U.S. voices support for Taiwan on WHO participation

Geneve le 27 janvier 2015. Le siege de l'Organisation Mondiale de la Sante lors du 136 eme session du Conseil executif du World Health Organization (WHO). (ALEXANDRE GELEBART/SIPA/1501271824 -- Sipa via AP Images)

WASHINGTON (CNA) — The United States on March 5 reiterated its support for Taiwan’s participation at world bodies following the island’s effective exclusion from a recent World Health Organization (WHO) meeting held in Beijing.

“The United States remains committed to supporting Taiwan as it seeks to expand its already significant contributions to addressing global challenges,” the State Department told CNA in an e-mail after Taiwan’s failure to attend the WHO meeting on flu vaccines held in Beijing Feb. 21.

“The United States supports Taiwan’s membership in international organizations that do not require statehood as a prerequisite for membership. In international organizations that require statehood for membership, the United States supports Taiwan’s meaningful participation.”

Taiwan was unable to take part in the biannual consultation on the Composition of Influenza Virus Vaccines because it did not receive an invitation from Beijing until 1 a.m. the day the meeting was to be held in the Chinese capital. It was the first time Taiwan has not attended the meeting since 2014 when the country was invited to take part.

In the wake of the incident, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and Foreign Affairs Minister Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) lodged a stern protest against Beijing’s actions, noting that such a move could seriously damage the health rights of Taiwan’s people and create major gaps in the global network to prevent epidemics.

“The WHO was founded under the principle of providing all human beings the highest standard of public health and medical care. However, Taiwanese people have been excluded from enjoying that (due to political interference),” he said, adding that the WHO should conduct a review following the incident.

Wu said Monday that Taiwan’s participation at WHO-related events is not supposed to go through China and that the government does not accept any such arrangement between the WHO and Beijing.

In accordance with a secret memorandum signed by the WHO and China in 2005, the WHO informed Beijing instead of Taipei about the invitation. However, Beijing deliberately withheld the invitation until the day of the flu virus meeting, Taiwan’s foreign ministry said in a statement.

Taoyuan Mayor Cheng Wen-tsan (鄭文燦) of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party WHO is currently visiting the U.S., said it was an inappropriate mechanism for Beijing to transfer the invitation to Taiwan.

Cheng said Beijing’s actions are clearly detrimental to global epidemic prevention efforts, adding that he plans to discuss the matter with U.S. officials.

By Chiang Chin-yeh and Flor Wang