Taiwan hopes to sit at World Health Assembly meeting | Coronavirus pandemic news

Taipei, Taiwan – Taiwan and its campaigners are campaigning to see it return as an observer to the World Health Assembly, the governing body of the World Health Organization, which is set to meet from May 24th.

Taiwan’s successful management of COVID-19 for more than a year and a half has brought new attention to Taiwan’s absence from the WHA, which it has yet to attend since the 2016 election of President Tsai Ing-wen.

U.S. lawmakers have repeatedly called for Taiwan to return as an observer in recent years, but this time the G7 is backing Taiwan as a social media coordination campaign this year under the hashtag #LetTaiwanHelp is expanded to bring together legislators from Europe, Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

At the end of April, 16 members of the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC) released a campaign video urging the WHA to invite Taiwan, along with an influx of tweets from lawmakers in Congress in the U.S. and the U.S. State Department.

“In the past, efforts from Congress have focused on sending letters to the WHO or the Executive Branch or to overseas capitals to ask for support for Taiwan’s inclusion. However, this year, there is more public and private as, more closely, approach, ”said Jessica Drun, a non -resident associate with the United States -based Project 2049 Institute.

“It brings in parliamentarians from all over the world – and across party lines. It also organizes the social media platform, generating statements from other leaders as well as public figures and activists,” he said.

Taiwan has begun testing most of the areas identified as hotspots for the island’s unique COVID-19 penetration [Sam Yeh/AFP]

Taiwan’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Tien Chung-kwang said the government will continue to hope for an invitation until the last minute, as the #LetTaiwanHelp hashtag was used to start support and the new #TaiwanIsHelping hashtag to offer donations of oxygen tanks and other medical supplies to hard -hit countries like India.


Yeh Ching-chuan, who attended the WHA in 2009 as an observer when he was still the health minister, said that at the time Taiwan brought about 15 experts to attend science sessions and present the topics including the island’s successful national security program.

“It was a short meeting,” Yeh said.

“The WHA is only two days away and after that there will be scientific meetings, but it is meaningful, to participate. For countries that do not have diplomatic relations with Taiwan, they are still interested in some fields and contacted our experts even if they come back. ”

Medical experts may want to hear from a delegation in Taiwan about how it is managed, and most have a problem, COVID-19.

So far this month, the island has had fewer than 1,200 coronavirus cases and 12 deaths, although the rise in infections in Taipei and New Taipei City is now on the rise following an outbreak linked to a cluster that started a group of China Airlines pilots in May.

Formally known as the Republic of China, Taiwan was originally China’s representative to the WHO and WHA but was expelled from the organizations in 1972, a year after Beijing was formally incorporated into the United Nations.

Taiwan was invited to attend an observer from 2009 to 2016 at a time when China somewhat wanted Ma Ying-jeou’s presidency but that offer was rejected once Tsai took office.

New friends

Since its election, Beijing, which claims to be the ruling island as itself, has pushed to limit Taiwan’s international presence and participation even to non-political organizations such as the WHO and the International Civil Aviation Organization. (ICAO).

The number of countries that Taiwan has maintained formal diplomatic relations with has also declined since Tsai became president – with only 15 states now recognizing Taipei in Beijing.

However, growing fears about China’s influence in Europe also bringing new allies to Taiwan in unlikely places including Lithuania, the Czech Republic and the European Parliament.

Taiwan has not attended the WHA since 2016 following pressure from China. It’s hard to lobbying to attend this year’s sessions [File: Christopher Black/World Health Organization via AFP]

Ahead of the WHA, the Czech Senate passed a unanimous resolution calling for Taiwan’s participation in “all meetings, mechanisms and activities” of the WHO, while Lithuanian and Czech lawmakers sat in the IPAC, together representatives from 10 more European countries.

“Two years ago, Taiwan was not seen as one of the key players in any European Asian strategy or countries. [individual] methods. Clearly this is changing due to developments in Hong Kong, Xinjiang, the coronavirus pandemic, and the U.S. administration targeting the island, ”said Ivana Karásková, a Chinese research associate and a coordinator. in the project of the Association for International Affairs in Prague.

“In terms of practical implications, it may not change the island’s isolation from international organizations and forums but it clearly signals that countries are ready to work with Taiwan.”

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