TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – The co-chairs of the United States Congressional Taiwan Caucus wrote a letter to the director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO) in support of Taiwan’s bid to attend the annual World Health Assembly (WHA), which kicks off in Geneva Monday (May 20).
For the third year in a row, China has pressured the WHO into refusing to send an invitation to the island nation, leading to protests and international expressions of support from countries including the U.S., Japan, Britain, France and Australia.
The latest were the four co-chairs of the Congressional Taiwan Caucus, Republicans Steve Chabot and Mario Diaz-Balart and Democrats Gerald Connolly and Albio Sires.
They signed a letter emphasizing Taiwan’s positive contributions to global health efforts, but also expressed concern about WHO statements to the effect that a “cross-strait understanding” would be needed before the island could be invited, “a position giving China veto power over whether Taiwan can participate.”
Barring the island’s health officials from the May 20-28 WHA “needlessly puts the people of Taiwan at risk,” as diseases “do not respect political boundaries, and political considerations must not override public health and WHO’s values,” the members of Congress wrote.
They closed off their letter with a request to invite Taiwan to the WHA as an observer and to “provide for its consistent inclusion in WHO technical activities.”