Using Taiwan question to politicize WHO unwise and useless: experts
Published: Feb 11, 2021 04:25 PM


Taiwan's ineligibility to participate in the World Health Assembly (WHA) is due to the separatist Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) authority, and the radical politicization of the WHO will only intensify cross-Straits conflicts, experts said, after two US Republican lawmakers proposed an act that would withdraw funding from WHO until it replaces its leaders and allow Taiwan’s membership.  

Rick Scott, a GOP Senator in Florida, announced on Tuesday that he and GOP Senator Josh Hawley have introduced a WHO accountability act, which would hold the WHO responsible for its role in helping China “cover up information regarding the threat of the coronavirus.”

Observers believe that the bill is a reenactment of the buck-passing trick adopted in the Trump administration, which blamed WHO and China for the poor COVID-19 handling in the US. 

The Trump administration formally withdrew from the WHO in July 2020, but Biden signed an executive order on his first day as US president to reverse Trump’s decision.

Wang Jianmin, a Taiwan affairs expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Thursday that the views of some radical Republicans are unlikely to guide the Biden administration’s policies, as they are only pressuring Biden to be tougher against China.

On the Taiwan question, there is a bipartisan stance in the US: to use Taiwan as a card to contain the Chinese mainland. 

“The Biden administration also hopes that Taiwan can participate in international organizations and expand its valuable alliance. However, they support Taiwan’s meaningful participation in international organizations without crossing the redline,” Wang said. 

The redline is the one-China principle, which was reaffirmed by the US State Department on February 3.

When the pro-reunification party KMT authority ruled the island (2009-2016), Taiwan participated in the WHA as an observer under the name "Chinese Taipei," which was permitted by the Chinese mainland because the two sides of the Taiwan Straits have the 1992 Consensus that recognized the one-China principle.

Since 2017, after the separatist Democratic Progressive Party took power and abandoned the 1992 Consensus, the cross-Straits relationship has been seriously damaged and the island's authority has lost the right to attend the WHA as an observer. 

Taiwan's participation in the WHA has to be supported by more than half of the WHA members countries. At present, this is difficult due to the politicization by some politicians from the US and the island of Taiwan,” Wang said. 

Amid the raging pandemic, COVID-19 vaccine is also being put under political lens. US pharmaceutical Moderna announced on Tuesday that it will supply Taiwan with 5 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine after reaching an agreement with DPP authorities. Moderna’s vaccine has not yet been approved for emergency use in Taiwan and Moderna said it will start delivery in mid-2021. 

Zhu Fenglian, a spokesperson for the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, said at a press briefing on January 27 that the DPP authorities on the island of Taiwan have created political obstacles for the use of Chinese mainland vaccines. 

"The head of Taiwan's pandemic response agency has repeatedly said that mainland vaccines will not be used, so there are obstacles to this issue indeed, mainly political ones," Zhu said.