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Taiwan not invited to World Health Assembly, again

05/14/2024 06:39 PM
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CNA file photo
CNA file photo

Taipei, May 14 (CNA) The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said it is "deeply regrettable" that Taiwan has not been invited to attend this year's World Health Assembly (WHA), the annual meeting of the decision-making body of the World Health Organization (WHO).

The deadline for registering for the 77th WHA, to be held from May 27 to June 1 in Geneva was Monday, a deadline Taiwan, which is not a member of the United Nations, could not meet because it did not receive an invitation to the WHA for an eighth consecutive year.

In a written report sent to lawmakers for a legislative committee hearing on Wednesday, MOFA called on the WHO to "face squarely" Taiwan's professional contributions in the field of global health, and argued that Taiwan's exclusion from the WHO posed a global health risk.

The decision not to invite Taiwan to the WHA, which the government has repeatedly protested, not only disregards the rights of the 23.5 million people of Taiwan but also the health and welfare of all of humanity, the MOFA report said.

Despite the lack of an invitation, incoming Health Minister Chiu Tai-yuan (邱泰源) will lead a Taiwanese group to Geneva to attend a series of events to promote Taiwan's inclusion in the WHA, in line with previous practice, MOFA added.

Deputy Legislative Speaker Johnny Chiang (江啟臣) will also lead a legislative delegation to Geneva for the same purpose, it said.

The Republic of China (ROC), Taiwan's official name, left the WHO in 1972 following a decision by the United Nations to expel the ROC and recognize the People's Republic of China (PRC) as the only "legitimate representative of China."

Since then, Taiwan has been unable to attend the WHA even as an observer due to Chinese pressure, except from 2009 to 2016, when relations with China were warmer under Taiwan's then-Kuomintang (KMT) government and Beijing supported Taiwan's participation.

On Monday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin (汪文斌) told reporters in Beijing that China sees Taiwan as part of its territory, and that Taiwan's participation in the WHA "must be handled under the one-China principle."

"China's Taiwan region, unless given approval by the central government, has no basis, reason or right to participate in the WHA," he argued.

Asked to comment on Wang's remarks, Jeff Liu (劉永健), the spokesman for Taiwan's foreign ministry, said Tuesday that China has no right to interfere with Taiwan's diplomacy and international participation.

"Taiwan has never been part of the PRC. This is an objective fact and an internationally recognized status quo," he said.

It is Taiwan's right to participate in international organizations. The decision does not rely on Beijing's goodwill or need its consent, Liu argued.

(By Joseph Yeh)


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