Taiwan continues efforts to secure WHA participation

Taipei--The Ministry of Foreign Affairs reiterated on Sunday its ongoing efforts to secure an invitation for Taiwan to attend this year's World Health Assembly (WHA) as an observer, declaring the country's desire to make a contribution to the promotion of public health worldwide.

In a statement, the ministry said Taiwan will make every effort to solicit the support of foreign allies and countries that share similar ideas in the hope that it will be invited to attend the 2017 WHA in May.

Taiwan wants to "continue to attend (the annual gathering) in a pragmatic and meaningful way and to make a contribution," the ministry said.

The statement came in the wake of media reports indicating Taiwan may not receive an invitation from the World Health Organization (WHO) to attend the WHA this year.

The WHA, the WHO's decision-making body, is held annually in Geneva, Switzerland and attended by representatives of the WHO's 194 member states, including the People's Republic of China.

The United Daily News, a widely-circulated Chinese-language newspaper in Taiwan, cited Lin Shih-chia (???), executive director of the Taipei-based Foundation of Medical Professionals Alliance, in its Sunday edition as saying that it was unlikely Taiwan could attend the WHA this year.

"This has been a common understanding in the sector," Lin was quoted as saying.

Lin blamed the development on "maneuvering by Communist China," which he said had also been evident last year when the WHO cited the "one China principle" in its invitation to Taiwan.

This year the WHA is scheduled to take place from May 22-31, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said, noting that the WHO Secretariat will begin sending out invitations in March.

Since 2009 Taiwan has been granted observer status at the gathering under the name "Chinese Taipei." But last year, in an unprecedented move, the WHO cited United Nations Resolution No. 2758, Resolution WHA 25.1, and the "one-China principle" as "reflected therein" in its invitation to Taiwan.

U.N. Resolution No. 2758, passed on Oct. 25, 1971, recognizes the representatives of the People's Republic of China government as "the only legitimate representatives of China" and expelled the representatives of the Republic of China -- the official name of Taiwan -- from the U.N.

The Resolution WHA 25.1 expelled the ROC from the WHO in 1972.

That invitation came shortly before Tsai Ing-wen (???) of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) was sworn in as Taiwan's president on May 20, 2016.

Observers have said that Taiwan was allowed to attend the 2016 WHA because Beijing was still observing what cross-strait policy the Tsai government would adopt.

However, cross-strait ties could become increasingly tense this year, many experts anticipate.

Under the "one China" principle, Beijing regards Taiwan as part of China's territory, despite the fact that Taiwan is a sovereign nation under the ROC government.

As a result of these divergent positions, Taiwan and China were hostile toward each other until Tsai's predecessor, Ma Ying-jeou (???) of the Kuomintang (KMT) took office in 2008.

There was a dramatic improvement in cross-strait ties during Ma's eight years in office thanks to the "1992 consensus" he adopted.

The "1992 consensus" refers to a tacit understanding reached in 1992 between China and Taiwan, which was then under a KMT government, that there is only one China, with both sides free to interpret what that means.

After Tsai took office, cross-strait relations ground to a halt because her administration refuses to heed Beijing's calls to recognize the "1992 consensus" as the political foundation for cross-strait exchanges. Since then, Beijing has increased pressure on Taiwan internationally.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel