Attendance at World Health Assembly is Taiwan priority for 2019

MOFA is not asking allies to discuss Taiwan at this month's WHO executive meeting

World Health Assembly in 2018

World Health Assembly in 2018 (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) on Tuesday listed attendance at the World Health Assembly (WHA) in May as a priority despite the expected opposition from China.

For the past two years, Taiwan has been unable to attend the annual event in Geneva, Switzerland, due to Beijing’s attempts at isolating the island and shutting down its international contacts.

MOFA acknowledged Tuesday that the task would be difficult, despite growing international support for Taiwan’s just cause, the Central News Agency reported.

At a World Health Organization executive committee meeting from January 24 to February 1, Taiwan would not ask its diplomatic allies to broach the subject of its WHA attendance, said Bob Chen (陳龍錦), the director-general of MOFA’s Department of International Organizations.

The first reason was that the committee meeting would only be attended by officials and experts from 34 countries, while the WHA saw the participation of top ministers from all over the world.

Secondly, most member states saw the executive committee gathering as the place to discuss technical items but not political issues, Chen said. As the final reason, he mentioned that the committee did not have the final say in deciding whether Taiwan could participate in the WHA as an observer.

The MOFA official said he would strengthen cooperation with Overseas Taiwanese groups, private organizations and other countries to intensify support for Taiwan’s cause.

More details about the country’s strategy for the May WHA would be revealed later, CNA reported.