Taiwan hopes to win a seat in the World Health Assembly

Taiwan hopes to win a seat in the World Health Assembly

Taipei, Taiwan Taiwan and its supporters have launched a serious campaign to see them return as an observer at the World Health Assembly, the governing body of the World Health Organization, which will meet on May 24.

Taiwan’s success in dealing with COVID-19 for more than a year and a half has renewed interest in Taiwan’s absence from the World Health Assembly, which it has not attended since President Tsai Ing-wen was elected in 2016.

US lawmakers have regularly called on Taiwan to return as an observer in past years, but this time the Group of Seven industrialized nations lent their support to Taiwan as this year the coordinated social media campaign with the hashtag #LetTaiwanHelp expanded to include European and Australian lawmakers. Canada and New Zealand.

In late April, 16 members of the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC) released a video of a campaign urging the World Health Assembly to invite Taiwan, coinciding with an increase in tweets from lawmakers in the US Congress and the State Department.

“In the past, congressional efforts have focused on sending letters to the World Health Organization, the executive branch, or overseas capitals to request support for Taiwan’s inclusion.” , “There has been a lot this year. Therefore, the public is a far-reaching approach.”

It has brought in parliamentarians from all over the world – and across party lines. She has also managed to grow organically on the social media platform, making statements from other leaders, public figures, and activists.

Taiwan has begun mass testing in areas identified as hotspots in the island’s rare COVID-19 outbreak [Sam Yeh/AFP]

Taiwan’s Vice Foreign Minister, Tian Chung Kwang, said the government will continue to hope for an invitation until the last minute as it uses the hashtag #LetTaiwanHelp to rally support and the new hashtag #TaiwanIsHelping to promote its donation of oxygen cylinders and other medical supplies. To hard hit countries like India.

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Yeh Qingchuan, who attended the World Health Assembly in 2009 as an observer when he was minister of health, says that at that time Taiwan was able to bring up to 15 experts to attend scientific sessions and advance on topics including success in the island’s national insurance. a program. .

“It’s a short meeting,” said Yeh.

“The World Health Assembly is only two days and after that there are scientific meetings, but it is a great participation. For those countries that do not have diplomatic relations with Taiwan, they are still interested in some areas and communicate with our experts even after their return.”

Medical experts will likely be eager to hear the opinion of the Taiwanese delegation on how they are dealing with and often containing COVID-19.

As of this month, the island has recorded fewer than 1,200 coronavirus cases and 12 deaths, although infection rates have spiked in Taipei and New Taipei after an outbreak linked to a group that started a group of Chinese pilots Airlines in early May.

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Taiwan, officially known as the Republic of China, was represented by the World Health Organization and the World Health Assembly, but was expelled from the organizations in 1972, a year after Beijing was formally admitted into the United Nations.

Taiwan was invited to join an observer from 2009 to 2016 during Ma Ying-jeou’s relatively friendly presidency, but the offer was canceled once Tsai took office.

new friends

Since its election, Beijing, which claims the autonomous island is a part of it, has lobbied to limit Taiwan’s international presence and participation even non-political organizations such as the World Health Organization and the International Civil Service Aviation Organization (ICAO).

The number of countries with which Taiwan has established formal diplomatic relations since Tsai became president has also shrunk, with only 15 countries now recognizing Taipei compared to Beijing.

However, growing concerns about China’s influence in Europe has also brought new allies to Taiwan in unexpected places like Lithuania, the Czech Republic and the European Parliament.

Taiwan has been unable to attend the World Health Assembly since 2016 after pressure from China. He is pushing hard to participate in this year’s tournaments [File: Christopher Black/World Health Organization via AFP]

Before the World Health Assembly, the Czech Senate passed a resolution calling on Taiwan to participate in “all meetings, mechanisms and activities” of the WHO, while legislators in Lithuania and the Czech Republic participate in the IPAC, along with representatives. From 10 other European countries.

“Two years ago, Taiwan was not seen as a major player in the Asia-Europe strategy, nor was it a nation.” [individual] Strategies. “The situation has obviously changed due to developments in Hong Kong and Xinjiang, the coronavirus epidemic and the US administration’s interest in the island,” said Ivana Karaskova, a Chinese researcher and project coordinator at the International Affairs Association in Prague.

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As for the practical implications, this may not change the island’s isolation in international organizations and forums, but it clearly indicates that countries are ready to deal with Taiwan.

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