Pompeo Urges W.H.O. to Let Taiwan Attend World Health Assembly

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks about Iran, Tuesday Jan. 7, 2020, at the State Department in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Jacquelyn Martin/AP Photo

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called on the World Health Organization (W.H.O.) to invite Taiwan to attend the World Health Assembly, a global conference to discuss public health, during remarks on Wednesday.

Pompeo spoke at a briefing in which he also noted he was “heartened” by growing mistrust of the Chinese Communist Party over its poor handling of the Chinese coronavirus pandemic, including the distribution of “shoddy” medical protective supplies.

“We need reliable partners. As a result of China’s choices, countries are starting to understand the risk of doing business with Chinese Communist Party and taking action to protect their people,” Pompeo noted. “In recent weeks, Nigeria, Kazakhstan, and France have demarched the Chinese Communist Party ambassadors for a whole host of lies and misdeeds.”

Pompeo also noted the European Union itself and several member countries have also questioned China’s diplomatic measures.

“I’m heartened by this newfound realism. The free nations of the world re starting to understand that China doesn’t share those democratic values that we hold dear or their economic interests and that this matters to the entire world,” Pompeo said. “There is no true win-win with a communist regime,” he added, hastily suggesting President Donald Trump’s trade deal with China as an exception.

“Today, I want to call upon all nations, including those in Europe, to support Taiwan’s participation as an observer at the World Health Assembly and at other relevant W.H.O. venues,” Pompeo said. “I also call upon W.H.O. Director-General Tedros [Adhanom Ghebreyesus] to invite Taiwan to observe this month’s W.H.A. as he has the power to do and as his predecessors have done on multiple occasions.”

The W.H.O. has previously turned down more than 70 percent of Taiwan’s requests for individual meetings, according to a statement by the island nation’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on April 15. Recently, Taiwan and the W.H.O. have been engaged in a public dispute over the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic, as well as the U.N. agency’s dismissive attitude toward the independent island nation.

China considers the island to be a renegade province and has successfully pressured W.H.O. officials to bar Taiwan from membership in the global health body. Taiwan is a sovereign democratic state in its own right; it has never been ruled by Beijing and functions independently with its own government.

The W.H.O.’s repeated refusal to allow Taiwan access to its activities has led outside actors, like the U.S., to lend support to Taiwan in recent weeks. The Asian nation tried to warn the W.H.O. about the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak in China in late December, long before China admitted to the viral contagion, but the global health body refused to listen to these early calls for caution.

The W.H.O. has also been criticized for listing China’s coronavirus statistics alongside Taiwan’s, as if they were part of the same country, giving a false impression that Taiwan’s coronavirus outbreak is worse than it actually is.

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