Taiwan president slams China over WHA pressure

Taiwan's goodwill will not change, but it will never yield to pressure: Tsai

President Tsai (right) with Health Minister Chen Shih-chung. (By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) slammed China over its “senseless pressure” to prevent Taiwan from attending the World Health Assembly (WHA) as she met Health and Welfare Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) Saturday just hours after he arrived back from Switzerland.

After nine years of attending the annual Geneva meetings as an observer, this year Taiwan did not receive an invitation, mainly due to China’s displeasure at the Tsai Administration’s refusal to state that there is only one China and that Taiwan is part of it.

Despite the absence of an invite, Chen still traveled to the WHA, where he had bilateral meetings with delegations from 31 countries and from 28 organizations.

Taiwan’s participation should not be interfered with for political motives, Tsai said, cautioning that cross-straits relations had been damaged to a certain degree by the events surrounding the WHA.

“My promises will not change, my goodwill will not change, we will not return to the old ways of confrontation, but we will absolutely not yield under pressure,” Tsai said.

She added that Beijing’s leaders should draw the right conclusions from last year’s election results. Tsai and her Democratic Progressive Party scored landslide victories in the January 2016 presidential and legislative elections, for a large part because the public rejected the previous Kuomintang government’s rapid rapprochement with China.

Tsai praised the accomplishments of Chen and his delegation and thanked them as a representative of the nation. She also expressed gratitude to the 14 diplomatic allies who spoke up on Taiwan’s behalf during the WHA, including the representatives of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and of Palau who did so during the live broadcast of debates.

The United States, Japan and Germany expressed support for Taiwan, which was the result of the island’s delegation integrating government and non-governmental initiatives to tell the world that the country could not be absent from a global health safety network, the president said.

At a separate news conference Saturday evening, Chen said that during his stay in Geneva, he had also organized two discussions, one with Swiss experts about health insurance exchanges between the two countries and one with representatives of the U.S. and Japan about responses to outbreaks of contagious diseases.

He expressed confidence that his trip had laid the foundations for progress in the future, adding that Taiwan would not give up its effort to take up its rightful place at international events like the WHA.