The 71st World Health Assembly (WHA) will be held from 21 to 26 May 2018 in Geneva and the authority of China’s Taiwan region isn’t invited to the Assembly as an observer. The Taiwan Authority should bear full responsibility for this since it refuses to recognize and abide by the one-China principle, which is a part of resolutions of the United Nations.
The World Health Organization (WHO) is a United Nations (UN) specialized agency composed of sovereign countries. As part of China, Taiwan is not a sovereign country and it is not eligible to participate in the organization and has no right to be an observer of the WHA. Since 1997, the WHA has repeatedly rejected the proposal to support Taiwan’s participation in the WHA.
There is only one China in the world and the Taiwan region is an inalienable part of China’s territory. The one-China principle represents the universal consensus shared by the international community.
The WHA must adhere to the one-China principle which has been endorsed by the UN General Assembly Resolution 2758 and the WHA Resolution 25.1 when handling the Taiwan-related issues.
The Taiwan Authority claims that its absence from the WHA will lead to a gap in the global disease prevention network. This is utterly inconsistent with reality.
Then central government of The People’s Republic of China always attaches great importance to the health and welfare of Taiwan people and has established proper arrangements for the Taiwan region of China to participate in global health affairs while following the one-China principle.
Medical and public health experts from the Taiwan region may attend technical activities organized by the WHO in their appropriate capacities, and when necessary, WHO staff members or experts may be sent to Taiwan region to investigate the public health or epidemiological situation there, and the WHO may provide medical and public health assistance to the Taiwan region.
The People’s Republic of China also makes arrangements through negotiations with the WHO on the application of International Health Regulations (2005) (IHR) to the Taiwan region. Under these arrangements, an IHR Focal Point has been set up in the Taiwan region, and the region has an account to log onto the WHO event information site, which gives it prompt access to WHO information on global public health emergencies.
In the event of an outbreak of a local public health emergency, the Taiwan region can also immediately report to the WHO through its IHR Focal Point and publish such information on the WHO event information website. In 2009, the Taiwan region reported to the WHO 24 confirmed H1N1 cases. In 2016, 2014 and 2017, it reported a total of five cases of human infection with the H7N9 virus.
All relevant information was published on the WHO event website and thus accessible by all IHR State Parties.
Moreover, experts from the Taiwan region can participate in relevant IHR technical activities in an appropriate capacity and WHO Technical Expert Groups can also go to the Taiwan region to provide technical guidance and assistance.
These measures mentioned above show that the central government of China is sincere in its efforts to address health concerns of Taiwan people and the measures it has taken are viable and feasible, and that the channel for two-way communication between Taiwan and the WHO is unimpeded.
These arrangements allow the Taiwan region to make timely and effective response to public health emergencies both on the island and in other places around the world.
Taiwan people’s right to health is well protected. One must not confuse the health of Taiwan people with Taiwan Authority’s participation in the WHA. The Democratic Progressive Party’s assertion that denial of Taiwan’s WHA attendance is tantamount to ignoring Taiwan people’s right to health and creating a gap in global epidemic prevention efforts is utterly groundless.
The Taiwan region attended the WHA in the name of “Chinese Taipei” as an observer for eight consecutive years from 2009 to 2016.
This was a special arrangement made by cross-Strait consultations based on mutual adherence to the 1992 Consensus which embodies the one-China principle.
The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)’s refusal to acknowledge the 1992 Consensus embodying the one-China principle undermines the political foundation for the Taiwan region to attend the WHA.
If Taiwan does not receive the invitation this year, the DPP is the one to blame.
Under the current situation, the leaders of the DPP in Taiwan should reflect on why it still can’t attend the assembly rather than shirking responsibility, shifting focus and misleading the public in Taiwan and the international community.
The solemn position of the Chinese Government on the Taiwan Authority’s participation in the WHA has been understood and supported by the international community, which firmly endorses the one-China principle.
And the WHA shouldn’t become a stage for the Taiwan Authority to promote the so called “Taiwan independence”. Abiding by this political principle has actually become an international custom. The WHO’s decision is correct and commendable.