President thanks Abe, Trudeau for WHO bid support amid coronavirus outbreak

President Tsai Ing-wen (right) speaks at a press conference on Jan. 30, 2020. (CNA)
President Tsai Ing-wen (right) speaks at a press conference on Jan. 30, 2020. (CNA)

TAIPEI (The China Post/ANN) — President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) thanked the leaders of Japan and Canada in an address to the nation on Thursday for supporting Taiwan’s participation in the World Health Organization (WHO, 世界衛生組織) as the novel coronavirus continues to spread globally.

Earlier that day, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told the country’s national councilors in an upper house meeting that it is necessary for Taiwan to join the specialized agency of the United Nations that is concerned with international public health.

Abe reportedly said that “under the premise of epidemic prevention and public health policies, political stances should be overruled. Otherwise, maintaining the health of the entire region and further preventing the spread of infection will become a difficult problem.”

Japan: Flight readied for Japanese to come home from Wuhan
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, center, speaks to reporters at his official residence in Tokyo Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020. Abe said he is making arrangements to fly Japanese people home from the Chinese city of Wuhan, hit by an outbreak of a new virus recently. (Mizuki Ikari/Kyodo News via AP)

Similarly, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told his parliament on Wednesday that “we support Taiwan’s meaningful participation in the international multilateral forum especially when it’s presence provides important contributions to the global public good.”

“We believe that Taiwan’s role as an observer in World Health Assembly meetings is in the best interest of the international health community,” he added.

In response to media inquiries, Joanne Ou (歐江安), spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told reporters that Abe’s speech highlights the criticality and urgency of Taiwan’s participation in WHO and that Taipei and Ottawa will continue their partnership and collaboration.

The Taiwan government has called upon WHO to invite the self-ruled island to join the emergency meeting on the novel coronavirus set to take place on Thursday and take part in the organization as an observer.

As of Thursday, Taiwan is still excluded from direct participation at the WHO assembly meetings despite being on the front line of the coronavirus outbreak. The country has so far reported eight confirmed cases of novel pneumonia.

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