Taiwan suspends US$1 million donation to fight Ebola

In this Sunday, Sept 9, 2018 file photo, a health worker sprays disinfectant on his colleague after working at an Ebola treatment centre in Beni, Eastern Congo. (AP Photo/Al-hadji Kudra Maliro, FILE)

TAIPEI (CNA) — Taiwan announced on Dec. 24 that it had suspended a planned US$1 million donation to the World Health Organization (WHO) to fight the Ebola virus, citing “political factors.”

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) originally announced May 26 that Taiwan will donate US$1 million to the WHO to fight Ebola, even though the country was excluded from the annual meeting of the World Health Assembly (WHA), the highest decision-making body of the WHO, for the second year in a row.

Asked by lawmakers to comment on the latest development regarding the donation during a Legislative session on Dec. 24, Bob Chen (陳龍錦), director-general of Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ (MOFA) Department of International Organizations, made public the decision, which he said was made last week.

Despite more than seven months of negotiations, Chen said it is regrettable that Taiwan and the WHO secretariat failed to reach consensus on how the country can make the donation while upholding its national dignity.

Due to “political factors,” Chen said, the WHO Secretariat was unable to make sure Taiwan’s national dignity will not be downgraded during the donation. He did not elaborate. “We, therefore, decided to suspend the donation,” he said. The WHO, however, also said they are still open to future cooperation, Chen added.

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.

Beijing blocked the WHO’s invitation to Taipei to attend the 2017 and 2018 WHA, as it began adopting a more 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.

By Joseph Yeh