President Tsai wants global support for WHA bid

President Tsai shakes hands with Belgian Senate President Jacques Brotchi. (NOWnews)

TAIPEI (CNA) — President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) told the leader of the Belgian Senate on May 6 that she hoped his government would support Taiwan’s efforts to participate in the World Health Assembly (WHA) later this month, as its exclusion would create loopholes in the global epidemic prevention network.

In a recent letter to WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, heads of the Taiwan friendship groups in the European Parliament and the parliaments of Germany, France, and the United Kingdom expressed support for Taiwan’s participation in this year’s WHA, Tsai said while receiving Belgian Senate President Jacques Brotchi at the Presidential Office in Taipei.

Tsai said she hoped that Brotchi would ask the Belgian government to also support Taiwan’s WHA bid, as health is a basic human right.

She said that as part of China’s efforts at suppression, it has been blocking Taiwan’s participation in the WHA, an action that will create loopholes in global epidemic prevention and present a risk to the health of people around the world.

Belgian Senate President Jacques Brotchi exchanges views with President Tsai. (Courtesy of the Presidential Office)

The Belgian parliament has long supported Taiwan in several areas, Tsai said, expressing thanks to Brotchi and the other members of parliament.

For example, she noted, the Belgian parliament has passed various pro-Taiwan resolutions, supported a proposed investment agreement between Taiwan and the European Union, backed Taiwan’s bid to participate in international organizations, and recognized Taiwan’s efforts to maintain regional peace.

In addition, Tsai said, Belgium has long been a trading partner of Taiwan, and many Belgian companies have been teaming up Taiwanese firms to help develop green energy and pharmaceutical biotechnology in Taiwan.

Tsai also met Monday with Mark Brantley, St. Kitts and Nevis minister of foreign affairs and aviation, and mentioned to him the issue of China’s growing suppression of Taiwan.

Taiwan, however, will not back down, but rather is more determined than ever to deepen its cooperative ties with its diplomatic allies, she said.

In its relations with St. Kitts and Nevis, one of its Caribbean allies, Taiwan will strengthen bilateral cooperation in the areas of agricultural technology, education, public health and medical care, Tsai said.

The WHA, the decision-making body of the World Health Organization (WHO), will hold its 72nd session May 20-28 in Geneva, Switzerland, and Taiwan wants to attend the meeting as an observer but has yet to receive an invitation to attend.

Taiwan first attended the WHA as an observer in 2009, a year after the administration of former President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) came to power and pursued a more conciliatory policy toward Beijing.

After Tsai of the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party took office in 2016, however, the WHA stopped inviting Taiwan to its annual meetings in Geneva, amid political pressure by China.

In 2017 and 2018, Taiwan sent delegations to Geneva to meet on the sidelines of the WHA with officials from participating countries and to protest its exclusion from the meetings.

By Yeh Su-ping and Chung Yu-chen