Taiwan urges WHO to review restrictions on its participation

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TAIPEI (CNA) — The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) has urged the World Health Organization (WHO) to review what it described as the WHO’s “unfair restrictions” on Taiwan at a time when the world is struggling with the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

The ministry was responding to a rare WHO statement dated March 29 that directly mentioned the issue of Taiwan’s desire to participate in the organization and cited instances in which it has not left Taiwan alone in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The question of Taiwanese membership in WHO is up to WHO Member States, not WHO staff,” The WHO statement said.

“However, WHO is working closely with all health authorities who are facing the current coronavirus pandemic, including Taiwanese health experts,” the statement said.

MOFA said in a statement Monday night that while Taiwan and the WHO have established contact points under the International Health Regulations (IHR), Taiwan in most cases provides information unilaterally that is not shared by the WHO to other countries.

The ministry lamented that Taiwan cannot participate in the Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network (GOARN), a network established by the WHO to respond rapidly to outbreaks of international importance, and has no access to timely information through that system.

According to MOFA, Taiwan has applied to attend 187 WHO technical meetings from 2009 to 2019, but received approval only 57 of the time, representing a rejection rate of 70 percent.

“This indicates that when handling Taiwan’s participation in its technical meetings, WHO continues to restrict Taiwan for political reasons,” MOFA said.

“Taiwan calls on the WHO Secretariat to continue to reevaluate the unfair restrictions it has imposed on Taiwan based on political considerations,” the ministry urged, citing support for Taiwan’s participation in the international community.

Taiwan, under its formal name, the Republic of China, was a founding member of the WHO. However, it was kicked out of the United Nations-affiliated organization in May 1972 after the U.N. formally recognized the Beijing government as the only legitimate representative of China seven months earlier.

It has not been a member of the United Nations or the WHO since then.

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