Taiwan’s exclusion from WHA ‘inhumane’: Saint Vincent

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Ambassador to Taiwan Andrea Bowman (CNA)

TAIPEI (CNA) — Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG), one of Taiwan’s diplomatic allies in the Caribbean, has said it is “inhumane” for Taiwan to be excluded from the World Health Assembly (WHA) and called for Taiwan to be allowed to participate in the body’s upcoming online session May 18-19.

In a statement made to CNA Thursday, SVG Ambassador to Taiwan Andrea Bowman said her country has “strongly advocated” Taiwan’s inclusion in the WHA since 2018, and further suggested that Taiwan’s “previously held observer status could be reinstated while full membership is still under consideration.”

“It is inhumane for the health of a country to be the victim of partisan politics, and this seems to be what is taking place with Taiwan’s exclusion from the WHA/WHO,” she said, referring to the World Health Organization, for which the WHA serves as a policy-setting body.

As of Friday, eight of Taiwan’s diplomatic allies and several countries with which Taiwan enjoys close ties, including the United States, Japan and Canada, have called for Taiwan’s inclusion in the upcoming meeting.

On Wednesday, Saint Lucia, also in the Caribbean, announced that its foreign minister had submitted a draft resolution to WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus to allow Taiwan to participate in the meeting as an observer.

That same day, Palau’s diplomatic mission to the United Nations tweeted that the country’s president had “emphasized the need for the Republic of China to be included in the World Health Organization among other international institutions.”

In response to a question about Taiwan on Thursday, WHO Legal Counsel Derek Walton said the WHO secretariat has no authority to make such a decision unilaterally and that it can only be resolved by the 194 WHO member states.

Taiwan, under its formal name, the Republic of China (ROC), was refused entry to the WHA in 1972, when the body voted to recognize the People’s Republic of China as the legitimate representative of China.

Taiwan participated in WHA events as an observer from 2009-2016 under the designation “Chinese Taipei,” when relations between Beijing and Taipei had warmed under the previous ruling party, the Kuomintang, which accepted the concept that the two sides are part of one China, with each side free to interpret what that means.

Since 2017, however, Taiwan has been excluded from the body due to opposition from China, which has objected to Taiwan’s new ruling Democratic Progressive Party’s rejection of that concept.