Taiwan’s chances of attending WHA in May slim: MOFA

Bob Chen (陳龍錦)

TAIPEI (CNA) — Taiwan’s chances of receiving an invitation to attend the World Health Assembly (WHA) in May are slim, but it will continue to do its best to rally international support, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) official said Monday.

The WHA, the decision-making body of the World Health Organization (WHO), is scheduled to hold its annual event in Geneva in May.

According to the ministry’s latest evaluation, Taiwan once again may not be invited to the annual WHA, said Bob Chen (陳龍錦), director-general of MOFA’s Department of International Organizations.

Due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, the annual meeting could be held online and the foreign ministry is still doing whatever it can to make Taiwan’s inclusion possible, Chen told lawmakers at a legislative Foreign and National Defense Committee hearing Monday.

Taiwan continues to seek the support of its diplomatic allies and other friendly countries such as the United States to obtain an invitation to this year’s WHA, according to Chen.

He was asked by opposition Kuomintang (KMT) lawmakers to evaluate Taiwan’s chances of participating in this year’s annual event in Geneva after WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on April 8 claimed that Taiwan is behind a campaign of personal attacks against him.

Speaking at the legislature, deputy foreign minister Hsu Szu-chien (徐斯儉) denied the accusations, stressing that MOFA absolutely did not instigate anyone to do what Tedros has claimed.

Taiwan participated in the WHA as an observer under the name Chinese Taipei from 2009 to 2016 amid better relations with China during the Kuomintang administration of that time, which prioritized reducing tension and building friendlier ties with Beijing.

Since 2017, however, China has refused permission for the WHO to invite Taiwan, in line with Beijing’s hardline stance on cross-Taiwan Strait relations after President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) of the Democratic Progressive Party took office in May 2016.