TAIPEI (CNA) — Taiwan will not ask friendly countries and diplomatic allies to raise the issue of its participation in the World Health Assembly (WHA) during the World Health Organization’s (WHO) executive board session to be held later this month.
Bob Chen (陳龍錦), director-general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Department of International Organizations, said the ministry has decided against the idea for practical reasons, despite calls by local public health experts to push Taiwan’s WHA participation at the session being held from Jan. 24 to Feb. 1.
The executive board, Chen said, is composed of 34 individuals technically qualified in the health field and focuses exclusively on technical and professional issues, and the ministry felt it would be inappropriate to raise a political issue such as Taiwan’s WHA participation during the meeting.
There was also the feeling it would not have been practical because the executive board does not have the authority to grant Taiwan’s request, Chen said.
The ministry, therefore, decided to shelve the idea and ask allies and Taiwan-friendly members of the WHO to raise the issue of Taiwan’s possible inclusion in the WHA this May instead if Taiwan is once again denied admission, Chen said.
This year’s WHA, the highest decision-making body of the WHO, will be held from May 20 to 28 in Geneva, Switzerland.
Taiwan had previously asked friendly countries and diplomatic allies to raise the WHA participation issue at executive board sessions in 2002, 2006 and 2008, but those attempts were all blocked by Beijing.
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.
Since 2017, however, China has blocked the WHO from inviting Taiwan to attend in line with its hardline stance on cross-Taiwan Strait relations adopted after President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) of the Democratic Progressive Party took office in May 2016.
Despite being excluded from the WHA sessions in 2017 and 2018, Taiwan sent delegations to Geneva both of those years to meet with officials from countries participating in the WHA and to protest Taiwan’s exclusion.
By Joseph Yeh