U.S. congressmen urge support for Taiwan’s WHA participation

Washington, May 8 (CNA) Two senior members of the U.S. House of Representatives on Monday called for continued support for Taiwan as it became clear that Taiwan will not be invited to attend the upcoming World Health Assembly (WHA) in Geneva due to China's obstruction.

Ed Royce and Eliot Engel, the chairman and ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, made the call in a letter to U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Thomas Price.

They urged Price to meet with the delegation that Taiwan will send to Geneva regardless of whether or not it can participate in the WHA proceedings, and to encourage World Health Organization (WHO) members to maintain their support for Taiwan's continued participation in the WHA.

They also encouraged Price to visit Taiwan later this year, which they said "would signal strong support for Taiwan's global health efforts around the world."

"The global health community does not benefit when Taiwan is kept in the dark on these critical matters: we are all safer when Taiwan has meaningful and unobstructed participation in international health cooperation forums," they wrote in the letter.

"In addition to the benefits accrued by the international community from Taiwan's participation, we should all agree that the health and safety of the people of Taiwan should not be needlessly held hostage by politics."

Also Monday, the U.S. Department of State reiterated Washington's support for Taiwan's membership in international organizations that do not require statehood and for Taiwan's "meaningful participation" in organizations that require statehood for membership.

The WHA, the decision-making body of the WHO, is scheduled to hold its annual session in Geneva from May 22 to May 31.

Taiwan first attended the WHA as an observer in 2009, a year after the government of former President Ma Ying-jeou (???) came to power and pursued a more conciliatory policy toward Beijing.

Since then, Taiwan has taken part in the annual WHA as an observer every year, but Taiwan's Health Minister Chen Shih-chung (???) confirmed Tuesday that Taiwan has not been invited to the meeting this year.

On Monday, Zhang Zhijun (???), head of China's Taiwan Affairs Office, said explicitly that the basis for Taiwan's continued participation in the WHA no longer existed since Taiwan has refused to comply with Beijing's demand for Taipei to accept the so-called "1992 consensus," which essentially implies that China and Taiwan are part of "one China."

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel