Taiwan thanks U.K. parliamentarians for support on WHO issue

03/04/2020 09:27 PM
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Lord Rogan, left, and Martin Vickers (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)
Lord Rogan, left, and Martin Vickers (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Taipei, March 4 (CNA) The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) on Wednesday expressed gratitude to a group of 55 United Kingdom parliamentarians, who recently sent a joint letter to the World Health Organization (WHO) expressing concern over its decision to label Taiwan as part of China.

The letter, issued on Feb. 28 and addressed to WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, was initiated by Lord Rogan and Martin Vickers, co-chairs of British-Taiwanese All-Party Parliamentary Group, MOFA said in a press release.

The letter says Taiwan is not under China's jurisdiction and that healthcare in Taiwan and China are administered by separate and independent authorities.

It calls on the WHO to immediately correct its mislabeling of Taiwan as part of China's COVID-19 coronavirus epidemic area and to allow Taiwan's participation in WHO meetings to aid the ongoing global fight against the spread of the epidemic, according to MOFA.

The ministry said Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, the U.K.'s Minister of State for the Commonwealth and the United Nations, also recently expressed concern over the WHO issue.

The U.K. has spoken "at the highest levels" of the WHO about the importance of having accurate data on Taiwan, Lord Ahmad said Feb. 26 in a written response to a question raised by another member of parliament, Lord Blencathra, on whether the U.K. has expressed concern over the WHO's decision to place Taiwan in China's COVID-19 epidemic area.

"It is crucial that there is an accurate picture of how the virus is spreading globally," Lord Ahmad said, adding that Public Health England reports cases in mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan separately.

MOFA expressed gratitude for the parliamentarians' support for Taiwan on the matter, saying it will continue to work closely with the U.K. and other like-minded countries to push for Taiwan's inclusion in the annual World Health Assembly (WHA), the decision-making body of the WHO, in May.

MOFA also said that Public Health England has been working with other countries to advocate for Taiwan's participation in this year's WHA.

Between 2009 and 2016, Taiwan participated in the WHA as an observer under the name Chinese Taipei, with the help of the U.S. and amid better relations with China during the then-Kuomintang administration.

Since 2017, however, China has persuaded the WHO not to invite Taiwan, in line with Beijing's hardline stance on cross-Taiwan Strait relations since President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) of the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party took office in May 2016.

However, support for Taiwan's participation in the WHO has gained traction in the international community recently due to the global spread of the COVID-19, with a number of world powers, including the U.K., the U.S., Japan and the European Union, calling over the past few weeks for Taiwan's inclusion in the WHA.

(By Chen Yun-yu and Joseph Yeh)

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