Taiwan should not be excluded from WHA: president

Taipei--President Tsai Ing-wen (???) on Friday reiterated that attending the World Health Assembly (WHA) relates directly to the right to health of Taiwan's citizens and should not be undermined for any reason.

Support and assistance from the United States and other like-minded countries for Taiwan's participation is the greatest recognition of Taiwan's many contributions to the global health system, Tsai said during a meeting with American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Chairman James Moriarty.

The president acknowledged the U.S. government's support of Taiwan's meaningful participation in international organizations. She also thanked Moriarty for reaffirming Washington's position that Taiwan should be allowed to attend the WHA, at a public health workshop held in Taipei under the U.S-Taiwan Global Cooperation and Training Framework (GCTF) a few days ago.

Describing the United States as Taiwan's "most important partner," Tsai said she hopes the two sides can work to strengthen cooperation on issues such as counter-terrorism, public health, digital economics, humanitarian aid and women's rights protection under existing bilateral and multilateral frameworks.

She also said she looks forward to both sides continuing to strengthen and upgrade their partnership, by for example developing more strategic cooperation on regional security, extending exchanges on trade and economics and strengthening mutual trust.

Taiwan is prepared to play a more positive role in protecting regional peace and security, she stressed, saying that Taiwan will actively engage in U.S-led humanitarian efforts in the Middle East, increase investment in national defense, promote cooperation with America's defense industry and launch a project to build submarines domestically.

Moriarty said he was very happy to visit Taiwan for the second time as chairman of AIT, which he said gave him an opportunity to reaffirm U.S. commitments to Taiwan. The former career diplomat became AIT chairman last October.

He said the relationship between the United States and Taiwan is based on the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) of 1979, common values shared by both sides and friendship between the people on both sides.

The TRA has ensured the consistency of U.S. policy toward Taiwan despite changes in U.S. administrations over the years, regardless of which party is in power, he said, adding that the United States has been very happy to upgrade its level of cooperation with Taiwan in recent years.

He said the U.S-Taiwan public health workshop held this week in Taipei demonstrated Taiwan's ability in disease prevention and control, and noted that the United States appreciates the leadership displayed by Taiwan on global health issues.

The United States has strongly supported Taiwan's participation as an observer at the WHA and hopes Taiwan can attend the event again this year to continue its contributions to global health, he added.

The WHA, the decision-making body of the World Health Organization (WHO), is scheduled to hold its annual meeting May 22-31 in Geneva.

Taiwan first attended the WHA as an observer in 2009, a year after the government of President Ma Ying-jeou came to power and pursued a conciliatory policy toward Beijing. Since then, Taipei has been able to send a delegation to Geneva each year but has not yet received an invitation to this year's meeting.

There have been concerns that Beijing might try to block Taiwan's invitation to the WHA this year, in light of increasingly strained cross-strait relations since Tsai took office in May 2016.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel