TAIPEI (CNA) — President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) is hoping departing Nauruan Ambassador to Taiwan Chitra Jeremiah will support Taiwan’s goal of one day joining the World Health Organization (WHO) when she assumes her new position as Nauru’s permanent representative to the United Nations (UN) Office at Geneva.
Tsai expressed the hope during a meeting at the Presidential Office in Taipei on June 25 with Jeremiah, who is due to leave Taiwan on Wednesday after serving as her country’s ambassador to Taiwan since July 2016.
“During Ambassador Jeremiah’s tenure, I believe she has fully realized that Taiwan is willing and capable of making contributions to the world,” Tsai said.
Tsai said she hoped that Jeremiah will, after assuming her new position as Nauru’s permanent representative to the U.N.’s Geneva office, support Taiwan’s WHO goal and work to deepen the two nations’ partnership through their joint participation in global affairs.
Taiwan is not a member of the U.N. or its affiliated organizations, including the WHO.
Though the country’s long-term goal has been to join these international bodies, Taiwan has focused its short-term strategy on gaining meaningful participation in U.N.-related bodies, an effort Beijing has moved relentlessly to block, especially in recent years.
Taiwan was invited to participate in the annual World Health Assembly (WHA), the WHO’s policy-making body, as an observer from 2009 to 2016 under the administration of then-President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), who pursued a more conciliatory policy toward China.
Due to Chinese pressure, however, Taiwan has failed to receive an invitation to the WHA since it last attended the gathering just days after Tsai’s inauguration on May 20, 2016.
Tsai said Jeremiah’s dedication to Taiwan-Nauru ties in the more than two years she has served in Taiwan has been apparent to all.
“Not only did she facilitate mutual visits by government officials and private-sector individuals, she also worked to explore mutually beneficial cooperation schemes for both sides,” Tsai said.
She lauded the ambassador, for example, for working closely with Taichung Veterans General Hospital — which signed a memorandum of understanding on medical cooperation with Nauru’s health ministry in 2011 — to ensure good medical care for Nauruan nationals.
Asked Tuesday whether its government has picked Jeremiah’s successor, the Nauru Embassy to Taiwan did not give a direct answer, saying only that they will notify Taiwan’s foreign ministry once relevant procedures are complete.
Nauru, which was admitted to the U.N. in 1999, has spoken up for Taiwan on multiple occasions in the international body. The two countries resumed diplomatic ties in 2005 after they had been severed in 2002 following Nauru’s switch of recognition to Beijing.
By Stacy Hsu