President urges Taiwan’s full participation in WHO

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文)

TAIPEI (CNA) — President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) on Thursday rebutted a claim by the World Health Organization that it has been maintaining regular technical exchanges with Taiwan and reiterated the need for the country to have “comprehensive” participation in the health body.

During an interview after inspecting a labor ministry project, Tsai said that 13-point statement by WHO spokesperson Tarik Jasarevic proved that Taiwan can only participate in WHO activities “partially” on a case-by-case basis.

Tsai said that based on Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) records, Taiwan was only allowed to attend 57 of the 187 WHO technical meetings in which it applied to participate between 2009 and 2019, representing a rejection rate of 70 percent.

“We do not deserve this kind of treatment. We should be allowed comprehensive participation and two-way interaction with the WHO,” Tsai said, adding that Taiwan can also contribute by providing information to the WHO and its members.

The WHO statement cited 13 examples to demonstrate that it has maintained regular technical exchanges with Taiwanese health authorities over several decades.

The statement was issued after the New York Times published an ad sponsored by over 26,000 Taiwanese private citizens aimed at calling global attention to Taiwan’s plight of being isolated from the WHO and to tell the world that Taiwan can help in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

Meanwhile, MOFA said in a statement Thursday that U.N. General Assembly Resolution 2758 should not be cited as a basis for keeping Taiwan out the world health body.

“U.N. General Assembly Resolution 2758 and World Health Assembly Resolution 25.1 only dealt with the issue of China’s representation and did not say Taiwan is part of China,” MOFA noted, stressing that the two resolutions did not settle the issue of the participation of Taiwan in the U.N. and did not authorize the People’s Republic of China to represent Taiwan in the U.N.

On Wednesday, Bob Chen (陳龍錦), chief of MOFA’s department of international organizations, said in a press conference that the listing of Taiwan as part of China in WHO epidemic reports showed that Taiwan “has a long way to go” in its efforts to fully participate in the WHO and its activities.

Chen expressed regret that WHO’s Western Pacific regional office has been refusing to engage with Taiwan and has never provide any health-related information to the island.

MOFA also denied Beijing’s claims that the Taiwanese people initiated personal attacks against WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, saying that those attacks came from Chinese “cyber warriors” pretending to be Taiwanese, citing a probe by Taiwan’s Bureau of Investigation.

MOFA also stressed that China’s political maneuvering cannot erase the fact that its cover-up of coronavirus in the early stages has costs thousands of lives around the world.