International Group of Lawmakers Call for Taiwan to Be Included at WHO Meeting

November 3, 2020 Updated: November 3, 2020

A global coalition of lawmakers is calling on the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) to allow Taiwan to participate in the upcoming World Health Assembly (WHA) and the health body’s meetings and activities. The assembly is the WHO’s decision-making body.

“The international community needs the world-leading expertise Taiwan has developed to control the virus,” the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC) said in a Nov. 2 statement.

“Taiwan has unique contributions to offer in the advanced production of critical medical supplies, application of strenuous contact tracing, and the use of big data and digital technology.

“We urge the WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, to consider his own words when he said that ‘No one is safe until everyone is safe,’” according to the statement.

The 73rd WHA will reconvene on Nov. 9. It previously held a virtual meeting in May.

Taiwan, currently not a member of the WHO, wasn’t invited to the WHA meeting in May.

The IPAC, established earlier this year to coordinate policies among democratic nations to address the Chinese regime’s threats, touted Taiwan’s model in containing the spread of the CCP virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus.

As of Nov. 3, Taiwan has 567 confirmed infection cases and seven deaths related to the virus. Its last locally transmitted case was reported more than 200 days ago, on April 12.

Additionally, the coalition applauded Taiwan’s ability to contain the outbreak while maintaining a low impact on its economy and its people’s way of life.

Taiwan employed vigorous contact tracing and a combination of early responses, including screening travelers from China, and at the same time, it has allowed its businesses and schools to remain open without putting cities on lockdown.

Taiwan’s economy grew 3.33 percent in the third quarter compared to a year ago, outperforming Singapore, Hong Kong, and South Korea, whose economies contracted 7 percent, 3.4 percent, and 1.3 percent, respectively.

Despite Taiwan’s success in handling COVID-19 and its willingness to donate medical supplies to governments around the world, Taiwan has continued to be excluded from the world body.

“The WHO Western Pacific Regional Office (WPRO) still refuses to contact or interact with Taiwan. Taiwan also has no access to WHO COVID-19 Reference Laboratory Networks. Over 70% of Taiwan’s applications to attend technical meetings have been denied,” the IPAC stated.

“This not only threatens the health and well-being of Taiwan’s citizens, but also creates a dangerous gap in the global network.”

From 2009 to 2016, Taiwan’s health ministers were allowed to take part in the WHA as observers. But in the years thereafter, Beijing has prevented Taiwan from taking part in the assembly and its meetings.

Beijing opposes Taiwan taking part in any international organizations because it sees the island as a part of its territory, despite the fact that the self-ruled island has a functioning democratic government with its own military, currency, and constitution.

Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed gratitude in a statement on its Twitter account: “The truth is #TaiwanCanHelp bolster global #Coronavirus-combating efforts & save lives.”

U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Fla.) and Benedict Rogers, chief executive of British NGO Hong Kong Watch, both took to their Twitter accounts to welcome the IPAC support.

“#Taiwan has more than earned its place in the #WHA with its contributions to global public health & work to save lives during the #COVID19 #pandemic. The time to restore Taiwan’s observer status is now,” Yoho stated.

Rogers wrote: “It’s madness to exclude #Taiwan from @WHO when Taiwan has shown such exemplary leadership in fighting #COVID19.”

Recently, 106 European lawmakers from countries including Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania also sent joint letters to Ghebreyesus calling for Taiwan’s participation in the upcoming WHA meeting.

Follow Frank on Twitter: @HwaiDer