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Health minister visits WHA venue in Geneva

Health minister visits WHA venue in Geneva

Health Minister Lin Tsou-yen visited the Palais des Nations in Geneva on Saturday to get a feel for the venue of the upcoming World Health Assembly (WHA).

During his tour of the venue, Taiwan's health minister found the seat arranged for him and noticed a card on the seat reading "Taipei Chinois," French for "Chinese Taipei," Taiwan's official designation at the assembly.

Asked if Taiwan's delegation will meet with its Chinese counterpart this year as it has in previous years, Lin said "there are no such arrangements. But (we) will say hello to each other if we meet."

Lin, who arrived in Geneva on Friday, said he has received an entry badge with his name on it, and he will take part in the annual meeting professionally and pragmatically with the goal of contributing to the global health system.

Lin will be seated in the last row of the assembly hall with representatives of the Fonds Mondial (Global Fund) on his right and of the Inter-Parliamentary Union on his left.

The WHA, the decision-making body of the World Health Organization (WHO), will take place in the Swiss city from May 23 to May 28.

Taiwan, which is not a member of the WHO, has been invited to attend the meeting as an observer under the name "Chinese Taipei" every year since 2009.

Unlike previous WHA invitations, however, in its invitation this year the WHO mentioned United Nations Resolution No. 2758, Resolution WHA 25.1 and the "one China principle" underlying the two documents.

The U.N. resolution was passed on October 25, 1971, recognizing the People's Republic of China (PRC) as "the only legitimate representative of China to the United Nations" and expelling the representatives of the Republic of China (Taiwan).

Resolution WHA 25.1 expelled the ROC from the WHO in 1972.

The inclusion of the "one-China" principle in the invitation was seen as an attempt to denigrate Taiwan's sovereignty.

Asked about the invitation, Lin said his country's participation is in accordance with the WHO Charter, which defines health as a basic human right.

Taiwan is participating in the WHA to maintain the health rights of its people and to fulfill its international duty because it is an indispensable part of the world's quarantine system, Lin said.

The minister is heading a 24-person delegation with 15 senior officials, including Centers for Disease Control Director-General Kuo Hsu-sung , Health Promotion Administration Director-General Chiou Shu-ti and Department of Medical Affairs Director Wang Tsung-hsi.

Lin assumed his office on May 20, when Tsai Ing-wen of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) was sworn in as Taiwan's first female president.

The inclusion of the "one-China" principle in the WHO invitation was seen as one in a series of moves by Beijing to put pressure on Taiwan after Tsai's independence-leaning party gained power in presidential and legislative elections on Jan. 16.

Beijing, which sees Taiwan as part of its territory, has regularly blocked Taiwan from participating in formal international events, but its actions have been more pronounced since Tsai was elected.

In April, Taiwan's delegation was forced to leave a symposium held by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in Brussels due to pressure from China, something that had not occurred in years past.

Updated : 2021-10-25 13:26 GMT+08:00