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U.S. voices strong support for Taiwan's WHA participation

2017/05/10 15:12:54

CNA file photo

Washington, May 9 (CNA) The United States Department of State on Tuesday voiced its strong support for Taiwan's participation in the annual World Health Assembly (WHA) as an observer, after Taipei was excluded from this year's WHA session.

"The United States recognizes Taiwan's continued leadership on global health issues and continues to strongly support Taiwan's participation as an observer at the World Health Assembly," said East Asia Pacific Affairs Bureau spokesperson Grace Choi.

Choi was answering questions about Taiwan's setback in seeking to attend the 2017 WHA, which will be held in Geneva on May 22-31. Taiwan did not receive an invitation from the World Health Organization (WHO) by the May 8 deadline for online registration because of Chinese obstruction.

The WHA is the WHO's decision-making body.

Even though it has not been invited, Taipei has said it still plans to send a delegation to Geneva for the duration of the 10-day global health session.

Asked if the U.S. will meet the Taiwanese delegation on the sidelines of the meeting and if there is cooperation or communication between the U.S. and Taiwan through which the two can share information or data on global health, Choi declined to comment.

However, she did point out that the United States has welcomed Taiwan's participation as an observer at the past eight WHA meetings.

Reiterating Washington's stance, Choi said the U.S. government encourages the authorities in Beijing and Taipei to engage in constructive dialogue, on the basis of dignity and respect.

"We continue to urge patience, flexibility, and creativity on both sides," she said.

In Geneva, WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier has said the matter of Taiwan's participation is not yet resolved although invitations had already been sent.

"Officially the deadline has passed but yet it is my understanding that the discussions are still ongoing and we are also on our side waiting for any developments."

An AFP report indicated Lindmeier's remarks left some room for Taiwan to attend the meeting.

Taiwan attended WHA meetings as an observer from 2009 to 2016, under the name Chinese Taipei.

The exclusion of Taiwan from the 2017 session is widely seen as the latest move by China to clamp down on Taiwan's international participation, a strategy that has become more aggressive since Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) of the Democratic Progress Party, which is less conciliatory toward Beijing, took power in May 2016.

(By Rita Cheng and Elizabeth Hsu)