Taiwan again excluded from attending world health body annual meeting as observer

The World Health Organization on Monday announced Taiwan will again be barred from attending its annual assembly as an observer after China and its allies succeeded in blocking the island off mainland China.

After discussing a proposal to admit Taiwan on Sunday as an observer at the World Health Assembly (WHA), a WHO decision-making committee said this would not happen.

The self-governed island is permitted to attend some technical WHO meetings but said its exclusion from the WHO hindered efforts, for example, to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

A delegate from China told the assembly, "The People's Republic of China government is the sole legal government representing the whole of China. Taiwan is an inalienable part of China's territory.

"Any attempt to use the pandemic for Taiwan independence is doomed to fail."

Taiwan's Foreign Ministry described China's action to block its participation as "contemptible."

"Only Taiwan's democratically elected government can represent Taiwan's 23.5 million people in the WHO and other international organizations and protect the health and human rights of the Taiwanese people," said the ministry.

Threatens global health

Taiwan's Health Minister Hsueh Jui-yuan warned Sunday that the island's continued exclusion from the WHO due to China's actions threatens global health.

"Excluding Taiwan from the WHO not only jeopardizes the right to health of the 23.5 million people of Taiwan, it also seriously undermines the WHO's efforts to achieve health for all," and also hinders the global sharing of information, Hsueh said at the Geneva Press Club.

Xavier Becerra, the U.S. health and human services secretary, told the assembly: 'The United States continues to strongly support Taiwan's meaningful participation at the World Health Assembly and in the WHO's work more broadly.'

The WHA limited debate on the matter and later said one its committees decided not to extend Taiwan an invitation to the event.

On Monday, delegates from China and Pakistan were allowed to speak in favor of rejecting Taiwan's inclusion, while eSwatini and the Marshall Islands spoke in its favor.

Separately two reporters from Taiwan's Central News Agency who had been accredited to cover the May 21 to May 30 WHA were told on Monday they would not be allowed to claim their press passes, the CNA reported, saying a UN staff member blamed the move on pressure from China.

Taiwan was expelled from the WHO in 1972, a year after losing the "China" seat at the United Nations to the People's Republic of China.

It was allowed to attend the WHO's top annual meetings between 2009 and 2016 as an observer, but China thwarted its presence afterward after relations faltered.

Source: Anadolu Agency