WHO meet goes ahead without Taiwan after China’s objections

A man waves a Taiwanese flag during a rally (AFP via Getty Images)
A man waves a Taiwanese flag during a rally (AFP via Getty Images)

Taiwan failed to secure an invitation to the World Health Organisation's (WHO) annual assembly despite the island's assertion that support was growing for its participation.

The annual assembly in Geneva decided not to extend Taiwan an invitation to the event, which runs from 21-30 May following protests from China.

Pakistan and China reportedly urged members to reject Taiwan's inclusion, while Eswatini and the Marshall Islands spoke in its favour.

Chen Xu, China's permanent representative to the UN office in Geneva, said there was only "One China" in the world and Taiwan is an inalienable part of the Asian giant governed by Beijing.

Taiwan's participation in WHO activities must be handled under the one-China principle, he said, according to Xinhua.

He added that the actions taken by the DPP (Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party) authorities are aimed at creating “two Chinas”.

China has beefed up its military activities around the self-governed island in recent years, arguing that Taipei is obliged to reunite with Beijing, by force if necessary. Beijing frowns on Taiwan's diplomatic and bilateral ties with foreign nations.

Taipei condemned the WHO decision. It said it was "contemptible" of China to block its participation in global bodies and Beijing had no right to speak for the island.

"Only Taiwan's democratically elected government can represent Taiwan's 23 million people in the WHO and other international organisations and protect the health and human rights of the Taiwanese people," its foreign ministry said.

Taiwan said it is allowed to attend some of the technical WHO meetings but its exclusion from the body hindered efforts to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.

China welcomed the move, claiming that prior to the conference nearly 100 countries expressed their adherence to the “One China” policy.

"This fully shows that the One China principle is the aspiration of the people and the trend of the times in the international community and cannot be challenged in any way," the Chinese foreign ministry said in a statement.

"China also urges certain countries not to pretend to be confused, stop politicizing the health issue, stop interfering in China's internal affairs under the pretext of the Taiwan issue, and stop the erroneous practice of using 'Taiwan to control China'," the ministry said.