Foreign missions issue joint statement supporting Taiwan's WHA bid

05/21/2022 04:02 PM
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WHO headquarters in Geneva. CNA file photo
WHO headquarters in Geneva. CNA file photo

Taipei, May 21 (CNA) Five foreign missions in Taiwan, including the American Institute in Taiwan and the Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association, issued a joint statement Saturday backing Taiwan's participation in the World Health Assembly (WHA) as an observer.

The joint statement, also signed by the Australian Office, Taipei, the British Office Taipei, and the Canadian Trade Office in Taipei, reaffirmed "support for Taiwan's meaningful participation in the work of the World Health Organization [WHO] and Taiwan's participation as an observer in the World Health Assembly."

As health experts in Taiwan are working diligently to counter growing community COVID-19 transmission, excluding Taiwan from the WHA would hamper these efforts and compromise global health and safety, the statement said.

It argued that Taiwan's meaningful participation in WHO forums and committees would benefit Taiwan's people and the world, and the WHA would also "benefit from Taiwan's world-class expertise."

Yet that support and the backing of 71 governments, legislative bodies and parliamentary groups for Taiwan's participation in WHO bodies, according to Ministry of Foreign Affairs figures, is not likely to have much of an effect on Taiwan's bid to participate in the 2022 WHA.

Taiwan has not been invited to the annual conference, which opens Sunday and runs until May 28. Taiwan last received an invitation to the event in 2016.

As has been the case in recent years, however, there will be some discussion of the Taiwan issue at the WHA.

Thirteen of Taiwan's 14 diplomatic allies submitted a proposal to invite Taiwan to participate as an observer in the WHA, and it is expected to be addressed Sunday by the WHA's general committee, according to Steven Solomon, the WHO's principal legal officer.

The general committee will then make a recommendation to the plenary session on discussion of the issue, Solomon said.

Taiwan also sent a delegation led by Deputy Health Minister Lee Li-feng (李麗芬) to Geneva on Friday evening to campaign for Taiwan's inclusion in the WHO and its annual assembly.

The delegation will try to hold bilateral talks with health envoys of WHO member states outside the WHA meetings to explore ways to cooperate on public health, the Ministry of Health and Welfare said in a statement.

Taiwan was able to attend the WHO's decision-making body as an observer from 2009 to 2016 when relations between Taipei and Beijing were good under the previous administration, but the country has been excluded from the annual assembly since 2017.

Taiwan's current government has blamed China for stepping up its campaign to isolate Taiwan after President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) of the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party came to power in 2016.

Meanwhile, Tsai said Saturday in a three-minute video that more and more countries have spoken up in support of Taiwan's WHA bid, and she thanked those countries for standing together with Taiwan.

"With more support from the international community and more opportunities for international participation, Taiwan will become even more resilient and will be able to contribute even more to freedom and prosperity around the world."

(By Matt Yu and Teng Pei-ju)

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