Health minister arrives in Geneva to make WHA case for Taiwan

Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) (Photo courtesy of NOWnews)

Taipei, May 19 (CNA) Health Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) and his team arrived in Geneva on Saturday to hold a series of events on the sidelines of the annual meeting of the World Health Assembly (WHA), which Taiwan was not invited to attend.

Chen said after arriving that he will stress at every public event he attends in Geneva that the World Health Organization (WHO) made a mistake in not inviting Taiwan to the 71st WHA meeting, part of the “angry card” strategy he referred to earlier in the week.

He was to hold bilateral talks on medical cooperation with representatives from multiple countries Saturday night and will attend a reception hosted by Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs for important health and other officials from around the world Sunday.

The major bilateral meetings he will hold are with his counterparts from the U.S. and Japan. The meetings have been scheduled, but their times were not disclosed.

The minister said he is hoping to have more bilateral talks this year and address more important topics that will make way for concrete cooperation.

Chen will also be hosting an international press conference on Monday, the first day of the WHA meeting, which runs from May 21 to 26.

He reiterated that Taiwan is ready with professionals and resources should the WHO need it.

Taiwan is not a member of the United Nations or the WHO or other U.N. related organizations, and has had to fight against China’s objections to participate in those organizations’ activities.

It was able to participate in the WHA as an observer from 2009 to 2016 when Taiwan’s relations with China were warmer, but has been blocked from attending the past two years because of Beijing’s obstruction.

China has taken a harder line on Taiwan since 2016 after the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which does not see Taiwan as a part of China, took power in May of that year.

(By Tang Pei-chun, Dai Ya-chen and Kuan-lin Liu)