Push to include Taiwan at WHA hampering fight against coronavirus pandemic: China

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman claims exclusion from annual WHO event was Taiwan's 'own choice'

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Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lijian Zhao. (Twitter photo)

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lijian Zhao. (Twitter photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — With the World Health Assembly (WHA) meeting drawing near and a growing number of countries voicing support for Taiwan’s participation in the annual event, the Chinese foreign ministry's spokesperson cried foul on Thursday (May 14), calling the effort an attempt to sabotage the assembly and stall international cooperation against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Beijing has been blocking Taiwan from the WHA since Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) took office in 2016. When asked at Thursday's media briefing to comment on recent proposals by Taiwan's allies Eswatini and Nicaragua to grant the country observer status at this month's WHA, spokesperson Lijian Zhao (趙立堅) responded: "China is absolutely opposed to any proposals for Taiwan's inclusion in WHA."

He added that such an invitation has to be made under the "one China" principle and in line with the spirit of U.N. Resolution 2758 and WHA Resolution 25.1.

Zhao continued to say that the Chinese government has made the proper arrangements to ensure Taiwan can respond to any global public health issues in a timely fashion, stressing that there is no loophole in global health security — a statement that runs counter to the sentiments of Taiwanese.

Meanwhile, Zhao denounced the "few" countries voicing support for a Taiwanese seat at the WHA, saying they aim to undermine international efforts to fight the pandemic.

Zhao called Taiwan's exclusion from the annual WHO event a result "of its own choice," as its current leader has refused to accept the "1992 Consensus," a controversial policy backed by Tsai's KMT predecessor that diminishes Taiwan's sovereignty but resulted in Taiwan being permitted to attend the WHA between 2009 and 2016 as an observer.

Interestingly, Zhao's remarks prove there exists a political reason behind the WHA's recalcitrance as well as China's strong influence in the organization, which WHO leaders rush to deny.

The ambassadors of eight UN members (the United States, Japan, Canada, the UK, France, Germany, Australia, and New Zealand) contacted two senior WHO officials on May 7 to verbally make the case for Taiwan's participation as an observer at WHA meetings, reports said.