Despite global praise for its effective response to the coronavirus pandemic, Taiwandid is not invited to this week’s meeting of a key body of the World Health Organization (WHO), an omission that the Taiwanese authorities and Americans blamed pressure from China.
Taiwan had lobbied to participate in the WHO decision-making body, the World Health Assembly, which opened on Monday, saying that locking it in was to create a vacuum in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
Instead, WHO member states agreed at the start of the assembly to delay a controversial discussion on granting observer status to Taiwan, despite intensified pressure from the United States and others in recent days.
Taiwan said it wanted to share its successful experience in the fight against the coronavirus with the world, having reported only 440 cases and seven deaths thanks to early detection and prevention work.
But China, which considers democratically-ruled Taiwanese as not entitled to attend international forums as a sovereign state, strongly objected to Taiwan’s participation in the assembly unless he accepts that it is part of China, which the Taipei government has refused to do.
“Despite all our efforts and an unprecedented level of international support, Taiwan has received no invitation to participate,” Foreign Minister Joseph Wu told reporters.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs expresses its deep regret and dissatisfaction that the Secretariat of the World Health Organization has yielded to pressure from the Chinese government and continues to disregard the right to health of the 23 million inhabitants of Taiwan, “added Wu.
The Taiwanese presidential office also expressed its anger, saying that the Taiwanese people had “the absolute right” to participate in the international community and that the island would not give in to Chinese pressure.
“We solemnly urge the Secretariat of the World Health Organization to reject Beijing’s inappropriate interference,” presidential office spokesman Alex Huang said at a press conference.
WHO and China say Taiwan has received the aid and information it needs during the pandemic, which Taiwan has strongly disputed.
US criticizes pressure from China
The United States has repeatedly clashed with China over its refusal to allow Taiwan access to the body, helping to fuel tension between Washington and Beijing.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo condemned the WHO’s delay in including Taiwan on Monday, saying it demonstrated that the United States accused the UN body of being indebted to China.
Pompeo said WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who was severely criticized by the administration of President Donald Trump, “had all the powers and legal precedents” to include Taiwan in the meeting.
“However, he chose instead not to invite Taiwan under pressure from the People’s Republic of China,” Pompeo said in a statement.
“The Director-General’s lack of independence deprives the Assembly of Taiwan’s recognized scientific expertise on the pandemic, and further undermines the credibility and effectiveness of WHO at a time when the world has the power to do so. no longer needed, “Pompeo said in a statement.
Taiwan attended the Assembly as an observer from 2009 to 2016, but China blocked all further participation after the election of Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, whom China considers a separatist, an accusation it rejects.
Wu said Taiwan has agreed that the issue of its participation will be postponed until later this year so that the short-circuited assembly can focus on the coronavirus.
“Naturally, countries want to use the limited time they have to focus on how to contain the pandemic,” he said.
“For this reason, like-minded nations and diplomatic allies have suggested that the proposal be considered later this year, when meetings are scheduled to take place, to ensure a full and open debate,” said Wu.
“After careful consideration, we accepted the suggestion of our allies and like-minded countries to wait for the resumption of the session before further promoting our candidacy.”
(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS, AFP)