TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) in May announced a donation of US$1 million to the World Health Organization (WHO) to fund the fight against the Ebola virus, but the plan was confirmed as suspended by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) Monday due to “political considerations” on the part of the WHO’s governing body.
The WHO has failed to come up with proper arrangements regarding the donation from the Taiwan government owing to “political considerations," said Bob Chen (陳龍錦), director-general of MOFA’s Department of International Organizations on Monday during a Legislative Yuan session.
The Taiwan government decided to suspend the plan even though it has been discussions with the health organization about the donation over the past seven months.
The government required that the donation must be made without undermining Taiwan’s dignity as a nation, and that the goodwill of Taiwanese people should be recognized by the WHO, added Chen.
This is not the first time Taiwan’s proposal to fund the WHO, which does not recognize the country, has been challenged. In 2014, the Taiwan government, then led by Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) of the more China-friendly Kuomintang, prepared to donate US$1 million to the WHO, but the organization refused.
In the end, the government made the donation through a foundation under the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the donation receipt identified the American foundation as the donor without mentioning Taiwan.
President Tsai originally announced that the government would provide a US$1-million fund for WHO’s efforts to combat Ebola during the WHA week in New York at the end of May, during a meeting with a WHA action team in New York, led by Health Minister Chen Shih-Chung (陳時中), which was campaigning for Taiwan’s participation in the World Health Assembly (WHA) and WHO-related activities.
The fund was originally planned as monetary assistance to Taiwan’s former diplomatic ally, Burkina Faso, which cut ties with Taiwan and switched recognition to China on May 24.
Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) said days after the president’s announcement that the country anticipated making the donation in the name of the“Republic of China,” the official name for Taiwan.
However, Wu’s idea was unlikely to be accepted by the WHO, as Beijing has continued to intensify its attempts to isolate the island and compress Taiwan’s international space ever since President Tsai took office in May 2016.
Taiwan has not been able to take part in the WHA, the health organization’s most important annual conference where important policies are made. Before 2017, the country had been invited to the assembly as an observer for eight years.