Chair cuts short speeches from allies supporting Taiwan’s WHA bid

Brussels and Taipei, The chair of a World Health Assembly (WHA) session meeting on Tuesday cut short speeches by two of Taiwan’s diplomatic allies that support the nation’s participation in the WHA as the assembly went into its second day.

Bjørn-Inge Larsen of Norway, chair of Committee A of the ongoing WHA session, had to interrupt the speech made by an Eswatini official after he praised Taiwan for its medical expertise in containing the COVID-19 pandemic but was still excluded from attending this year’s WHA.

Before the address made by the eSwatini representative, a Belize official also lauded Taiwan for its exemplary performance against COVID-19, stressing that it is in the interests of the international health system to include Taiwan as a WHA observer.

After cutting short the Eswatini official’s speech, Larsen reminded the speakers of both Eswatini and Belize that they should only address the items listed on the agenda and not “discuss this issue of observer” in their future addresses.

Later, an official from Palau, another of Taiwan’s diplomatic allies, said in a pre-recorded clip that Taiwan’s exclusion is regrettable and prevents the country, known for its “great success in containing the virus,” from sharing its insight with the world.

Larsen promptly asked the session moderator to stop playing the clip, citing the fact that the topic was not included on the agenda, and asked Palau to send a written text instead.

On the first day of the resumed session on Monday, the WHA had refused to include a proposal to “invite Taiwan to participate in the WHA as an observer” on the supplementary agenda of the General Assembly.

During Tuesday’s session, a total of 11 like-minded countries and diplomatic allies of Taiwan — the United States, Japan, Belize, Eswatini, Nicaragua, St. Kitts and Nevis, Honduras, Nauru, Guatemala, Palau and the Marshall Islands spoke up in support of Taiwan’s WHA bid during their respective addresses.

Paraguay was Taiwan’s only ally that did not speak up in support of the nation’s WHA bid during Tuesday’s session.

The WHA, the decision-making body of the World Health Organization (WHO), is holding its 73rd assembly from Nov. 9-14 in Geneva, with some representatives appearing in person and others via video link.

Since being expelled from the WHO in 1972 after the People’s Republic of China took its seat, Taiwan, officially named the Republic of China, has not been able to participate in the WHA, except for 2009-2016, when it attended as an observer at a time when cross-Taiwan Strait relations were warmer under Taiwan’s then-Kuomintang (KMT) government.

Since 2017, however, China has pressured the WHO not to invite Taiwan, in line with Beijing’s hardline stance on cross-strait relations since President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) of the independence- leaning Democratic Progressive Party took office in May 2016.

Meanwhile, in Taipei, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) expressed thanks for the support shown by its allies and like-minded countries during the WHA, adding that it is extremely regrettable that the WHO had “put politics above the health of the 23 million people in Taiwan.”

Taiwan’s main opposition KMT, meanwhile, called on the WHO not to exclude the nation in the WHA based on the one-sided story and policy on the Chinese part.

Such exclusion will only lead to negative feelings toward the Chinese communist regime among Taiwanese people, the party said.


Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel

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