U.S., Lithuania among 10 countries backing Taiwan's WHA inclusion

05/24/2022 12:10 PM
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Image source: twitter.com/LithuaniaHealth
Image source: twitter.com/LithuaniaHealth

Geneva, May 23 (CNA) Ten countries on Monday voiced their support for Taiwan's inclusion in the World Health Assembly (WHA) during the second day of the WHA's annual meeting in Geneva after a proposal to invite it to the gathering was not put on the meeting's agenda.

The 10 countries that spoke up for Taiwan were two diplomatic allies, Paraguay and Guatemala, as well as the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Australia, Canada, Luxembourg and Lithuania.

It was the first time a Lithuanian health minister had publicly voiced the country's support for Taiwan's WHA bid by directly naming the country at the annual gathering.

In his address, Lithuanian Health Minister Arūnas Dulkys said the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is a global crisis that needs global responses.

"We emphasize the importance and adherence to the principle of effective multilateralism to be able to build a secure global health architecture."

"Therefore, we call on you to invite Taiwan to participate as an observer at the WHA, and increase Taiwan's meaningful participation in all WHO forums and mechanisms," he said.

"This step would allow the international community to benefit from Taiwan's experience and scientific and technical expertise as well as support the WHO's mission to advance global health and commitment to working for peace through health and for health through peace," he added.

In his address at the WHA last year, Dulkys did not directly name Taiwan but said all countries needed to be involved in global health issues.

Meanwhile, Loyce Pace, the assistant secretary for Global Affairs at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said it was regrettable that Taiwan has once again been excluded from the WHA.

"The U.S. deeply regrets that Taiwan, a critical partner contributing constructively to global health, has been excluded from attending the assembly as an observer," she said.

"This administration believes in the need for strong global relationships to combat COVID-19 and to prevent and prepare for future health emergencies."

The speakers representing the U.K., France, Germany, Paraguay and Guatemala all made similar appeals in Geneva on Monday.

They spoke after the WHA assembly on Monday morning rejected a proposal by 13 of Taiwan's diplomatic allies to invite it to attend the WHA as an observer.

The WHA -- the World Health Organization's decision-making body -- is holding its annual gathering from May 22 to May 28, and national representatives are attending in-person for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Taiwan cannot automatically participate in the activities of United Nations activities because it is not a U.N. member. Under its official name, the Republic of China, it lost its seat at the U.N. in 1971 and then was expelled from the WHO in 1972.

It was able to send delegations to participate in the WHA as an observer from 2009 to 2016 under the designation "Chinese Taipei" when relations between Beijing and Taipei were warmer during the then Kuomintang administration.

Since 2017, Taiwan has been excluded from the WHA due to opposition from China, which has taken a hard line against President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and her Democratic Progressive Party for their stance that Taiwan is an independent state.

(By Tseng Ting-hsuan, Lin Yu-li and Joseph Yeh)

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