15 countries voice support for Taiwan at WHA

Over a dozen countries voiced support for Taiwan’s attendance at WHA

Delegates from all over the world at the WHA. (By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (Taiwan)— At the first day of the World Health Assembly that runs from May 22-31 this year, a coalition of Taiwan's diplomatic allies comprising of 11 nations, and four other countries publicly voiced support for the island nation's attendance at the global event.

The coalition of Taiwan's diplomatic allies submitted a petition to send a "WHA observer status invitation to Taiwan," which was reviewed in private by the World Health Organization's general committee.

Taiwan's diplomatic allies Swaziland, the Solomon Islands, Saint Vincent and Grenadines all voiced their support at the general committee.

Saint Vincent and Grenadines Minister of Health, Wellness and Environment Robert Browne emphasized the concept that "Taiwan is a part of China" should be rejected because Taiwan is a democratic country.

Taiwan or also known as Republic of China was a founding UN country, and in the 1970s the UN evicted the Chiang Kai-shiek government from further participation, but this does not indicate "China represents Taiwan,” he argued.

Browne emphasized the WHA represents basic human rights to health, and this should include Taiwan's 23 million people.

The health minister and 10 other Taiwan diplomatic allies said they would stage a protest if the petition was rejected.

In addition, the U.S, Germany, Australia and Burkina Faso also argued in favor of Taiwan's participation at WHA during the general committee meeting.

The U.S. is "very disappointed" that the WHA did not send an observer status invitation to Taiwan this year, said Tom Price, the U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary.

The U.S. supports Taiwan's attendance at WHA, added Price.

Germany's Minister of Health Hermann Gröhe noted the European country supports "broad participation without exception" in health issues and the WHO's role is a convener and implementer.

Gröhe voiced regret over the WHA's refusal to issue an invitation to an observer that participated at the event for years and hoped this situation can be amended by 2018.

Taiwan obtained WHA observer status in 2009 and attended the annual global health event for eight consecutive years under the name Chinese Taipei until 2016.

An Australian representative at WHA noted Taiwan's observer status was a remarkable indicator of WHO's relations with Taiwan, which the Oceania state hoped to continue.

China and Cuba, however, strongly opposed the petition.

Ma Zaoxu, China's ambassador to Geneva, claimed Taiwan's WHA observer status over the last eight years was based on Chinese Central government's approval that the "Taiwan region”could attend the assembly under the name "Chinese Taipei.”

However, Taiwan's ruling Democratic Progressive Party's repeated denial of the "one-China" policy eradicated the basis for Taiwan's participation, said Ma.

The WHO general committee chairman concluded the meeting with the decision to exclude Taiwan's observer status invitation petition from this year's WHA agenda.