Taiwan chastised the World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday for its “indifference” to Taiwanese people’s health rights and for capitulating to China after the island was denied entry to a WHO decision-making body meeting.
Because of China’s objections, Taiwan is removed from most global organisations, including the WHO. China considers Taiwan to be one of its provinces, not a nation.
Taiwan had been campaigning for observer status at the World Health Assembly, which begins on Monday, with the support of major Western powers. According to the government, no invitation was sent.
In a joint statement from Foreign Minister Joseph Wu and Health Minister Chen Shih-chung, the government said it would continue to seek participation.
“As a professional international health body, the World Health Organization should serve the health and welfare of all humanity and not capitulate to the political interests of a certain member,” Chen said, referring to China.
Wu expressed regret at the “WHO Secretariat’s continued indifference to the health rights of Taiwan’s 23.5 million people”.
China says Taiwan can only take part if it accepts it is part of “one China”, which Taipei’s government will not do, and that only Beijing has a right to speak for Taiwan on the international stage and Taiwan has in any case been given the access it needs during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Taiwan’s statement said China was falsely claiming that appropriate arrangements have been made for Taiwan’s WHO participation, adding that only the island’s democratically elected government can speak for its people.
Taiwan urges the WHO to “maintain a professional and neutral stance, reject China’s political interference, and allow Taiwan to join WHO meetings, mechanisms, and activities in order to protect the welfare of humanity and jointly combat disease”.
The WHO said in an emailed statement that its secretariat works extensively with Taiwan health experts and officials at a technical and scientific level.
“Taiwanese observer ship at the World Health Assembly is a question for the 194 Member States of WHO to consider and decide upon,” it said.