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Ma must explain Taiwan's WHA status

Ma must explain Taiwan's WHA status

President Ma has repeatedly claimed that critics have been unable to point to "even one example" of how his rightist Chinese Nationalist Party (Kuomintang) government has harmed or sacrificed "our sovereignty" in its dealings with the People's Republic of China's Chinese Communist Party regime in 12 cross-strait agreements or other negotiations.
Ma's challenge contains an element of semantic and political sophistry, as the president has referred to "the sovereignty of the Republic of China" or the even more vague "our sovereignty" and avoided references to "Taiwan's sovereignty."
Nevertheless, a critical concrete case concerns Taiwan's attendance at the 62nd World Health Assembly in Geneva last May under the title of "Chinese Taipei" and our upcoming similar dispatch of a delegation under Health Minister Yaung Chih-liang to the 63rd WHA next week.
Although Ma has touted last year's participation in the five-day WHA as an "unprecedented breakthrough" and the first time Taiwan has directly participated in United Nations peripheral activities since 1971, the president and his government have maintained a blanket of secrecy on the process and content of the KMT-CCP negotiations that preceded the issuance of the WHO secretariat's invitation, especially given the existence of a May 2005 secret memorandum of understanding between the WHO and PRC that gave Beijing the power to vet all links between Taiwan and the Geneva-based health organization.
Moreover, the opposition Democratic Progressive Party last week released documentary evidence indicates that the arrangement may have actually have gravely set back Taiwan's international standing by tacitly accepting the May 2005 MOU framework.
Contrary to Ma's claims, the prime focus of concern regarding concerns not the "Chinese Taipei" moniker but Taiwan's substantive status.
With the case of Taiwan's affiliation with the Asian Development Bank, the International Olympic Committee, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum and the World Trade Organization, Taiwan may have used "Chinese Taipei" as a name or (as in the WTO) an abbreviation, but has held full membership on a level of parity with other "member states" including the PRC and thus has not suffered a denigration in substantive sovereignty.
With regard to Taiwan's status, it should be recalled that WHA by -laws only permit three types of observers.
In the official "List of Delegates and Other Participants" (http://apps.who.int/gb/e/e_wha62.html) , only the Holy See is listed under the category of "observers for a non-member state" and only Palestine is listed under the category for observers invited in accordance with a WHA resolution.
However, the "Chinese Taipei" delegation is listed on page 61 under the category of "Observers" together with the Order of Malta, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and the Inter-Parliamentary Union.
While this is distinguished company, it cannot be denied that the Order of Malta, the ICRF, the IFRC-RCS and the IPU are all non-governmental organizations.
In the provisional agenda for the 63rd WHA to be held from May 17 - 21 in Geneva, "Chinese Taipei" is listed last among scheduled speakers and is separated from WHO "state members" by the African Union, an NGO, and is therefore again implicitly listed as an NGO and not a "state."
Another signal of Taiwan's status under the WHA was shown in the list of ports authorized to issue Ship Sanitation Certificates under the International Health Regulations" issued on March 10, 2010 in which all of Taiwan's ports are included in the section for "China."
Moreover, Taiwan is included as part of the PRC in national maps and in functional charts such as for the spread of H1N1 influenza and even "Chinese Taipei" is now virtually invisible in WHO or WHA documents.
In addition, informed sources have testified that expectations for greater "meaningful participation" in WHO regional and technical meetings and activities in associated bodies have been stymied by the requirement to secure Beijing's approval.
Taiwan as a 'NGO'
Although "Chinese Taipei" is not explicitly identified as an NGO "belonging" to China, it is transparently evident from WHA and WHO documents that our participation in the WHA is based on the assumption of the suzerainty of the PRC over Taiwan.
In this respect, the DPP and concerned professional groups, such as the Taiwan Medical Professionals Foundation, have judged that the existing WHA observer arrangement marks a major rollback in Taiwan's international status.
Moreover, former health minister Chen Chien-jen has publicly declared that has stated that the expansion of Taiwan's participation in other WHO activities was been "limited" and remains far short of the objectives of "real time, comprehensive, equal and sustainable" needed for "meaningful participation."
Under the current circumstances, the best way to ensure that the formal WHA observer breakthrough does not turn into a substantive denigration of Taiwan's international standing is to actively use this platform to link up with the U.S., the European Union, Japan and other nations and to press for the passage of a special WHA resolution to legalize our status instead of merely relying on Beijing's fickle "goodwill."


Updated : 2022-01-23 08:44 GMT+08:00

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