WHO Says It Cannot Invite Taiwan to Annual Summit after China Says Participation Would ‘Severely Violate the One-China Principle’

The World Health Organization said it could not invite Taiwan to an upcoming international health summit, despite pleas from the U.S. and its allies, due to “divergent views,” after China said it “deplores and opposes” efforts to include Taipei in the gathering.

WHO principal legal officer Steven Solomon explained to reporters on Monday that the WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom could not invite Taiwan — which is not a member of the WHO — to participate in the annual meeting of the World Health Assembly (WHA) if members of the international body disagreed.

“To put it crisply, director-generals only extend invitations when it’s clear that member states support doing so, that director-generals have a mandate, a basis to do so,” Solomon explained. “Today however, the situation is not the same. Instead of clear support, there are divergent views among member states and no basis there for — no mandate — for the DG to extend an invitation.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said last week that Tedros should include Taiwan in the upcoming WHA meeting, saying “he has the power to do, and as his predecessors have done on multiple occasions.” The proposal was supported by New Zealand, Canada, Australia, and Germany, but China disparaged the claim, saying that those supporting it “severely violate the one-China principle.”

Last month, Tedros himself accused Taiwan of racist “attacks” over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, an allegation that Taiwan denied as “unprovoked and untrue.” Tedros’s claim came after Taiwan said in March that the organization had ignored its December warnings that human-to-human transmission of coronavirus was possible. The WHO tweeted on January 14 that “Preliminary investigations conducted by the Chinese authorities have found no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission.”

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