Taiwan: W.H.O. Turned Down 70% of Our Meeting Requests

World Health Organization President Tedros Adhanom speaks to the press during the World Health Organization conference on noncommunicable diseases in Montevideo, Uruguay, Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Matilde Campodonico)
AP Photo/Matilde Campodonico

The World Health Organization (W.H.O.) has turned down at least 70 percent of Taiwan’s requests for meetings, the island’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said on Wednesday, Taiwan News reported.

The W.H.O. said on Wednesday that it has always maintained contacts and exchanges with Taiwan, prompting MOFA to respond with the revelation. According to MOFA, the W.H.O. cannot claim an impartial stance towards Taiwan, as more than 70 percent of Taiwan’s applications for technical meetings with the organization have been turned down.

On Wednesday, Taiwanese officials noted that between 2009 and 2019, Taiwan was allowed to attend just 57 out of 187 W.H.O. meetings, with most requiring excessive application procedures.

In recent coronavirus reports, the W.H.O. insisted on naming Taiwan as “a province of China,” said Bob Chen, head of MOFA’s Department of International Organizations. The W.H.O.’s Regional Office for the Western Pacific Region (WPRO), should geographically include Taiwan, but the office refuses to have anything to do with the island, Chen added.

On Wednesday, MOFA said it welcomed the W.H.O. to discuss the issue but added that the current situation – in which Taiwan has been blackballed from membership in the United Nations health body – still did not allow Taiwan to receive vital coronavirus information and to share its experiences with the world.

The W.H.O. – along with its director, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus – has been engaged in a public dispute with Taiwan recently over the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic and the U.N. agency’s dismissive attitude toward the country. Taiwan has been barred from W.H.O. membership because China considers the island a renegade province, despite the fact that Taiwan has never been ruled by Beijing. It is a sovereign democratic state that functions independently with its own government and military.

Taiwan’s government has repeatedly criticized the W.H.O.’s refusal to allow it access to its activities and refusing to listen to Taiwan’s early warnings about the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak in China in late December, well before China admitted to the contagion. Taiwan has also admonished the WHO for listing China’s coronavirus statistics alongside Taiwan’s – as if they were both one country – making Taiwan’s outbreak look worse than it is by attributing China’s statistics to it.

In response, last week Tedros accused Taiwan of attacking him personally with racial slurs, for which he has provided no evidence.

“I strongly protest the accusations today that Taiwan is instigating racist attacks in the international community,” Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen said on April 9. “For years, we have been excluded from international organizations, and we know better than anyone else what it feels like to be discriminated against and isolated.”

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