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Taiwan to donate US$1 million to WHO to fight Ebola

2018/05/26 14:48:20

Taipei, May 26 (CNA) President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) announced on Saturday that Taiwan will donate US$1 million to the World Health Organization (WHO) to fight the Ebola virus, even though the country was excluded from the annual meeting of the World Health Assembly, the highest decision making body of the WHO.

Tsai said despite the exclusion from the WHA due to opposition from China, Taiwan is determined to continue its contribution to the world's health enhancement by donating the funds to combat Ebola, which first appeared in 1976 in Sudan and Congo.

Eloba, transmitted through direct contact with blood or other bodily fluids of infected people, has become one of the most virulent diseases in the world.

On behalf of Tsai, Presidential Office spokesman Alex Huang (黃重諺) told the press that Taiwan is a health enhancement power in the world so the country is willing to pledge such financial aid to fight Eloba's spread.

Huang said the donation showed Taiwan's willingness to take responsibility as a member of the international community.

Tsai made the announcement when she received a delegation led by Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), which just returned from Geneva where it solicited support from WHO members for Taiwan's participation in the WHA and touted Taiwan's role in disease prevention on the sidelines of the 71st WHA meeting.

Taiwan had been prevented from attending the meeting as an observer.

During the reception with the delegation, Tsai protested against Taiwan's exclusion from the WHA, saying that the WHO barred Taiwan from participating in its meeting just because of political reasons.

"Taiwan is a model in strengthening disease prevention in the world, but the WHO's decision is expected to create a loophole for the global efforts in combating diseases," Tsai said.

During the WHA's annual meeting, which was held from May 21-26, Taiwan's allies and other countries friendly to the island voiced their support for the country's presence in the meeting and related activities.

On May 16, a bipartisan group of 172 members of the U.S. House of Representatives sent a letter to WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, calling for Taiwan to be allowed to participate in the WHA.

Tsai said the international support for Taiwan's presence in the WHA showed the harder China suppresses Taiwan on the world stage, the more support Taiwan will secure from the international community.

"Not only our allies have voiced support for Taiwan, but also other countries without formal ties such as the United States have lent their support to Taiwan. Taiwan secured support from the largest number of countries in history (for participation in the WHA)," Tsai said.

During his trip to Geneva, Chen was awarded the title of "Diplomat of the Global Charter" by the World Federation of Public Health Associations (WFPHA). Tsai said the move made by the WFPHA showed Taiwan's contribution to global health enhancement has been well recognized in the international society.

"Taiwan is faced with rising challenges in international politics but such headwinds are expected to help people in the country unite further," Tsai said.

Taiwan had hoped to attend the WHA as an observer, as it did from 2009 to 2016, but did not receive an invitation from the WHO because of opposition from China. Tsai has refused to accept the "1992 consensus", which essentially implies Taiwan and mainland China are a part of one country.

Tsai said Taiwan will not bow to China's pressure, adding unification with China is not the only option for Taiwan's future and the country will not sacrifice its dignity in exchange for participating in the WHA.

Commenting on Taiwan's donation, Chen said it has nothing to do with checkbook diplomacy but is all about helping humanity.

On her Facebook page, Tsai said the fund Taiwan will donate to fight Ebola had been previously assigned for cooperation between Taiwan and Burkina Faso, which severed its relations with Taiwan on Thursday.

The donation, Tsai said, was an example that Taiwan remains active in participating in the international community despite China's obstruction.

(By Yeh Su-ping and Frances Huang)
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