A proposal to invite Taiwan to participate in the World Health Assembly (WHA) as an observer was left off the agenda of this year's session after a debate during the plenary meeting.
The result, which was not unexpected, mirrored the inability in recent years of Taiwan's allies to get the Taiwan issue on the WHA's formal agenda, mainly because of China's obstruction.
Taiwan's bid to participate in the WHA, the decision-making body of the World Health Organization (WHO), was one of the topics in the plenary discussion when the 74th WHA opened virtually on Monday. As 13 of Taiwan's 15 diplomatic allies had earlier called on the World Health Organization (WHO) to invite Taiwan to participate in the WHA as an observer, it was decided to deal with the appeal in two sessions.
According to sources, the proposal was first raised by two diplomatic allies of Taiwan during the WHA General Committee meeting, but the committee decided not to include it into the agenda due to objections from China. The stage then turned to the plenary session with a two on two debate, similar to last year, sources said.
Nauru and Eswatini, both diplomatic allies of Taiwan, spoke up for Taiwan while China and Pakistan expressed their opposition to including the proposal on Taiwan in this year's agenda, according to sources. China argued that Taiwan should only be allowed to participate in any international organization under the "One China" principle, sources said.
After the debate, Bhutan's health minister, Dechen Wangmo, who was elected as this year's WHA president, decided to leave the proposal off the agenda, sources said. Taiwan, whose formal designation is the Republic of China, was expelled from the WHO in 1972, a few months after its seat in the United Nations was given to the People's Republic of China.
Since then, Taiwan has not been able to participate in the WHA, even as an observer, due to Beijing's opposition, except from 2009-2016, when cross-Taiwan Strait relations were warmer under the then-Kuomintang government. This year marked Taiwan's exclusion from the WHA for a fifth consecutive year since 2017 due to China's objection.