After years of unrelenting efforts by the government of Taiwan and civil society, Taiwan’s bid for World Health Organization participation is gaining an increasing amount of international support. As this momentum builds, it highlights the fact that Taiwan’s commitment to a professional, pragmatic, and constructive approach to its WHO bid is the correct one.
Taiwan’s 2020 bid for WHO participation met with unusual circumstances: COVID-19 poses serious threats to the lives, health, and wellbeing of humankind, but it has also been a turning point for Taiwan’s WHO bid. Taiwan has successfully prevented and contained COVID-19. This approach, known as the Taiwan Model, has garnered international acclaim and has made it all the more clear to the international community just how vital and urgent Taiwan’s participation in WHO is. Diplomatic allies of Taiwan and like-minded nations have voiced unprecedented support for Taiwan’s WHO bid, for which MOFA is deeply grateful and heartened.
As of May 15 the administrations of 29 countries had expressed support for Taiwan’s WHO bid in numerous ways, including through letters, consultations, responses to parliamentary questions and media inquiries, public statements, and social media posts. In addition to the supportive proposal raised by Taiwan’s diplomatic allies in WHO, an increasing number of high-ranking officials from like-minded nations have also publicly voiced support for Taiwan. Among them are Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who both, for the first time ever, publicly backed Taiwan’s bid for observer status in the World Health Assembly. Moreover, the legislators and parliamentarians of 43 nations and regions have expressed strong support for Taiwan in myriad ways, including through letters to WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus from over 600 prominent political figures calling for Taiwan’s participation in WHO. Furthermore, 90 members of the Parliament of Canada and more than 100 members of the European Parliament sent letters to the Canadian government and the European Union, respectively, strongly promoting substantive support for Taiwan. The Formosa Club, a multinational platform created by 10 Latin American countries, also sent letters to WHO Director-General Tedros, arguing for Taiwan’s participation in the WHA.
This year, the United States has been assisting Taiwan in a variety of ways, highlighting the strong ties between Taiwan and the US and its staunch support for Taiwan’s participation in the international arena. This March, President Trump signed the Taiwan Allies International Protection and Enhancement Initiative (TAIPEI Act), which was passed unanimously by both houses of Congress. The US Senate also recently passed a bill that requires the Secretary of State to present a report on helping Taiwan participate in WHO. US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar have publicly reiterated their support for Taiwan’s participation in the WHA as an observer, calling on other countries to show their support as well. The Department of State and the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT/T) have launched creative social media campaigns, posting “#TweetforTaiwan” and “#WHACountdown” hashtags on Twitter and writing a series of Facebook posts to garner support for Taiwan’s cause. The US Mission to the United Nations and the US Mission to the United Nations in Geneva have also been backing Taiwan’s participation in the WHA on their official Twitter accounts. The leaders of the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and the House Foreign Affairs Committee sent a joint letter to the governments of 55 countries asking them to support Taiwan. Cochairpersons of the bipartisan Congressional Taiwan Caucus, in conjunction with 203 members of Congress, sent a joint letter to WHO Director-General Tedros, urging him to support Taiwan’s participation in WHO.
This year, Taiwan’s bid to participate in WHO has not only gained the support of governments and political leaders worldwide, it has also been reported on by the media of over 60 countries in more than 1,800 articles, commentaries, columns, and op-eds, demonstrating the strong international support and growing momentum for Taiwan’s cause.
MOFA notes that the substantial global support Taiwan has received this year clearly illustrates the international community’s broad recognition of Taiwan’s legitimate right to participate in WHO. Unfortunately, China continues to abuse its influence in the international arena, improperly exerting pressure on WHO member states. And the WHO Secretariat has failed to maintain a professional and neutral stance, rendering it extremely difficult for Taiwan to participate in WHO this year. The COVID-19 pandemic continues to ravage the globe, stressing the importance of the United Nations goal to “leave no one behind.” Disease knows no borders and does not discriminate. All members of the international community must stand together to successfully combat COVID-19. MOFA calls on WHO to listen carefully to the strong and righteous voice of the international community, which is demanding a professional and neutral stance from WHO and rejecting political interference and manipulation. Taiwan must be allowed to participate fully in WHO and promptly be invited to all WHA meetings, mechanisms, and activities. Only then will the dangerous gaps in the global public health and disease prevention networks be resolved and the WHO’s goal of “Health for All” be realized. (E)