Taiwan to send delegation to WHA meeting even without invitation

Taipei--Taiwan will send a delegation to Geneva for the annual World Health Assembly (WHA) later in May even if it does not receive an invitation to attend the meeting, Health and Welfare Minister Chen Shih-chung (???) said Wednesday.

At a hearing held by the Legislature's Social Welfare and Environmental Hygiene Committee, Chen said the government is preparing to go to Geneva and make its presence felt while the WHA is in session even without an invitation.

The WHA, the decision-making body of the World Health Organization (WHO), is scheduled to hold its 2017 session from May 22 to May 31.

Taiwan wants to attend the meeting as an observer, as has been the case for the past eight years. The deadline for online registration for this year's WHA session is May 8, and Taiwan is still holding out hope to receive an invitation by then.

Many believe an invitation will not be forthcoming because of Beijing's ongoing campaign to suppress Taiwan's participation in international organizations.

That campaign has intensified since President Tsai Ing-wen (???) of the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party took office in May 2016.

At the hearing, Chen said the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW) has been trying to forge closer ties with many countries to secure support for Taiwan's bid to attend the WHA meeting.

Chen said the government has also not ruled out the possibility of holding an international news conference in Geneva as the WHA meeting is being held as a sign of protest if Taiwan is not invited by the WHO to attend the session as an observer.

Holding an international news conference would be just one way the Taiwanese delegation could protest, Chen said, but he did not mention what other options the delegation might have.

He said the MOHW and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will continue to work hard on the WHA bid, but would not disclose details of their efforts, saying it was not the right time to do so.

Tsai has repeatedly sent out tweets to solicit international support for Taiwan's WHA bid, pointing to the country's contribution to the international community by providing medical assistance to millions of patients around the world.

Taiwan first participated in the WHA as an observer in 2009, one year after the Ma Ying-jeou (???) government, which pursued a more conciliatory policy toward China, came to power.

Cross-Taiwan Strait relations have cooled since Tsai took office, mainly due to her refusal to heed Beijing's calls to recognize the "1992 consensus" as the sole political foundation for cross-strait exchanges.

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

Last year, Taiwan received a late invitation to the annual WHA session before Tsai took office, but it contained an unexpected reference to United Nations Resolution No. 2758, which many saw as a political message.

The resolution, passed on Oct. 25, 1971, recognized the People's Republic of China as "the only legitimate representative of China to the United Nations" and expelled the representatives of the Republic of China (Taiwan).

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel