Taiwan blames China for absence from UN health meeting

Tsai Ing-wen: Taiwan’s first female president

China is disregarding the health of the people of Taiwan by blocking the island’s participation in the annual World Health Assembly (WHA) due to hold in Geneva, Switzerland later this month, the Taiwan government said.

The WHA is due to hold from May 21 to May 26.

Taiwan’s China policy-making body said late on Monday the exclusion of Taiwan from the WHA for a second consecutive year showed Beijing’s lack of will to improve relations.

“China’s use of its one-sided political stance, and persistence in suppressing and blocking our participation in the WHA, disregards Taiwan people’s health safety rights,” the island’s Mainland Affairs Council said in a statement.

“Our government expresses its strong condemnation at this unreasonable action,” the council said.

Taiwan is one of China’s most sensitive issues.

The island is claimed by Beijing as its sacred territory and China has never renounced the use of force to bring under Chinese control what it considers to be a wayward province.

Taiwan is not a member of the United Nations, which recognizes the “one China” policy centered on Beijing, and it does not formally take part in UN meetings.

Taiwan has, however, in the past been given observer status at some conferences with Beijing’s acquiescence.

But ties between the mainland and the island have worsened since the 2016 election of Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, of the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) who – unlike the island’s previous China-friendly administration – has not acknowledged the “one China” principle.

In 2017, Taiwan blamed China for not being given observer status for the WHA meeting.

It said health should not be politicised and barring Taiwan put the health of its people and the world’s health safety net at risk.

China’s foreign ministry said that Taiwan’s governing party only had itself to blame for the exclusion because it did not abide by the one-China principle.

“Taiwan’s inability to get an invitation completely lies with the fault of the DPP authorities,” the ministry said in a statement.

As it did in 2017, Taiwan will send a delegation to Geneva to argue its case and seek meetings with officials from attending countries and organisations.

Taiwan foreign ministry spokesman Andrew H.C. Lee said the delegation “will work together to push the work further and strive until the last minute”.

He said more than 10 friends and like-minded countries supported Taiwan’s request and would raise the issue. at the meeting.

From 2009 to 2016, Taiwan participated in WHA meetings as an observer, under the name ‘Chinese Taipei’, a special arrangement that was agreed on by both sides during Taiwan’s more China-friendly Ma Ying-jeou administration.