WHA voting on Taiwan's participation today

World Health Assembly to decide Monday whether to include Taiwan

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(CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Members of the World Health Organization (WHO) will discuss on Monday (May 18) whether to include Taiwan in the 73rd World Health Assembly (WHA).

A document obtained by AFP states that the discussion of Taiwan's inclusion has been added to the agenda for the health assembly's General Committee. Due to the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the WHA is going to be held via teleconference for the first time ever from May 18 to 19.

Taiwan has been excluded from the conference for four years due to pressure from China. However, as tensions ratchet up between Beijing and Washington over the blame for the outbreak, the Trump administration has launched a campaign to have the island nation included in this year's WHA.

Fourteen of Taiwan's 15 diplomatic allies, with the exception of the Vatican, have written to WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom calling for Taiwan's participation. In addition, the U.S. is leading a group of eight major countries that are also voicing support, including Canada, Germany, France, Japan, the UK, New Zealand, and Australia.

In a May 15 document pertaining to the WHA agenda, Tedros stated the proposal to include Taiwan was "submitted to the General Committee for its consideration," according to AFP. The General Committee is usually formed at the time of each WHA meeting, consists of 15 member states from several regions, and can decide whether to include other topics to the existing agenda.

From 2009 to 2016, Taiwan participated in the WHA as an observer. However, when President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) first took office in 2016, she refused to recognize the "1992 Consensus," instead stating only that the 1992 Taiwan-China talks were a "historical fact."

In response, China has been seeking to punish Taiwan by excluding it from international organizations, by intimidating government bodies and corporations into de-listing Taiwan as a country, and by stealing the island's diplomatic allies. In 2017, China pressured member countries to exclude Taiwan from the WHA summit, and the country has been blocked from attending both WHO and WHA events since.