Monday, April 22, 2024

Taiwan still excluded from WHO

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GENEVA – Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries with diplomatic relations with Taiwan failed on Monday in their efforts for the Asian country to get an invitation to attend the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) annual assembly.

Belize and St Vincent and the Grenadines are among the handful of CARICOM countries that have been very vocal in support of Taipei’s membership despite China regarding the country as a renegade province and instead wants countries to adhere to the “One China” policy.

Belize Health and Wellness Minister, Kevin Bernard, had called for Taiwan to be accredited as an observer for the May 21-30 Assembly.

“The Government of Belize remains committed to the joint efforts led by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and reiterates its support for the inclusion of the Republic of China (Taiwan) as an observer at the 76th WHA to help the fight against COVID-19 and other emerging communicable diseases and share critical genetic sequencing information.

“Belize, therefore, urges the WHO to include Taiwan in all health emergency-related meetings and mechanisms, such as the WHO Hub for Pandemic and Epidemic Intelligence and the Global Influenza Surveillance and Response System (GISRS).”

But when the matter was put to the vote on Monday, China and Pakistan urged members to reject Taiwan’s inclusion.

Taiwan condemned the WHO decision, saying it was “contemptible” of China to block its participation in global bodies and that Beijing had no right to speak for the island.

“Only Taiwan’s democratically elected government can represent Taiwan’s 23 million people in the WHO and other international organisations and protect the health and human rights of the Taiwanese people,” the Foreign Ministry said.

But China welcomed the decision, saying “this fully shows that the one-China principle is the aspiration of the people and the trend of the times in the international community and cannot be challenged in any way”.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a statement said that before the opening of the conference, nearly 100 countries expressed their adherence to the one-China principle and their opposition to Taiwan’s participation in the WHA by means of special letters to the WHO and statements.

“China also urges certain countries not to pretend to be confused, stop politicizing the health issue, stop interfering in China’s internal affairs under the pretext of the Taiwan issue, and stop the erroneous practice of using ‘Taiwan to control China’,” the ministry said.

Taiwan is allowed to attend some technical WHO meetings but said its exclusion from the WHO hindered efforts to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. (CMC)

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