AIT expresses strong U.S. support for Taiwan in World Health Assembly

Taiwan has been excluded from the annual World Health Assembly (WHA) meeting, after the registration deadline for the forum expired without Taiwan receiving an invitation to attend. (Photo courtesy of CNA)

Taipei, May 10 (CNA) The United States strongly supports Taiwan’s participation as an observer in this year’s meeting of the World Health Assembly (WHA), the decision-making body of the World Health Organization (WHO), the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) said in a Facebook post Wednesday.

“We cannot have prosperity if we’re not healthy.”

“Infectious diseases like Ebola can spread from villages to world capitals in 36 hours,” AIT said at the beginning of the post.

“Stopping them early is a national security priority,” it said, which is why the United States and Taiwan have jointly hosted five regional public health workshops since 2015.

“These workshops have improved our collective ability to stop the spread of infectious diseases,” according to the AIT statement.

“The United States strongly supports Taiwan’s participation as an observer in the WHA,” AIT said, adding that Taiwan is committed to global health security and has made important contributions to public health, and the United States believes that Taiwan should not be excluded from these critical discussions.

Taiwan did not receive an invitation from the WHO by the online registration deadline of 6 a.m. Tuesday morning Taiwan time to attend the annual WHA meeting, which is slated to kick off May 21 in Geneva.

Taiwan will be excluded from the WHA for a second straight year after being allowed to attend the WHA as an observer from 2009-2016 amid better relations with China when President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) was head of state.

However, Beijing has taken a harder line against Taiwan and put increased pressure on it in the international community since Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) took office as president in May 2016, including using its influence to keep Taiwan out of the WHA in May 2017.

Tsai and the DPP refuse to accept the “1992 consensus” that underpinned ties with China when Ma was in office, because it implies China and Taiwan belong to the same country.

(By Chen Yi-wei and Evelyn Kao)