Taiwan tight-lipped on WHO forum, calls for more inclusion

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO), addresses the media during a press conference at the World Health Organization (WHO) headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, Monday, Feb. 10, 2020 on the situation regarding to the new coronavirus. (Salvatore Di Nolfi/Keystone via AP)

TAIPEI (The China Post/ANN) — Hours before Geneva wakes up to a global research and innovation forum at the World Health Organization (WHO, 世界衛生組織) to which Taiwan has been invited via video-conferencing, the government remained closed-mouth on any details.

Participating countries have signed confidentiality agreements, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA, 外交部) said on Tuesday, under which information shared at the forum will be for attendees’ eyes only.

On the matter of whether Taiwan will attend as “Chinese Taipei,” “Taipei” or any other derivatives international organizations have imposed on the self-ruled country under Chinese pressure, MOFA’s spokesperson Joanne Ou (歐江安) said that negotiation with WHO is undergoing, and that the ministry is fighting for a title that “defends Taiwan’s dignity.”

It all comes down to “exactly what happens when the conference actually takes place,” Ou said, refusing to provide more details, saying that they will be disclosed “when appropriate.”

Ou said that being able to participate in WHO forums online is already “a big step” for Taiwan, though “we are unsatisfied.”

Taiwan was the only country with confirmed 2019-nCoV cases that was not invited to the emergency meetings the WHO held after the epidemic hit several countries in Asia last month.

Taiwan Centers for Disease Control (CDC,疾管署) Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥) told The China Post on Monday (Feb. 10) that the most worrying thing about WHO exclusion is that “we don’t know what we don’t know.”

Taiwan will continue to proactively seek full and timely participation in all WHO meetings and events on the fight against the novel coronavirus, and to attend the World Health Assembly (WHA) as an observer, Ou added.

As for the roster of experts that will attend the forum on behalf of Taiwan, Ou once again maintained secrecy.