23 May 2017

News Story: Barred from WHO meet, Taiwan urges global 'pressure' on China


Taiwan voiced deep disappointment Sunday at its exclusion from a major World Health Organization meeting, and urged international pressure on rival China to ensure it has access in future.

The WHO's main annual meeting, the World Health Assembly (WHA), kicks off in Geneva on Monday, but for the first time in eight years, Taiwan will not be granted access.

"We feel very, very disappointed," Taiwanese Health Minister Chen Shih-chung told AFP in Geneva on Sunday.

Self-governing Taiwan, which China sees as a renegade province awaiting reunification, has been invited to attend the WHO's main annual meeting as an observer every year since 2009, but this year it did not receive an invitation.

Relations with China have become increasingly frosty since Beijing-sceptic President Tsai Ing-wen took power almost a year ago and China has sought to block the island from a string of international events.

"Each year since 2009, a cross-strait understanding has been the foundation for a special arrangement for Chinese Taipei to participate as an observer in the World Health Assembly," WHO's head of governing bodies and external relations, Timothy Armstrong, told reporters earlier this month.

"Unfortunately this year, no such cross-strait understanding exists, so there is no basis for the invitation."

As a result, Chen will not even be able to access the UN's European headquarters in Geneva, where the WHA will take place through May 31.

Taiwanese media have also been refused access to cover the event.

Read the full story at SinoDaily