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MOFA thanks the international community for unprecedented support of Taiwan’s participation in the WHA

  • Date:2021-06-01
  • Data Source:Department of International Organizations

June 1, 2021
no. 101

The 74th World Health Assembly (WHA) concluded on May 31. With the critical situation of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has ravaged the world for more than a year, the international community increasingly understands the need, urgency, and legitimacy for inclusive global cooperation in disease prevention and has extended an unprecedented level of support for Taiwan’s participation in the WHA. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of China (Taiwan) expresses sincere gratitude to the executive and legislative branches of the governments of diplomatic allies and friendly nations, interparliamentary organizations, and friendly individuals from all sectors of the international community for their strong endorsement.

This year, 14 diplomatic allies, in their capacity as Member States of the World Health Organization (WHO), urged WHO to invite Taiwan to attend the WHA by submitting a proposal, sending letters, making statements, participating in debates at the WHA plenary session and the WHA General Committee, and employing other diverse means. Like-minded countries also expressed their staunch support at the WHA. The United States, Japan, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and the Sovereign Order of Malta explicitly endorsed Taiwan’s bid, while Germany, France, New Zealand, the Czech Republic, and Lithuania asserted the need for WHO and the global public health system to be inclusive and to incorporate all parties.

Outside the WHA, international support for Taiwan’s bid also reached unparalleled heights, with the administrations of more than 40 nations and the European Union (EU) voicing support in various ways. High-ranking officials from numerous countries publicly expressed support for Taiwan. Among them were Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato, and Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi; Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Foreign Minister Marc Garneau; Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven; Belgian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sophie Wilmes; US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra; Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok and Minister for Medical Care and Sport Tamara van Ark; and French Minister of State Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne.

Like-minded countries established a model to jointly assist Taiwan. This year, the Group of Seven (G7), comprising Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States, together with the EU, unequivocally advocated for Taiwan’s meaningful participation in WHO and the WHA in the foreign ministers’ communiqué. The EU and the US issued a joint press release after their first high-level dialogue on issues related to China, stating that they discussed the importance of Taiwan’s meaningful participation in the work of international organizations, including WHO forums and the WHA, as well as the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait. On the opening day of the WHA, the representative offices in Taiwan of the United States, Japan, Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, France and Germany voiced support on their official Facebook pages. And for the first time, the representative offices in Taiwan of the US, Japan, and Australia followed up with a joint statement during the WHA to advance Taiwan’s cause.

Reflecting the spirit of democracy and broad public opinion, parliaments across the globe also backed Taiwan in diverse and innovative ways. More than 3,000 parliamentarians from over 100 countries have demonstrated their support through concrete actions, building unprecedented momentum. Numerous parliaments and local assemblies have passed resolutions or issued statements calling for Taiwan’s participation in the WHA. These include the Danish Parliament, French Senate, Czech Senate, Slovak Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, Honduran Congress, Paraguayan Chamber of Deputies, US House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs, Central American Parliament(PARLACEN), state legislatures of 21 US states and one US territory, as well as 28—or more than half of—Japanese prefectural assemblies. That the parliaments of Denmark, France, and Slovakia extended their support for the first time was highly significant.

More than 1,500 parliamentarians across five continents sent letters individually or jointly to the WHO Director-General or their own governments voicing support for Taiwan. These include over 100 members of the European Parliament representing different political parties who sent a joint letter to the WHO Director-General, nearly 50 members of the US House of Representatives who sent a joint letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and more than 100 members of the Canadian parliament who wrote a joint letter to Foreign Minister Marc Garneau.

Over 250 leaders and members of parliament from more than 50 countries responded to a social media campaign launched by the US Congress with the hashtag #LetTaiwanHelp. The Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC) also employed an innovative approach by producing a video featuring 16 IPAC cochairs and members from 11 national parliaments and the European Parliament backing Taiwan. The Formosa Clubs in Europe, Latin America, Africa, West Asia, the Indo-Pacific, and the Caribbean, comprising over 1,000 parliamentarians from more than 100 countries, held virtual meetings and sent letters individually or jointly to the WHO Director-General in support of Taiwan. These actions demonstrate the exceptionally strong collective support from national parliaments worldwide for Taiwan’s participation in the WHA.

The Council of the World Medical Association(WMA), a prominent international professional organization representing medical communities worldwide; the Standing Committee of European Doctors(CPME); and other regional medical associations in Europe, Latin America, and Africa also passed proposals and sent letters to the WHO Director-General or the EU in a show of staunch support from medical professionals for Taiwan’s bid.

To intensify and amplify international support, MOFA produced a short film, The Gift of a Great Adventure, which has garnered more than 18.82 million views. Op-eds by Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung, letters to the editor from Taiwan’s overseas missions, commentaries and columns by academics and experts from other countries, and other related reports have been published and broadcast in major international media outlets—including the New York Times, CNN, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the Times, Agence France-Presse, Yomiuri Shimbun, the Indian Express, and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. In total, nearly 70 international media outlets have released approximately 600 reports backing Taiwan’s participation in the WHA.

During its WHA campaign, Taiwan also actively engaged in professional exchanges with several countries, jointly organizing an international public health workshop with the US, Japan, the United Kingdom, and Australia under the Global Cooperation and Training Framework(GCTF), entitled “COVID-19 Vaccine Roll-out: Experiences and Challenges.” Experts from Israel, the EU, and Canada participated in the discussion on global vaccination challenges, sharing experiences in vaccine allocation, inoculation, and countering side effects, as well as engaging in consultations on optimal vaccine policies in a concerted effort to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Given that countries worldwide are still facing the threat of COVID-19 as well as the formidable challenges of vaccine rollout and postpandemic recovery, global cooperation in disease prevention should ensure no one is left behind. MOFA urges WHO to listen to the voices calling for justice coming loud and clear from the international community, allow Taiwan to attend the WHA as an observer as early as possible, and permit Taiwan to comprehensively participate in all WHO meetings, mechanisms, and activities to ensure a complete and seamless global public health and disease prevention system. (E)