation, she said.

The deadline for the online registration for this year's WHA session is May 8 and Taiwan hopes to receive an invitation by then, Wang said.

She added that Taiwan has response measures in place, whether it receives an invitation or not.

Also on Thursday, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said that he will lead a delegation to the venue of the WHA session to express Taiwan's stance and promote the country's contribution to international health, even if Taiwan is not invited to the meeting.

Wang confirmed that such a move is in the works.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister David Lee (李大維) admitted that the situation is not optimistic for Taiwan's WHA bid, but the ministry is still trying hard to push for the bid. He also noted that many of Taiwan's diplomatic allies have been helping in this regard.

Over the previous eight years, Taiwan has been invited to attend the WHA as an observer.

When the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) replaced the China-friendly Kuomintang to take the reins of the government in May 2016, Taiwan received a late invitation to attend the WHA that year.

However, the invitation contained an unexpected reference to United Nations Resolution No. 2758, passed on Oct. 25, 1971, which recognizes the People's Republic of China as "the only legitimate representative of China to the United Nations" and expelled the representatives of the Republic of China.

Amid the strained cross-Taiwan Strait ties, there have been concerns that Beijing might try to block the WHO's invitation to Taiwan this year.

Cross-strait relations have cooled since the DPP's Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) took office as president in May 2016, 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 KMT government, that there is only one China, with both sides free to interpret what that means.

(By Scarlett Chai and Elaine Hou)
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