US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo on Monday condemned Taiwan’s exclusion from the World Health Assembly (WHA), while President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday lodged a strong protest against the WHO for not inviting Taiwan.
Twenty-two nations voiced support for Taiwan’s bid for participation on the first day of the assembly’s two-day virtual meeting, but despite the global community’s unprecedentedly strong support for Taiwan, it remained blocked from the assembly, with WHO member states on Monday agreeing to delay discussion on Taiwan until later this year.
Pompeo, who on May 6 urged WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus to invite Taiwan to the WHA, condemned the WHO for excluding Taiwan under pressure from Beijing.
Photo: David Chang, EPA-EFE
“No one disputes that Taiwan has mounted one of the world’s most successful efforts to contain the pandemic to date... This should not be a surprise. Transparent, vibrant, and innovative democracies like Taiwan always respond faster and more effectively to pandemics than do authoritarian regimes,” he said in a statement.
“WHO’s Director-General Tedros had every legal power and precedent to include Taiwan in WHA’s proceedings. Yet, he instead chose not to invite Taiwan under pressure from the People’s Republic of China [PRC],” Pompeo said. “The director-general’s lack of independence deprives the assembly of Taiwan’s renowned scientific expertise on pandemic disease, and further damages the WHO’s credibility and effectiveness at a time when the world needs it the most.”
“The PRC’s spiteful action to silence Taiwan exposes the emptiness of its claims to want transparency and international cooperation to fight the pandemic, and makes the difference between China and Taiwan ever more stark,” Pompeo said.
Tsai yesterday said that she wanted to lodge a strong protest, because it was regrettable that the WHO Secretariat succumbed to political pressure and once again refused to invite Taiwan to attend this year’s WHA.
“Political factors should not be put above the human right to health,” she said.
Taiwan is very willing to share its disease prevention experience with the world, so excluding Taiwan from the WHA is against global common interests, she said.
“The WHO Secretariat might have succumbed to political pressure, but Taiwan will not give up on participating in international affairs just because it is being suppressed,” Tsai said. “We will continue to make efforts for the world to see Taiwan.”
Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Joanne Ou (歐江安) yesterday told a news briefing in Taipei that China should explain where the novel coronavirus originated and allow foreign experts to investigate the route of virus transmission.
That would be more meaningful than just donating money, she said, referring to Chinese President Xi Jinping’s (習近平) pledge during his address to the WHA on Monday to provide US$2 billion over two years to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic fallout.
That Tedros invited Xi to give a speech at the opening of the assembly demonstrated their close relationship, Ou said.
Delegates from 12 of Taiwan’s diplomatic allies, as well as the US and Japan, voiced support for Taiwan on Monday, even though they only had two minutes each to speak, she said.
Delegates from the UK, France, Australia, Canada, Germany, New Zealand and the Czech Republic emphasized the “inclusiveness” of all stakeholders, which echoed Taiwan’s appeals, while the Sovereign Military Order of Malta said in a statement that many countries, including Taiwan, had helped it contain the disease, Ou said.
Taiwan’s diplomatic allies have tendered proposals backing its participation in the WHA, which might be discussed when the WHO resumes its session later this year, tentatively scheduled for October or November, she added.
Additional reporting by Lee I-chia
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