EU backs Taiwan's inclusion in WHO

EU official says Taiwan should be included in WHO

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EU banner.

EU banner. (Wikimedia Commons photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — As the China coronavirus spreads globally and after Canada and Japan expressed support for Taiwan's participation in the World Health Organization (WHO), the European Union on Thursday (Jan. 30) also called for Taiwan's inclusion.

When asked by CNA on Thursday whether Taiwan should be included in the WHO, EU Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Virginie Battu-Henriksson, said that in general, and given the special circumstances of the outbreak of the new coronavirus, the EU is committed to discussing and seeking practical solutions with its partners, and when there are professional technologies and capabilities in which Taiwan has relevant expertise, "Taiwan should be included."

The EU is not an official member of the WHO, but rather an observer. However, it has significant sway as its 28 member states are all official participants in the organization.

At a meeting of the National Councilors in the upper house of Japan's National Diet on Thursday morning, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said, "It is necessary for Taiwan to join the WHO. Under the premise of epidemic prevention and public health policies, 'political stances' should be overruled. Otherwise, maintaining the health of the entire region and further preventing the spread of infection will become a difficult problem."

During an interpellation in the Canadian parliament on Wednesday, Conservative Party member Michael Cooper deliberately spelled out "T-a-i-w-a-n" and added, "This is a question about Taiwan!" He said the health and safety of Canadians rely on an effectively coordinated international response to the coronavirus and pointed out that Taiwan had previously confirmed five cases (now eight).

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau responded by reading from a prepared statement:

"Yes Mr. Speaker, as we did during the time of the SARS virus, we support Taiwan's meaningful participation in international multilateral forums. Especially when its presence provides important contributions to the global public good. We believe that Taiwan's role as an observer in World Health Assembly meetings is in the best interest of the international health community and also is an important partner in the fight against this epidemic."

Martijn van Helvert, a member of the Netherlands House of Representatives, on Twitter wrote "Taiwan must participate in the WHO. Earlier I asked for this, but China still refuses. When does Xi Jinping see that the health of its own population also belongs to the strategic interests?" Sjoerd Sjoerdsma, another representative, on Twitter also called on Taiwan's participation in WHO meetings and said it was "Unwise to politicize healthcare in the fight against epidemics."