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MAC's Prepared Statement Regarding Taiwan's WHA Bid

  • Date:2005-05-19

Prepared statement recording

May 19, 2005
Mainland Affairs Council

The enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic or social condition.

This is one of the basic principles of the World Health Organization, as stated in the WHO Constitution. After eight long years of attempts, Taiwan is one step closer to realizing the goal of meaningful participation in the WHO when it reached a preliminary conclusion a few hours ago. I, on behalf of the government of Taiwan, would like to express our heartfelt appreciation to our diplomatic allies and many others for the support in the process. But Taiwan’s actual participation is yet to be realized. I would like to call upon the international community for the continuing support, in order for the Taiwanese people to have access to the WHO, just like all other people in the world.

In these years leading up to the newest development in the WHA meeting, the world should not make any mistake from this moment on in regards to the force obstructing the Taiwanese people from attaining assistance from the WHO. China has always been pressuring the world into preventing Taiwan from participating in international organizations, NGOs included, and this year’s case of Taiwan’s attempt to gain the observer status in the General Committee deliberations is no exception.

The Chinese government continues to claim, as the Chinese health minister was quoted saying that “Beijing has always helped Taiwanese medical and public health experts participate in WHO-related activities.” However, the claim conflicts with vivid memory of China’s pressure against the WHO in 2003, when it forced the WHO not to send officials to Taiwan to assess the SARS situation until the WHO officials found it urgently necessary to visit Taiwan. Also, on May 4 this year, merely two weeks ago, China prohibited the WHO from accepting Taiwan’s medical experts and journalists in the tsunami health conference in Phuket. Therefore, the Chinese officials’ claim of taking care of Taiwan’s health needs is simply a shameless lie.

The Chinese officials have cited the visits to Beijing by the two opposition leaders in Taiwan as evidence of China’s sovereignty claim over and goodwill to Taiwan. Therefore, Taiwan does not have the rights to obtain observer status in the World Health Assembly. However, the two opposition leaders do not concur with the way China handled the WHO issue and have refuted the Chinese officials’ statement.

The Chinese health minister also claimed that the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) it signed with the WHO secretariat is a big gift to Taiwan. Taiwanese people have obviously felt otherwise. It should not be mistaken that the memo was designed to prevent Taiwan from attaining assistance from the WHO without subjecting to the political condition that Taiwan is part of the PRC.

The visits by the Taiwanese opposition leaders to China, for a brief moment, gave the international community the impression that Beijing may be willing to reach out to the Taiwanese government pragmatically. However, the recent saga in the World Health Assembly is yet more evidence that China does not seem ready and sincere to realistically and pragmatically deal with Taiwan.

In order for the two sides of the Taiwan Strait to resolve their long-term differences, China must come to the realization that it should no longer anger the Taiwanese people through obstructing Taiwan’s normal participation in international affairs. Taiwan has acted responsibly by steering away from sovereignty issues when it presents its case in the WHA deliberations. China must also act responsibly in reciprocation. Taiwan urges the international community to advise China not to repeatedly increase the tension in the region by trying to suffocate Taiwan on the international stage.

Again, I would like to express the Taiwanese government’s sincere appreciation to the countries that abide by the WHO constitution and have expressed support for Taiwan’s WHO participation either publicly or privately. We will continue to work with the international supporters to ensure that the principle of the WHO is followed through and that Taiwan is no longer excluded.

China's Actions of Suppression against Taiwan