‘Unfair and suppressive’: gov’t slams Chinese WHA pressure

By Stephanie Chao, The China Post

TAIPEI, Taiwan — The Presidential Office Wednesday accused China of halting progress on the eradication of deadly epidemics, following rumors Beijing had sought to prevent Taiwan’s participation in this year’s World Health Assembly. The country is still anxiously awaiting an invite to the World Health Organization’s annual decision making summit, to be held in Geneva next month. On the issue of whether China would allow Taiwan to participate in the WHA this year, Ma Xiaoguang (馬曉光), a spokesman for China’s Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO), said earlier on Wednesday that participation should be predicated on “One China” principle and discussed through cross-strait negotiations.

But Presidential Office spokesman Sidney Lin (林鶴明) hit back, calling the statement an act of “suppression” that not only hurt the people of Taiwan, but also something that could have an negative impact on international society’s efforts to prevent epidemics. The government would continue to fight for opportunities for Taiwan to contribute to health issues on a global scale, the spokesman said.

“Health knows no boundaries, likewise, there shouldn’t be any gaps in epidemic prevention, either,” Lin said, stressing Taiwan’s importance, responsibility and contribution to the international society in this regard.

American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Chairman James F. Moriarty expressed support for Taiwan’s participation earlier this week, saying Taiwan’s participation as an observer at the past eight World Health Assembly meetings was welcomed by the U.S. and that Washington would “look forward to Taiwan’s continued participation at this important event.” Lin said that the Taiwanese government very much welcomed Moriarty’s visit and had expressed thanks to the U.S. government for supporting Taiwan’s participation in the WHA. Moriarty’s visit to Taiwan symbolized the close relations between Taiwan and the U.S., particularly under the current regional circumstances, Lin said. The Presidential Office did not confirm when President Tsai Ing-wen would meet with Moriarty. Lin said the scheduling were still been arranged and would be announced to the public once finalized. The spokesman also did not specifically respond to the media’s questions regarding whether Tsai supported or even aware of Health Minister Chen Shih-chung’s (陳時中) recent declaration that, regardless of whether Taiwan received a WHA invitation, the ministry would still lead a delegation to Geneva and promote Taiwan’s contribution to the international health field. “Taiwan’s government agencies are currently doing their utmost in the hope of attending the WHA,” Lin said. He added the government “would attempt all efforts.”