U.S. concerned about Taiwan's exclusion from WHA: American official

03/15/2019 02:09 PM
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Image taken from Pixabay
Image taken from Pixabay

Washington, March 14 (CNA) A State Department official said Thursday in Washington that China's efforts to exclude Taiwan from the World Health Assembly (WHA) were harmful to cross-Taiwan Strait relations.

James Heller, director of the U.S. State Department's Office of Taiwan Coordination, said at a seminar hosted by the Project 2049 Institute and the Global Taiwan Institute that such efforts by China also ran counter to its goal of winning the support of the Taiwan people.

With the WHA set to hold its annual assembly in Geneva on May 20, Heller noted that Taiwan was not invited last year due to pressure from China and he reiterated the U.S.' firm support for Taiwan's participation in world bodies.

"The United States will continue to support Taiwan's membership in international organizations where statehood is not a requirement for membership, and its meaningful participation in international organizations where statehood is a requirement," he said.

In the area of public health, Heller said, it is in everyone's interest for Taiwan to play a role in addressing global challenges.

"That is why we will continue to support Taiwan's meaningful participation in the upcoming WHA," Heller said.

The World Health Organization's decision last year to again deny Taiwan an invitation to participate in the WHA as an observer was "deeply troubling," he said.

"This and another attempts by China to exclude Taiwan from international organizations, prevents the international community from benefiting from Taiwan's expertise, harms cross-strait relations and runs counter to Beijing's own professed goal of winning the support of the people of Taiwan," Heller said.

He said the U.S. will continue to look for other ways for Taiwan to win the dignity and respect that its contributions to global challenges merit.

In a recorded video address to the participants at the seminar, Taiwan's Legislative Speaker Su Jia-chyuan (蘇嘉全) thanked the U.S. for helping Taiwan to effectively deter the threat from China.

The U.S.' Taiwan Relations Act has remained intact over the past 40 years through several changes of government, which showed that long-lasting peace could only be achieved through laws enacted with public consent in a stable democratic system, Su said.

He said China's saber-rattling will jeopardize peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region and he urged the U.S. to maintain its support for Taiwan.

The participants at the seminar included Cory Gardner, chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asia, and retired Air Force General David Stilwell, who was nominated last year by U.S. President Donald Trump to fill the post of Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs.

(By Rita Cheng and Flor Wang)


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