Taiwan on Friday rejected China’s condition for the island to be able to take part in the World Health Organization, which is that Taiwan accepts it is part of China.
The country has been largely excluded from involvement with the WHO due to pressure from China, which refuses to acknowledge the island’s sovereignty and insists it has the right to represent Taiwan on the international stage. China says Taiwan can only participate under the “one China” principle.
China’s foreign ministry said on Thursday that Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party refused to do this, and so the political foundation for Taiwan’s WHO participation had “ceased to exist”.
Last month, the WHO announced that its decision-making body, the World Health Assembly, will have a virtual meeting from May 18. Taiwan’s foreign ministry earlier complained the government had not yet received an invitation so a delegation could attend as an observer and share the island’s experience in fighting the coronavirus.
Taiwan’s health minister Chen Shih-chung said there was no way Taiwan would accept it is part of China: “I have no way to accept something which does not exist”, Chen said, adding that Taiwan would not give up efforts to attend the health assembly.
Taiwan attended the assembly as an observer from 2009-2016 when Taipei-Beijing relations warmed, but China blocked further participation after the election of Taiwan’s president Tsai Ing-wen. China considers Tsai to be a separatist, charges she strongly denies.
“We can represent our own people. We hope the WHO can set aside political considerations, and be neutral and professional”, Taiwan’s deputy foreign minister Kelly Hsieh said.