TAIPEI, Taiwan, (MOFA) – Taiwan has not been invited to attend the virtual 74th World Health Assembly (WHA), which commenced on May 24, as an observer.
Minister of foreign affairs Jaushieh Joseph Wu and minister of health and welfare Chen Shih-chung, issued a joint protest expressing the Taiwan government’s deep displeasure and asserted the firm determination of the government and people of Taiwan to continue to seek participation in the WHA. They also expressed sincere appreciation for the strong support from the international community this year for Taiwan’s bid to participate in the WHA.
Minister Chen stated that this year’s WHA remains focused on the response to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as building a healthier, safer, and fairer world together. The recent escalation of the pandemic in Taiwan further shows that viruses know no borders. Taiwan cannot remain on the sidelines, and there should not be a gap in global disease prevention. The world needs to share all available information and expertise in a collective fight against disease. Taiwan has not received an invitation to attend the WHA is not only a loss for Taiwan but also the rest of the world. Health is a basic human right and a universal value. As a professional international health body, the World Health Organization (WHO) should serve the health and welfare of all humanity and not capitulate to the political interests of a certain member.
Minister Wu expressed regret at the WHO Secretariat’s continued indifference to the health rights of Taiwan’s 23.5 million people. By disregarding the calls for justice from the international community to allow Taiwan to contribute to global public health and medicine, WHO not only contravenes the lofty promise of leaving no one behind that the United Nations system repeatedly emphasizes, but also deprives other countries of the benefits of Taiwan’s extensive public health and antipandemic experience. The government of Taiwan expresses strong displeasure with WHO’s decision.
China has continued to falsely claim that appropriate arrangements have been made for Taiwan’s participation in WHO. This wholly deviates from reality, contradicts international understanding, and violates the will of the Taiwanese people. The People’s Republic of China has never governed Taiwan, yet it continues to make distorted interpretations of UN General Assembly Resolution 2758 and World Health Assembly Resolution 25.1, repeatedly misleading the international community.
The ministry of foreign affairs strongly reiterates that only the popularly elected government of Taiwan can represent the 23.5 million Taiwanese people in WHO and other international organizations. It urges WHO to maintain a professional and neutral stance, reject China’s political interference, and allow Taiwan to join WHO meetings, mechanisms, and activities in order to protect the welfare of humanity and jointly combat disease.
Taiwan’s efforts to participate in WHO have gained momentum over the years, garnering widespread support. The severity of the pandemic has made countries understand the importance, urgency, and need for Taiwan to be incorporated into WHO. International support for Taiwan’s participation in the WHA has been stronger, more direct, and more diverse this year.
Countries have asserted that no gap should be allowed in the global public health and disease prevention system and that Taiwan must be permitted to participate in the WHA. They also recognize that Taiwan is able to contribute to global public health and have jointly urged WHO to let Taiwan help so that the world may benefit from Taiwan’s professional experience.
In an unprecedented move, the G7 foreign ministers issued a communiqué that included an explicit endorsement of Taiwan’s meaningful participation in WHO and the WHA. This is highly significant.
Government leaders or high-level officials of diplomatic allies as well as Japan, Sweden, Canada, Belgium, and the United States have also publicly expressed their staunch support for Taiwan. Backing from national parliaments across the globe has reached unprecedented heights. The French Senate, Danish Parliament, and Slovak parliament’s foreign affairs committee have all passed resolutions friendly to Taiwan. Several Formosa Clubs, which are influential interparliamentary groups that seek to advance Taiwan’s cause, have been established in regions around the world—most notably in Europe, where over 1,000 members of parliaments from more than 30 countries sent a joint letter to the WHO director-general.
Furthermore, the US Congress launched an innovative social media campaign with the hashtag #LetTaiwanHelp, gaining an enthusiastic response from interparliamentary organizations and over 250 legislators and high-level officials from more than 50 countries. In coordination with this campaign, the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC), which has previously spoken up for Taiwan, released a video statement featuring 16 IPAC co-chairs and members from 11 national parliaments and the European parliament calling for Taiwan’s participation in WHO. Additionally, in a show of professional support, the internationally renowned World Medical Association passed a resolution backing Taiwan’s participation in the WHA.
The magnitude of support that Taiwan has received this year bears testament to the fact that the international community recognizes the legitimacy of Taiwan’s participation in WHO.
The government of Taiwan, in accordance with the aspirations of its 23.5 million people, will continue to seek assistance from diplomatic allies, like-minded nations, and other friendly countries as it bids to participate in WHO and the WHA, so that Taiwan can contribute its expertise and join in global endeavors to promote the health and safety of humankind.