Taiwan Urges WHO to Allow Full Participation Ahead of Key Summit

Taiwan Urges WHO to Allow Full Participation Ahead of Key Summit

Taiwan Foreign Minister Joseph Wu calls on the WHO to allow Taiwan’s participation in all meetings, citing the organization’s goal of “Health for All,” despite China’s objections.

Taiwan Foreign Minister Joseph Wu urged the World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday to permit the island to attend all its meetings if it truly aims for “Health for All,” ahead of a crucial summit that Taipei wishes to join. Taiwan is barred from most international organizations due to opposition from China, which claims the democratically governed island as its territory.

Taiwan participated in the WHO’s World Health Assembly (WHA) as an observer from 2009 to 2016 under then-President Ma Ying-jeou, who fostered significant trade and tourism agreements with China. However, Beijing began obstructing Taiwan’s involvement in 2017 after President Tsai Ing-wen took office and refused to accept China’s stance that both China and Taiwan are part of “one China.”

On Monday, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office attributed Taiwan’s exclusion from the WHA to the ruling party’s actions, citing a “lack of a political basis.” Taiwan’s government asserts that Beijing has no authority to represent Taiwan on the international stage.

Addressing lawmakers at parliament, Wu stated that the WHO’s director general should proactively invite Taiwan to attend this month’s WHA as an observer. The WHO should also “let Taiwan fully participate in all the WHO’s meetings, activities, and systems, to put into effect the WHO’s charter that health is a basic human right and achieve at an early date the ‘Health for All’ goal,” he added.

Wu further told reporters that Taiwan faces a “very high level of difficulty” in joining this year’s WHA but noted increasing international support for its bid to be invited. Earlier this month, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed strong encouragement for the WHO to reinstate Taiwan’s invitation.

This year’s WHA begins on May 27, just a week after Taiwan president-elect Lai Ching-te assumes office. China harbors a strong aversion to Lai, considering him a “dangerous separatist” and has dismissed his repeated calls for dialogue.

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