Ministers express deep regret, dissatisfaction as Taiwan yet to receive invitation to virtual World Health Assembly

From Department of International Organizations, MOFA 2020-05-18

Minister of Foreign Affairs Jaushieh Joseph Wu and Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung expressed the government’s deep regret and dissatisfaction that Taiwan had yet to receive an invitation to take part as an Observer in the 73rd World Health Assembly, which is due to commence at 6 p.m. May 18 Taipei time, at a press conference held the same day at the Central Epidemic Command Center.

Minister Chen pointed out that as disease knows no borders, there should be no gaps in the global disease prevention network, and all members of the international community must work together in combating the COVID-19 pandemic by sharing expertise and information. He said that despite its proximity to China, Taiwan’s number of confirmed cases per million people ranked 154th globally, showing how efficient and effective it has been in containing the spread of the virus. Taiwan is willing and able to share its disease prevention experience with other nations and experts around the world, learning from and helping one another, and Taiwan’s failure to receive an invitation is a loss not only for Taiwan, but for all mankind, he added.

Minister Wu noted that even though Taiwan has not been invited to take part in this year’s WHA, support for Taiwan in the international community has been unprecedentedly strong and widespread. Although diplomatic allies have submitted a proposal to the World Health Organization concerning Taiwan’s participation, the agenda for this year’s WHA has been significantly shortened, and countries want to use the limited time available to concentrate on ways of containing the pandemic, he explained. For this reason, he said, the government had accepted the suggestion from its allies and like-minded nations that its bid be discussed later this year when meetings will be conducted normally, in order to ensure a full and open discussion. He also condemned the two-faced behavior and bullying of the Chinese government, which claims to care for the health and welfare of the Taiwanese people while actually seeking to deprive them of their right to health at every turn by barring Taiwan from participating in international organizations. China’s unreasonable actions toward the Taiwanese people will only increase their revulsion, and strengthen their collective aspiration to participate in international organizations and contribute to the world, he added.

Minister Wu solemnly called upon the WHO Secretariat to listen carefully to the reasonable and resolute calls of the international community, maintain a professional and neutral position, resist interference by the Chinese government, and allow Taiwan to take part in all WHO meetings, mechanisms, and activities.

Minister Wu further emphasized that UN General Resolution 2758 and WHA Resolution 25.1 do not address the issue of Taiwan, nor do they authorize the People’s Republic of China to represent Taiwan. Taiwan is a free and democratic nation, and only its democratically elected government has the right to represent the Taiwanese people in international organizations, he said.

MOFA reiterates that the inclusion of all stakeholders in the global health system will ensure no gaps in epidemic prevention and containment, and fulfill the WHO objectives to Leave No One Behind and provide Health for All. Taiwan has a comprehensive and robust public health and medical system, and the Taiwan Model has successfully contained COVID-19. These results have been clear for all to see, and earned universal praise from the international community. Taiwan’s comprehensive and unconditional participation in WHO would allow us to share information in real time and impart our successful experience of epidemic prevention and containment, benefiting all humanity and creating a win-win-win situation for Taiwan, WHO, and the world. (E)