World Health Assembly opens, Taiwan left out

By Yang Sheng Source:Global Times Published: 2017/5/23 0:13:40

Mainland protects Taiwan’s health affairs in WHO, experts say

Photo: CGTN

Delegates of World Health Organization (WHO) member states are gathering in Geneva for the 70th World Health Assembly (WHA), which opened on Monday, with Taiwan failing to be invited this year.

Taiwan sent a delegation to participate in the WHA as an observer under the former Kuomintang administration which recognizes that both Taiwan and the Chinese mainland belong to one China.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a press conference on Monday that the WHA is attended by sovereign countries, and that without recognizing being part of China, Taiwan could not participate in the event.

The Chinese delegation held a press conference in Geneva on Sunday, where Li Bin, head of the delegation and minister of national health and the family planning commission, reaffirmed that the cross-Straits 1992 Consensus centered on the one-China principle as a prerequisite for Taiwan's participation.

Li said that during 2009 and 2016 the Chinese mainland made a special arrangement for Taiwan to attend the WHA under "Chinese Taipei" in accordance with the 1992 Consensus.

Since Tsai Ing-wen of the Democratic Progressive Party took office last year, the DPP has shunned recognizing the 1992 Consensus, which made it "impossible to carry out any cross-Straits consultations for special arrangements," Li said.

Taiwan's "minister of health and welfare" Chen Shih-chung held a press conference in Geneva on Monday, criticizing the Chinese mainland for what he said was hampering the Taiwan people's right to receive health information. He said the mainland talks about "politics over health."

However, experts say Taiwan's health affairs will not be affected whether or not Taiwan attends the WHA, as non-official communication on health affairs between the Chinese mainland and Taiwan has not been impacted. The WHO has been sending information and assistance to Taiwan through the mainland since 2003, said Yu Keli, director of the Institute of Taiwan Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

"The DPP administration is playing the role of a political victim to gain sympathy," Yu said.

During the press conference, Li reiterated the stand of China's central government on safeguarding Taiwan's public health interests, and also denied the existence of an "epidemic prevention gap" in Taiwan. Li said that proper arrangements have been made on the basis of the one-China principle for Taiwan to participate in global health affairs and to conduct exchanges on epidemics and other health issues with WHO medical and public health experts.

Through consultations with the WHO, the central government has also made proper arrangements for the application of the International Health Regulations in Taiwan, she said, so Taiwan "can access the information on public health emergencies released by the WHO."

There have been cross-Straits deals and exchanges in the public health fields, including epidemic prevention and treatment, drug safety management and research, and traditional Chinese medicine development, with cooperation mechanisms built on responses to public health emergencies.

From May 8-11, 11 countries that have maintained "diplomatic relations" with Taiwan sent proposals to WHO director-general Margaret Chan for a supplementary agenda item, "Inviting Taiwan to participate in the World Health Assembly as an observer," according to the WHO's website.

Yu said that the DPP administration always spends huge amounts of money to buy support from its allies, not only at the WHA but also at the UN Assembly every year.

These political shows only serve the DPP's own interests, since "it can show to 'Taiwan-independence fundamentalists' in Taiwan that the DPP is being tough to the Chinese mainland and firmly fights for 'Taiwan independence,'" Yu said.


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