Why is Taiwan excluded from the WHO?
Channel News Asia
WHY IS TAIWAN SHUT OUT?
Taiwan – officially the Republic of China – was a founding member of the WHO when the global health body was created in 1948. But it was expelled in 1972 a year after losing the “China” seat at the United Nations to the People’s Republic of China. Beijing views Taiwan as its own territory and has vowed to one day seize it, by force if necessary. It balks at any international recognition of Taiwan as a sovereign nation and in recent years has ramped up economic, diplomatic and military pressure on the island. Keeping it shut out of international bodies like the WHO is part of that campaign.
WHY DOES TAIWAN’S EXCLUSION MATTER?
Taiwan and its supporters argue it is unfair to exclude 23 million Taiwanese from the world’s health body, especially during such a huge health crisis. They also say global leaders and doctors could learn from the island’s expertise in combatting the virus.
“No one should be treated as an orphan in the health network that the WHA should look after,” Taiwan Vice President Chen Chien-jen, a US-trained epidemiologist, told reporters on Thursday. “The WHO attaches too much importance to politics and forgets about its professionalism and neutrality,” he added.Taiwan’s exclusion has also raised questions about Beijing’s influence over the WHO.
WHAT DOES THE WHO SAY?
WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has said Taiwan’s participation can only be decided by member states with the consent of “the relevant government” – a reference to Beijing. WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has said Taiwan’s participation can only be decided by member states with the consent of ‘the relevant government’ – a reference to Beijing. He rejects the notion that the body has been too deferential to Beijing under his tenure. WHO officials say they are in regular contact with Taiwan and that Taiwanese officials are often included in technical meetings. Taiwan has countered that it was previously invited to attend the WHA “at the discretion” of the then director general.
It says Tedros has a public health obligation to stand up to Beijing’s blacklisting of the island. The WHO later said an invite can be given by Tedros if a consensus existed between member states, which it does not.
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