Taiwan’s claim of no anti-COVID support groundless: China

After Taiwan complained of a lack of anti-COVID support and sought an active role in the World Health Organization, China has said that Taiwan’s attempt to become a WHO member is a stratagem to seek foreign support and advance its separatists goals, and urged the member states to respect the “One-China Principle” and not to fall into its trap.

Taiwan wants to “hype up” its participation in the WHO while “their real intention is to solicit foreign support and seek independence under the pretext of the pandemic. We are firmly opposed to that and have repeatedly clarified our position,” the Chinese Embassy in New Delhi said in a statement.

It was issued in response to Taiwan Foreign Minister Joseph Wu’s remarks to The Hindu on May 13 in which he had said that the country’s participation in the WHO was “far from satisfactory” but it wants to interact with other countries on “an equal basis” so it could actively share its experiences with COVID-related issues first-hand. Mr Wu said Taiwan’s current arrangement with the WHO prevented it from sharing information about the disease and urged its decision-making body, the World Health Assembly, to include it as a full member.

Taiwan ups diplomatic offensive

Taiwan had the observer status in WHA between 2009 and 2016. But whether or not Taiwan could participate in WHO would be decided by WHA, which is yet to determine the content of its next week’s meeting. An official told the newspaper that the agenda is “still being evolved”. “We will take a final view (on the Taiwan inclusion issue) depending on how the agenda evolves,” he added.

The latest approach of Taiwan is based on its claim that it had sent an early warning to the WHO on the pandemic but it was ignored. According to the report, Taiwan had sent an email to the WHO on December 31, the same day the Wuhan authorities had asked for information about the outbreak. But the email, which was later made public, did not provide new information about the pandemic as was initially claimed, and WHO did not follow up with Taiwan on the issue.

However, China rebutted Taiwan’s claim as “purely groundless” that its warning did not receive the WHO’s attention. “The Taiwan region is never excluded from the WHO global anti-epidemic system,” the Chinese Embassy said. “As of May 6, China’s mainland had updated Taiwan on the epidemic situation 148 times. The WHO has also clarified many times that Taiwan has not made an alert, but only sought more information. The so-called statement that Taiwan first issued a warning but did not receive the attention of the WHO is purely groundless.”

The statement urged the Indian media to “take a correct stance” on issues concerning China’s sovereignty, adhere to its one-China principle, and not to provide a platform for ‘Taiwan’s independence forces”.

A majority of the UN member states (179 of 193), including India, do not maintain diplomatic relations with Taiwan. While the US has pushed for Taiwan’s inclusion in WHA, the move will require a simple majority from the member countries. Like most countries in the world, India follows “One China” policy which implicitly recognizes Taiwan as part of the People’s Republic of China.

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