Outlook not good for Taiwan WHA invite: minister

By Joseph Yeh, The China Post

TAIPEI, Taiwan — With around a month to go until the World Health Organization’s (WHO) late-May World Health Assembly (WHA), Taiwan is still anxiously awaiting an invitation. Asked to comment, Foreign Minister David Lee (李大維) told reporters Thursday that the prospect of Taiwan participating in this year’s WHA was “extremely dim.” Even so, Lin said, Taiwan’s overseas representative offices and the ministry as a whole were doing their best try to secure an invitation to the assembly, which will be held in Geneva from May 22 to 31. Lin said he still hoped Taiwan would be invited to the assembly before the online registration deadline on May 8. The WHO began sending letters of invitation in March. Last year, Taiwan received an invitation on May 9, only two weeks before the event’s opening.

Asked whether the ministry had asked for aid from its diplomatic allies and other friendly nations, such as the U.S., in supporting Taiwan’s bid, Lee said many friends of the country were doing their best “in a low-key fashion” to make it happen.

The minister said pushing for Taiwan’s WHA participation was better done in such a manner, as a forceful approach was likely to guarantee no invitation was offered. “We hope we can see a result soon,” he added. Meanwhile, during a Legislative interpellation session Wednesday, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said he would go to Geneva to express the nation’s stance and its contribution to world health even if Taiwan ultimately does not receive the invitation on time. A thawing of cross-strait ties during the previous Ma Ying-jeou-led Kuomintang administration, led to Taiwan’s attendance of the WHA as an observer under the name “Chinese Taipei.”