Allies support Taiwan as WHA draws near

Numerous diplomatic allies, friendly countries have called for Taiwan's participation in WHA, WHO

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The 2020 World Health Assembly begins May 18.

The 2020 World Health Assembly begins May 18. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — With only six days remaining until the World Health Assembly (WHA), 12 of Taiwan’s diplomatic allies have already called for the island nation to be invited to the meeting.

Nicaragua, Palau, Eswatini, Saint Lucia, the Marshall Islands, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Belize, Haiti, Nauru, Paraguay, and Tuvalu have expressed support for Taiwan's inclusion in the WHA as an observer.

The diplomatic allies emphasized that the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic highlights the importance of inclusivity as well as the urgent need to fill in the gaps in the global health network.

In addition, the U.S. and Japan last week rallied eight countries, including Canada, the UK, France, Germany, Australia, and New Zealand, to jointly pen a letter to World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, CNA reported.

Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) on Monday (May 11) expressed gratitude to these eight nations and predicted that more would show solidarity with the island in the near future.

The 73rd WHA is scheduled to take place via video conferencing May 18-19. In response to the calls for Taiwan’s participation, the WHO has stated that whether Taiwan can attend as an observer is up to member states to decide, not the organization’s secretariat.

The sudden wave of increased international support for Taiwan has inevitably triggered China. On Monday, Liu Yuyin (劉玉印), spokesman for the Chinese delegation to the WHO, issued a statement saying that China firmly opposes individual countries pressuring the WHO to discuss the Taiwan issue.

Liu reiterated the Chinese Communist Party line that Taiwan is an inalienable part of Chinese territory and that the Taiwan issue is an internal affair. Liu also referred to UN General Assembly Resolution 2758 and WHA Resolution 25.1 to argue that Taiwan’s participation in international organizations must adhere to Beijing’s “one China” principle.

Liu went on to say that China has not forgotten to commend Director-General Tedros. The Chinese ambassador to the WHO, Chen Xu (陳旭), said at a recent press conference that Tedros and the global health agency have played a key role in the fight against coronavirus.

He added that the UN secretary-general and leaders of a number of countries, regional organizations, and other international entities deserve praise for their performance during the crisis.