Exchanges between Taiwan, China delegations at WHA uncertain

Exchanges between Taiwan, China delegations at WHA uncertain

Geneva, May 22 (CNA) An encounter between the China and Taiwan delegations, arranged or fortuitous, at this year's World Health Assembly (WHA) remained uncertain hours before the opening of the meeting in Geneva, given the responses by the leaders of the two delegations to questions on that issue.

Taiwan's Health Minister Lin Tzou-yien, who is heading the Taiwan delegation, has said he will not go out of his way to arrange a meeting with the leader of the Chinese delegation to the WHA but will greet him if an opportunity arises.

Meanwhile, Li Bin, head of China's National Health and Family Planning Commission, did not respond Sunday to reporters' questions on whether there will be any exchanges between his and the Taiwan delegation. At this year's meeting of the annual WHA, the decision-making body of the World Health Organization, the Taiwan delegation will be seated in the rear left of the assembly hall at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, while the China delegation will be in the front right section.

The two delegations to the WHA conference, which will open Monday at 9:30 a.m., are attracting attention because of the recent change of government in Taiwan and a controversy over the wording of the invitation to Taiwan this year.

For the first time since 2009, the invitation for Taiwan to attend the WHA as an observer mentioned United Nations Resolution No. 2758, Resolution WHA 25.1, and the "one China principle" underlying the two documents.

The first resolution was passed in the United Nations in 1971, recognizing the People's Republic of China (PRC) as "the only legitimate representative of China" to the UN and expelling the representatives of the Republic of China (Taiwan), while the second resolution was adopted by the World Health Organization in 1972 to expel the ROC.

The mention of the two resolutions in the invitation was interpreted in some quarters as an attempt to denigrate Taiwan's sovereignty.

Lin declined to respond to reporters' questions Sunday when asked about media reports that he had been assigned to deliver a protest letter to WHO Director general Margaret Chan on Taiwan's behalf over the wording of the invitation.

Meanwhile, Taiwanese civic groups staged a protest Sunday near the venue of the WHA, calling for Taiwan to be made a full WTO member and to take part in all the activities at the WHA conference.

The protesters shouted slogans such as "one Taiwan, one China,"and "support Taiwan to join the UN," as they handed out leaflets. They also sang "Island's Sunrise", the theme song of a massive student-led protest movement in Taiwan 2014.

Lin Shih-chia, executive director of the Foundation of Medical Professionals Alliance, said Taiwan has been attending the WHA as an observer since 2009 under the name Chinese Taipei, but can only attend the general assembly, and it was time Taiwan gained full membership. (By Leaf Jiang, Emmanuelle Tzeng and Lilian Wu)

Updated : 2021-04-13 07:31 GMT+08:00