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Taiwan’s WHO bid receives greater international recognition and support at 76th WHA

  • Date:2023-05-31
  • Data Source:Department of International Organizations

May 31, 2023
No. 182
The 76th World Health Assembly (WHA) concluded on May 30. This year coincides with the 75th anniversary of the establishment of the World Health Organization (WHO), drawing greater awareness from the international community to WHO’s leading role in the global health network and to the importance of applying the lessons of the COVID-19 pandemic to future global public health emergencies. This year, Taiwan’s bid to participate in WHO and the WHA received broader and stronger international support. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) of the Republic of China (Taiwan) expresses its deep gratitude to the nearly 100 countries around the world and the more than 10,000 officials, political figures, parliamentarians, and important friends in all fields who have spoken up for Taiwan in and outside of WHO.

This month, Taiwan’s Minister of Health and Welfare Hsueh Jui-yuan led the WHO action team to Geneva to advocate for Taiwan’s WHA bid. The team attended diplomatic receptions, held an international press conference, conducted bilateral talks with diplomatic allies and the United States, Lithuania, and other like-minded countries, as well as participating in Walk the Talk Geneva 2023 and events hosted by civil society organizations and the overseas Taiwanese community. And, for the first time, Taiwan, the United States, Japan, and Australia jointly held a Global Cooperation and Training Framework (GCTF) workshop in Geneva alongside the WHA to discuss enhancing the resilience of future antipandemic prevention and response. Taiwan and the World Medical Association also co-organized a professional forum to exchange disaster medicine experience with other countries and share Taiwan’s disaster relief and emergency medical capabilities.
Twelve of Taiwan’s diplomatic allies, as members of WHO, submitted a proposal item to invite Taiwan to participate in the WHA as an observer. Representatives from four diplomatic allies, namely Belize, Nauru, Eswatini, and the Marshall Islands, further participated in two rounds of two-plus-two debates in opposition to the Chinese side at the WHA General Committee and the plenary session. During the General Committee debate, Belize and Nauru both sternly refuted the erroneous and distorted political interpretations being promoted by the Chinese side, which inappropriately linked United Nations General Assembly Resolution 2758 and WHA Resolution 25.1 to Beijing’s so-called “one China principle.” Belize and Nauru made it clear that prioritizing politics over public health is unacceptable to the world. During the plenary session debate, Eswatini and the Marshall Islands, closely aligning with this year’s theme of “WHO at 75: Saving lives, driving health for all,” emphasized Taiwan’s antipandemic prevention and public health governance from professional medical and health perspectives. They lauded Taiwan as a model for the world and called for Taiwan’s participation in WHO and the WHA. Although the proposal item was ultimately not included in the agenda, the 12 diplomatic allies which spoke up vigorously for Taiwan made the voice of justice heard at the WHA.
At this year’s WHA, like-minded countries supported Taiwan more than ever before at this year’s WHA, with a total of 13 strongly backing Taiwan. The United States, Japan, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, France, Germany, Lithuania, the Czech Republic, and Luxembourg continued to speak up for Taiwan. Estonia showed its support in a direct reference to Taiwan for the first time. New Zealand and Latvia echoed Taiwan’s appeals for participation in WHO and the WHA, emphasizing the goals of inclusiveness, avoiding politicization, and leaving no region of the world behind.
This year, China continues to falsely claim in the WHA that it has made arrangements for Taiwan’s participation in WHO global health affairs. It also criticizes countries that speak up for Taiwan, accusing them of political interference. China’s deceitful lies are completely unsubstantiated and highlight the fact that it is attempting to deliberately mislead the international community. China is the main perpetrator pressuring WHO to exclude Taiwan, exploiting politics at the WHA to override the right to health. MOFA solemnly reiterates that neither the Republic of China (Taiwan) nor the People’s Republic of China is subordinate to the other. The Chinese communist regime has never had jurisdiction over Taiwan—not even for a single day. Only the democratically elected government of Taiwan can represent the people of Taiwan in WHO and other international organizations, as well as protecting their right to health. MOFA declares to the Chinese government that participation in WHO and the WHA is the aspiration and consensus of the people of Taiwan. China continues to use narrow-minded and selfish political considerations, employing heavy-handed tactics and stopping at nothing to obstruct Taiwan’s participation. However, this will only make the people of Taiwan and the international community more resentful of and averse to China. China should take a responsible attitude toward the health and safety of humankind and stop ignoring the international community’s calls for Taiwan’s participation.
High-level officials from diplomatic allies and like-minded countries have also publicly supported Taiwan at a variety of events outside WHO by giving speeches, issuing statements, responding to parliamentary interpellations, answering media questions, and posting on social media. Leaders from diplomatic allies publicly spoke up for Taiwan, including President of Guatemala Alejandro Giammattei; Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Ralph Gonsalves; Deputy Prime Minister of Saint Christopher and Nevis Geoffrey Hanley; and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of the Marshall Islands Kitlang Kabua. Other prominent political figures, such as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi, French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Catherine Colonna, Belgian Foreign Minister Hadja Lahbib, Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billström, and State Secretary of the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Erling Rimestad have also made public statements backing Taiwan. This demonstrates that Taiwan’s bid to participate in WHO and the WHA has received broad support from the international community.
Like-minded countries have also showed their firm support for Taiwan through joint actions. This year, the joint communiqués of the G7 foreign ministers in April and the health ministers in May both called for Taiwan’s participation in the WHA and WHO technical meetings. Joint statements from 2+2 foreign and defense ministerial consultations between Australia and the United Kingdom and between France and Australia, as well as a meeting between the US secretary of state and the Lithuanian foreign minister, also supported Taiwan’s meaningful participation in international organizations. For the third year running, foreign representative offices in Taiwan demonstrated their support through joint actions. The offices of eight countries—the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada, Japan, Germany, the Czech Republic, and Lithuania—issued a joint press release before the WHA strongly supporting Taiwan, which offered further encouragement.
The national legislatures of countries around the world as well as transnational parliaments also demonstrated the groundswell of international backing for Taiwan by passing resolutions and sending letters of support. The House of Representatives of Belize and the National Assembly of Saint Christopher and Nevis adopted resolutions supporting Taiwan. On the eve of the WHA, the US House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs passed the Taiwan International Solidarity Act, which aims to counter China’s malicious attempts to distort United Nations General Assembly Resolution 2758 and undermine Taiwan’s international participation. For the second consecutive year, the German Bundestag passed a resolution calling for Taiwan’s participation in the WHA and WHO as an observer. The Czech Senate also passed a resolution supporting Taiwan’s participation in WHO and other international organizations for the third year running. Over 1,000 legislators from the European Parliament, the Central American Parliament, and Formosa Clubs around the world voiced their support through individual or joint letters and various other ways.
Leading voices the world over, including prominent political figures, parliamentarians, and representatives of international medical and health groups, joined the chorus of support for Taiwan on social media, using the four hashtags #TaiwanCanHelp, #LetTaiwanHelp, #LetTaiwanIn, and #WHONeedsTaiwan. The campaign was supported by Chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Vice Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee Marco Rubio (R-FL), Chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Indo-Pacific Young Kim (R-CA) and Ranking Member Ami Bera (D-CA), and other high-ranking legislators from various countries and political parties. They were joined by government officials, parliamentarians, members of the European Parliament, leading politicians, media professionals, overseas Taiwanese representatives, and medical and health professionals.
Taiwan has been conducting medical missions around the world for many years. MOFA’s short film The Doctor Is In shows how Taiwan’s medical assistance has reached a pediatric cardiology hospital and other institutions in war-torn Ukraine, helped improve infant and maternal health in Eswatini and other parts of Africa, and trained medical professionals internationally. These initiatives successfully demonstrate that Taiwan is able and willing to help. Total views of the video have surpassed 13 million worldwide. Meanwhile, the international media published a total of 367 articles, related reports, including an op-ed by Minister of Health and Welfare Hsueh Jui-yuan, letters to the editor from R.O.C. (Taiwan) overseas missions, and supportive opinion pieces and columns from academics and experts around the world. Taiwan erected large three-dimensional letters spelling #Taiwan Can Help outside the Palais des Nations, where the WHA took place. It also arranged for a promotional minibus to drive around Geneva to raise awareness and support among national delegations.
This year, Taiwan’s Legislative Yuan (LY) sent an observer team to Geneva to take part in campaign activities. The delegation included legislators Chen Ching-min, Cheng Cheng-chien, and Lai Hsiang-ling. Members of the LY Social Welfare and Environmental Hygiene Committee Chiu Tai-yuan, Chen Ying, and Lai Hui-yuan also formed a fact-finding group to follow WHA discussions on various medical and health issues. The efforts of the legislators demonstrated that winning international goodwill and support for Taiwan’s participation in WHO and the WHA cuts across political affiliations. Also this year, around 500 representatives of civil society and student organizations—including overseas Taiwanese groups and members of the medical and health community concerned about the issue of Taiwan’s international participation—gathered in Geneva to hold fairs, exhibitions, marches, and international conferences to highlight Taiwan’s achievements in medicine and health. Working together with the government, they sent a strong message to the international community concerning Taiwan’s appeal and determination to participate in the WHA.
Further still, the World Medical Association, the Standing Committee of European Doctors, and other leading international medical and health nongovernmental organizations, as well as healthcare professionals from Europe, Asia, Latin America, and Africa, jointly voiced their support for Taiwan’s participation in the WHA through letters to the WHO director general, public statements, and other means. TaiwanICDF collaborated with the Good Neighbors Global Partnership Center and Malteser International to cohost a forum during the WHA entitled Mental Health for All: Psychosocial Support for People in Need in Emergency Contexts. The event underlined Taiwan’s stature in the international development community. 
Over the years, in the spirit of health for all and the confidence that Taiwan can help, Taiwan has strengthened medical cooperation with countries around the world and jointly contributed to building a more secure global health system. International recognition and support for Taiwan’s participation in WHO and the WHA have increased year on year, growing into a powerful movement for Taiwan’s continuous campaign. The government will continue to work closely with diplomatic allies and like-minded countries to build the greatest possible international support and urge WHO to include Taiwan in the WHA and other WHO meetings, activities, and mechanisms as soon as possible. (E)