The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of China (Taiwan) expresses sincere appreciation for the unprecedented level of support extended to Taiwan’s campaign for participation in the World Health Organization by diplomatic allies and like-minded nations at the 146th session of the WHO Executive Board, which was held from February 3 to 8 at WHO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.
The strong support for Taiwan came in the wake of the rapid spread of the novel coronavirus outbreak (2019-nCoV), which originated in Wuhan, China. This outbreak, which WHO has declared a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC), has elicited close attention and serious concern among countries worldwide and further underlined the legitimacy and urgency of Taiwan’s appeal for WHO participation.
Diplomatic allies of Taiwan, including Eswatini, Paraguay, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Nauru, Saint Christopher and Nevis, and the Marshall Islands, staunchly backed Taiwan’s WHO participation at the EB meeting. Speaking from a professional healthcare perspective, representatives of these diplomatic allies thanked Taiwan for cooperating with their countries in healthcare, affirmed Taiwan’s contributions, and demanded that WHO include Taiwan in the global disease prevention network.
Furthermore, the Honduran National Congress, Foreign Ministry, and Foreign Minister Lisandro Rosales; President of the ROC (Taiwan)-Nicaragua Parliamentary Group of Friendship José Figueroa; the Paraguayan Foreign Ministry and Health Minister Julio Mazzoleni; Saint Christopher and Nevis Prime Minister Timothy Harris and Foreign Minister Mark Brantley; and Haitian Foreign Minister Bocchit Edmond also expressed support for Taiwan’s campaign through resolutions, statements, or social media messages.
Even though Taiwan’s diplomatic allies Belize, Saint Lucia, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines did not dispatch representatives to the EB meeting, they used different ways to offer public support. Saint Lucian Prime Minister Allen Chastanet instructed his government to issue a statement calling on WHO to ensure Taiwan’s full participation in international consultation, planning, and decision-making with regard to the 2019-nCoV outbreak. Meanwhile, Belizean Foreign Minister Wilfred Elrington, the Press Office of the Belizean cabinet, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Health Minister Luke Browne respectively produced a short video, press release, and social media post urging WHO to include Taiwan.
Among like-minded partners, the United States, Japan, Germany (representing the 27 member states of the European Union), the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and Belgium spoke up in favor of Taiwan at the EB meeting, or echoed Taiwan’s appeal for participation by stressing the importance of inclusiveness and ensuring that no gaps exist in the global disease prevention network. Ambassador Andrew Bremberg, US Permanent Representative to the UN Office at Geneva, explicitly said that WHO should present public health data on Taiwan and engage directly with Taiwan public health authorities on actions.
In recent weeks, US Health Secretary Alex Azar II, senior officials of the US Department of State, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and the European External Action Service have voiced support for Taiwan’s participation in WHO. In addition, the US, Japanese, Australian, and Canadian representative offices in Taiwan, as well as many parliamentarians from friendly nations and regions such the United States, Japan, Canada, the EU, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Finland, Sweden, Luxembourg, Spain, Italy, Slovakia, Mexico, Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, and Venezuela, have conveyed firm backing for Taiwan.
In particular, seven key US Senators including Cory Gardner (R-CO), Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy; eight members of the European Parliament from different parties including Michael Gahler, Chair of the EP-Taiwan Friendship Group; and 10 senior Italian parliamentarians including Senator Lucio Malan, President of the Italy-Taiwan Parliamentary Friendship Group, respectively sent joint letters to WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus calling on WHO to invite Taiwan as an Observer.
Faced with such expressions of support in favor of Taiwan by many of Taiwan’s diplomatic allies and like-minded nations, China repeatedly used its right of reply to rehash the “one China principle” and falsely stated that Taiwan had been fully informed of 2019-nCoV developments through cross-strait exchanges and WHO, in a shameful attempt to mislead international audiences and suppress Taiwan’s full involvement in international public health and disease prevention networks. US representatives even directly rebutted China’s statements by reiterating that the US position would not change and calling on related countries to refrain from being political in exercising their right of reply. Taiwan’s diplomatic ally Guatemala, meanwhile, firmly stated that Taiwan was a key partner in the field of healthcare and reiterated that Taiwan should not be excluded during public health emergencies.
Participating in WHO is the common aspiration of all people of Taiwan. Through the persistent and collective efforts of Taiwan’s government and civil society, international support and media attention for Taiwan’s campaign have increased considerably every year. MOFA will continue to strengthen cooperation with the Ministry of Health and Welfare and other related government agencies, as well as civic associations and overseas compatriot organizations, in further promoting Taiwan’s cause. MOFA also encourages individuals and associations who support Taiwan’s WHO participation to urge WHO, in a reasonable manner, to assist Taiwan with gaining full participation in global public health and disease prevention networks. And MOFA once again calls on WHO to uphold medical professionalism, take into account the wellbeing of all mankind, reject political prejudice, and invite Taiwan as soon as possible to take part in this year’s World Health Assembly as an Observer and fully participate in WHO meetings, mechanisms, and events, including all meetings related to disease prevention. (E)