Leaders of Caribbean allies call for Taiwan's inclusion in WHA

05/07/2021 10:58 PM
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CNA file photo
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Taipei, May 7 (CNA) Leaders of Taiwan's Caribbean allies have urged the World Health Organization (WHO) to allow Taiwan's participation in the upcoming World Health Assembly (WHA), less than three weeks before the United Nations agency opens its annual health summit in Geneva.

"It makes absolutely no sense to exclude Taiwan" from the upcoming World Health Assembly, said Ralph E. Gonsalves, prime minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, in a pre-recorded video.

The prime minister called on the WHO to invite Taiwan to the annual summit as an observer, arguing that excluding the island will "limit the effectiveness of that assembly and the operations of the World Health Organization."

"Leave the politics out, this is about health," he said.

Ralph E. Gonsalves, prime minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

Mark Brantley, foreign minister of Saint Kitts and Nevis, said in a separate video that Taiwan should be included in the WHA so it can play a role in international affairs.

"Taiwan has demonstrated throughout this COVID-19 pandemic that it is a global leader," said Brantley, adding that the island has "set global standards in handling this pandemic."

"Taiwan has proved itself to be a successful model in the global fight against the pandemic, not just by successful management of the spread, but also by helping other countries, including my country Saint Lucia, to combat the outbreak," Health Minister of Saint Lucia Mary Isaac said, stressing it is time to "let Taiwan help."

The pre-recorded videos provided by the embassies of the three Caribbean allies in Taiwan were released on Friday.

Mark Brantley, foreign minister of Saint Kitts and Nevis
Health Minister of Saint Lucia Mary Isaac

The WHA will be held virtually from May 24 to June 1 due to the ongoing pandemic, and it remains unclear whether Taiwan will be invited to the assembly this year.

The country was able to take part in the WHA as an observer from 2009-2016 under the administration of then President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) when relations between mainland China and Taiwan were good, due to Ma's policy of reducing tensions and putting aside differences by accepting a compromise agreement.

Since President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) of the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party took office in 2016, however, relations have soured and Taiwan has not been able to participate in the WHA, even as an observer, due to Beijing's objections.

The island has not been invited to the WHA since 2017 despite growing support for Taiwan's inclusion from the international community in recent years, such as foreign ministers from the G7 group of wealthy countries this year.

"The international community should be able to benefit from the experience of all partners, including Taiwan's successful contribution to the tackling of the COVID-19 pandemic," the group said in a joint communiqué issued after the ministers' meeting in London earlier this week.

Beijing sees Taiwan and mainland China as part of one country and objects to Taipei being treated like a separate nation, such as by being allowed to participate in international organizations reserved for countries.

It has insisted Tsai's government accept the 1992 Consensus before relations can be restored. Under the agreement, both sides agree there's one China, albeit subject to different definitions of what that China is, according to Ma's administration. Tsai's administration has rejected the consensus and Ma's interpretation of it.

(By Chen Yi-wei and Teng Pei-ju)

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