Taiwan's exclusion from WHO shows agency's deficiencies: Pompeo

07/10/2020 01:40 PM
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CNA file photo
CNA file photo

Washington, July 9 (CNA) The exclusion of Taiwan from the World Health Organization (WHO) is the evidence of the WHO's deficiencies, U.S. State Secretary Mike Pompeo said Thursday.

In an online news briefing at the Foreign Press Center in Washington, Pompeo said the WHO has repeatedly shown its deficiencies by failing to fulfill its fundamental missions.

One of those deficiencies is Taiwan's exclusion as an observer in the WHO's decision-making body, the World Health Assembly (WHA), he said, in response to a question by CNA on the issue.

"We tried to do the simple thing, to get Taiwan to be able to participate as an observer, and the Chinese Communist Party influence prevented that from happening," he said. "I think that's very telling."

He said the WHO has failed in its basic mission to prevent pandemics, and continues to do so with regard to COVID-19.

The WHO still has not been able to get China to help identify patient zero in the COVID-19 pandemic or to explain why internal travel in China was closed down, while the virus was allowed to spread around the world, Pompeo said.

"The WHO has a responsibility to get to the bottom of it, and the WHO then has a responsibility too to hold accountable nations that don't comply with the WHO's own internal regulations, and the Chinese clearly did not do that in this case," he said.

For its part, the United States also has a responsibility, as it spends almost US$5 billion a year on global pandemics, Pompeo said.

"We need to find an institution and the capacity and a way to deliver...on those global health and global security needs, and the WHO has not demonstrated its ability to do that," he said.

Earlier this week, the Trump administration delivered a formal letter to United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, giving a year's notice of Washington's intention to leave the WHO.

Taiwan, formally the Republic of China, was expelled from the United Nations in 1971 and from the WHO in 1972.

Since then, Taiwan has not been able to participate in the WHA, except from 2009-2016, when it attended as an observer through an invitation from the WHO, amid warmer relations between Taipei and Beijing at the time.

On Thursday, Taiwan said it will continue its efforts to join the WHO and the WHA, despite the U.S. plans to withdraw.

Pompeo had recently reiterated the U.S.' support for Taiwan as an observer in the WHA, saying Taiwan's presence would be "useful" to the global community, in particular, at this time, during the COVID-19 pandemic.

(By Stacy Hsu and Frances Huang)

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