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Taiwan: Taiwanese citizens denied chance to watch WHA proceedings

Taiwan: Taiwanese citizens denied chance to watch WHA proceedings

Taiwanese civic groups were denied access to the 64th World Health Assembly (WHA) for the first time in more than a decade because of what WHA organizers described as a new rule instituted this year.

Some 30 Taiwanese people, from groups including the Taiwan Association of Civil Society, were denied admission to the WHA meeting hall after showing their Republic of China (Taiwan) passports to obtain entry passes.

When workers handling the passes were asked why, they said, "This is a special regulation put in this year."

The workers then told the Taiwanese applying for passes that they could get in if they produced IDs other than ROC passports.

The members of the civic groups, stunned by the rejection, said it was the first time in more than 10 years that they had been denied access to watch the WHA proceedings from the public seating available in the hall.

The Central News Agency contacted the office of WHO spokesperson Fadela Chaib for comment, but Chaib was out, and the staff member who answered the phone said she was not familiar with the situation.

Taiwan's Health Minister Chiu Wen-ta, who is heading Taiwan's delegation to the annual meeting, protested the action, after filing a protest with the World Health Organization (WHO) for its downgrading of Taiwan's status in an internal WHO document.

In a written letter of protest to the WHO's Secretariat, Chiu asked the world health body to correct its designation of Taiwan as a "province of China" in the document, because Taiwan is a sovereign state that has never been a province of China.

Taiwan has attended the WHA as an observer since 2009, which was attributed to improved relations between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait since President Ma Ying-jeou took office in 2008.

Despite the more harmonious ties, however, China has continued to try to prevent Taiwan from participating in international organizations and has pressured groups to treat Taiwan as one of its provinces.

Updated : 2022-01-29 03:27 GMT+08:00