Five diplomatic allies prod WHO to review Taiwan's status

05/06/2020 10:34 PM
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CNA file photo
CNA file photo

Brussels/London, May 6 (CNA) Five of Taiwan's diplomatic allies have put forth a proposal for the issue of Taiwan's exclusion from the World Health Organization (WHO) to be put on the agenda for discussion by its decision-making body later this month.

The proposal was made in letters sent separately between April 21 and May 5 to WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus by the governments of Nicaragua, Palau, Eswatini, Saint Lucia and the Marshall Islands.

In the letters, the five nations, all diplomatic allies of Taiwan, said the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the urgency and importance of leaving out no one from the global health network.

The continued exclusion of Taiwan from the WHO undermines the interests of its members and endangers global health, the allies said.

They also pointed out that Taiwan's "exceptional response" to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has been "lauded by the international community" and said Taiwan's experience and expertise could be valuable to numerous countries.

The five countries urged the WHO to grant Taiwan full access to all of its meetings, mechanisms, and activities and to invite Taiwan to participate in its decision-making body, the World Health Assembly (WHA), as an observer.

The issue of Taiwan's status in the WHA should be put on its agenda for discussion when the body convenes later this month, the five countries said.

It was the latest push for the WHO to restore Taiwan's status as an observer, which has been in limbo since 2017.

In late April, a United States-based magazine reported that the U.S. and Japan were asking Australia, the United Kingdom, France, Germany and other countries to co-sign a letter, requesting that the WHO restore Taiwan's observer status.

Citing diplomatic sources and notes from WHO internal meetings, Foreign Policy magazine said there was "considerable support in Washington and other foreign capitals" for Taiwan to participate in WHO discussions.

The WHA is scheduled to hold its 73rd session from May 18 to 19, but it will be a virtual meeting due to travel restrictions amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the WHO.

From 2009 to 2016, Taiwan participated in the WHA as an observer under the name Chinese Taipei, 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-strait relations since President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) of the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party took office in May 2016.

(By Tang Pei-chun, Tai Ya-chen and Chiang Yi-ching)

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