Taipei, May 8 (CNA) Taiwan on Tuesday expressed regret that it has once again being excluded from the annual World Health Assembly (WHA) meeting, after the registration deadline for the forum expired without Taiwan receiving an invitation to attend.
It will be the second year in a row that Taiwan has failed to obtain an invitation to the WHA, the decision-making body of the WHO, which will hold its 71st session this year from May 21 to 26 in Geneva.
Taiwan had sought the support of its diplomatic allies and other friendly countries to obtain an invitation to this year’s WHA but did not receive one by the 6 a.m. deadline Tuesday morning Taiwan time because of Chinese pressure.
In a statement, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said the enjoyment of good health is a universal human right of every human being without distinction of race, religion, political belief, or economic or social condition.
It called on the WHO not to ignore Taiwan’s decades-long contributions to global health and disease prevention, saying that the country has played an important role in global efforts to combat disease.
The ministry also thanked the United States, diplomatic allies and other like-minded countries that have provided support and assistance to Taiwan’s efforts to take part in the upcoming WHA session.
Though it did not specifically mention China, which was behind Taiwan’s exclusion from the meeting, the ministry noted that only a government democratically elected by Taiwan’s people can be responsible for the health of its 23 million people.
The statement was meant to counter China’s claim that Beijing can tend to the health of Taiwan’s people even if Taiwan is not invited to the WHA.
MOFA also urged the WHO to be inclusive and to accept Taiwan’s participation in the WHA and all WHO-related events to create a win-win situation for both sides.
Taiwan attended the WHA as an observer under the name Chinese Taipei from 2009 to 2016 with the help of the U.S. amid better relations with China during the previous Kuomintang (KMT) administration.
In 2017, China blocked the WHO’s invitation to Taiwan to attend the WHA as it began adopting a hardline stance on cross-Taiwan Strait relations after President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) of the Democratic Progressive Party took office in May 2016.
Taiwan had hoped to attend the 2017 WHA in Geneva as an observer, as it had done the previous eight years, but it did not receive an invitation from the WHO because of opposition from China.
Despite being excluded from the WHA session in 2017, Taiwan sent a delegation to Geneva to meet with officials from countries participating in the WHA and to protest Taiwan’s exclusion.
(By Joseph Yeh)