London, May 23 (CNA) Taiwan as a hub for international travel should not be excluded from the World Health Organization (WHO), and Taiwan's failure to participate in the annual meeting of the World Health Assembly (WHA) for two consecutive years is due to China's obstruction, Taiwan's Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (???) said Wednesday in an interview with the BBC World Service.
When asked by Dan Damon, host of BBC's World Update, why it is important for Taiwan to take part in the WHA, Wu said that "the value for Taiwan to be able to participate in the annual WHA is that Taiwan is able to get connected with the rest of the world concerning the health issue."
So it is important to allow Taiwan to be able to work together with the rest of the world, Wu said.
Wu noted that in 2003, when Taiwan was hit by Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), it was looking forward to help from the international community. "We called for help from the WHO, but the WHO was unable to send anybody to Taiwan," according to Wu.
Previous to that, Taiwan was hit by enterovirus and was unable to gain support from the WHO because it was not a member, Wu said.
These experiences show that Taiwan needs to get connected to the rest of the world.
Wu pointed out that 1.66 million planes pass through Taiwan's airspace and 66 million people pass through the country annually. He said that if Taiwan becomes a loophole in the international fight against pandemics, that will affect the rest of the world.
"Taiwan should not be left out (of the global health network)," he added.
Taiwan may be small but "we can still help the rest of the international community," Wu said, adding that Taiwan's national health insurance program is a model for the rest of the world.
"We hope we can help the rest of the world as well, if you allow Taiwan to become part of the international health community."
Wu also said Taiwan's exclusion from the WHA is due to Beijing's obstruction.
The current problems in cross-Taiwan Strait relations arise from Beijing's political motivation regarding Taiwan, Wu said, adding that Beijing has been imposing its one-China principle -- which describes Taiwan as part of China -- in the international community, the WHO, governments, and private corporations that do business.
China says that if Taiwan wants to participate in the WHO, it needs Beijing's approval or should be part of a Beijing delegation, Wu said.
In fact, Taiwan is not part of the People's Republic of China, he stressed.
"We have a vibrant democracy. Taiwan's president is democratically elected and Taiwan's parliament is also democratically elected," he noted.
The minister also said that Beijing's recent exertion of pressure on international airlines to refer Taiwan as part of China is hurting the people of Taiwan. It also shows that it is using its "sharp power" for its political purposes.
In the past year or so, China's military has increased the number of its military flights around Taiwan, Wu went on, adding that even though Taiwan currently has the ability to defend itself, it is very concerned that it will eventually lag behind in its defense capability.
In addition, Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed gratitude Thursday to representatives from 17 of Taiwan's diplomatic allies for speaking for Taiwan during the WHA meeting, along with six other countries and the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, which, according to the foreign ministry, also spoke for Taiwan.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel