Taiwan to attend to World Health Assembly with or without invite

KYODO NEWS KYODO NEWS - Apr 20, 2017 - 20:38 | World, All

Taiwan will send a delegation to a meeting of the decision-making body of the World Health Organization next month in Geneva, if the self-ruled island does not receive an invitation to participate in the annual gathering, officials said Thursday.

Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung told a legislative committee that Taiwan has not yet received an invitation to the World Health Assembly, scheduled to take place May 22-31, but he hopes it will arrive before online registration ends on May 8.

If it does not arrive, Chen said, he will still lead a delegation to the Swiss city to express Taiwan's position and promote its contributions to the international community.

In the meantime, he said, the government will continue to work with Taiwan's diplomatic allies and other "like-minded" countries to facilitate its continued participation in the international organization.

He was in particular referring to the United States, which in 2015 enacted a law requiring the State Department to develop a strategy to endorse and obtain observer status for Taiwan in certain international organizations, mechanisms, meetings and activities.

Taiwan did not receive a WHA invitation last year until just two weeks before the meeting began and about 10 days before President Tsai Ing-wen of the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party took her oath of office.

Unlike invitations received in previous years, last year's invitation was made in line with the "one-China principle" as reflected in the U.N. General Assembly Resolution 2758 and WHA Resolution 25.1.

Under the former resolution, passed in 1971, Taiwan was removed from the United Nations and the Communist Party-led government in Beijing became the sole representative of China in the world body, while under the latter, Taiwan was expelled from the WHO in 1972.

Despite being angered over what it termed China's "systematic bullying" in the international arena, Taiwan sent its health minister to attend the last WHA meeting.

It has attended WHA meetings as an observer under the name "Chinese Taipei" since 2009, one year after former President Ma Ying-jeou of the Nationalist Party was first elected on the platform of seeking friendlier ties with China.

Tsai's DPP, by contrast, has traditionally been more skeptical of closer ties with China.

Unlike the KMT, the DPP does not recognize the "one China" principle, which holds that Taiwan is a part of China even though the two sides of the Taiwan Strait have been ruled separately since the end of a civil war in 1949.

Beijing said last year that Taiwan's participation in the WHA was a "special arrangement under the "one China' principle" and if that "political foundation" for cross-straits is destroyed, it would be hard to continue such an arrangement.

Apr 20, 2017 | KYODO NEWS