US voices support for Taiwanese participation in WHO

China recently sent invitation letter to health meet only hours before the event

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Health and Welfare Minister Chen Shih-chung speaking at the Legislative Yuan Wednesday.

Health and Welfare Minister Chen Shih-chung speaking at the Legislative Yuan Wednesday. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) - The United States has expressed its support for Taiwan’s participation in international bodies despite the island’s failure to attend a recent World Health Organization meeting in China.

Taiwan was unable to send a delegation to a Composition of Influenza Virus Vaccines meeting in Beijing on February 21 because it only received the invitation in the early hours of the very same day, the Central News Agency reported.

The move, which prevented Taiwan from attending an event it had participated in since 2014, was clearly perceived as a ruse by China to keep the island nation away from international forums.

The invitation had been sent by the WHO to the Chinese authorities, who deliberately postponed passing it on to Taiwan until it was too late, reports said.

Reacting to the latest incident, the State Department told CNA that the U.S. remained committed to backing Taiwan expanding its “already significant contributions to addressing global challenges.”

Washington said it supported Taiwan’s “meaningful participation” in international bodies which required statehood for membership and Taiwan’s membership in organizations which did not require statehood, CNA reported.

Health and Welfare Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) told lawmakers Wednesday that if the meeting had not been held in any other country but China, the local Taiwanese office would have helped make arrangements and a delegation would have been ready to attend the event, but in Beijing that was not possible.

Chen said taking part was necessary to protect the health of the Taiwanese people and to share Taiwan’s professional knowledge and experience with the global community.