Taipei, April 18 (CNA) Vice President Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁) on Wednesday asked a visiting delegation of Belgian parliamentarians to support Taiwan's efforts to participate in the World Health Assembly (WHA), saying that Taiwan's exclusion will create a loophole in global epidemic prevention.
While receiving the delegation, Chen said health care is a basic universal right, and Taiwan's exclusion from the WHA, the decision making body of the World Health Organization, would be an infringement of the Taiwanese people's rights.
Such a situation would lead to a loophole in the prevention of global epidemics, he told the visiting parliamentarians.
Chen said globalization means the world is interdependent and must work cohesively to deal with global issues.
Taiwan is an indispensable member of the international community on important issues such as health care, climate change, humanitarian assistance, counter-terrorism, and combating cross-border crime, he said.
Taiwan's voice, therefore, must be heard, especially in the field of health care, Chen said, asking for the Belgian government's support to Taiwan's effort to participate in the WHA.
During the meeting, Chen also thanked the Belgium government for its past support to Taiwan in numerous areas, including trade.
He said the European Union is Taiwan's fifth largest trading partner worldwide, while Belgium is Taiwan's sixth biggest trading partner in the EU.
Taiwan first attended the WHA as an observer in 2009, a year after the government of former President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) came to power and pursued a more conciliatory policy toward China.
Taiwan had taken part in every WHA meeting since then, until last year when it failed to receive an invitation.
Its exclusion was widely seen as a move by China to clamp down on Taiwan's international participation, a strategy that has become more aggressive since President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) of the Democratic Progressive Party, who is less conciliatory toward China, came to power in May 2016.
This year's WHA will be held May 21-26 in Geneva, Switzerland.