New Zealand Says It Backs Taiwan’s Role in WHO Due to Success With COVID-19

May 8, 2020 Updated: May 8, 2020

WELLINGTON—New Zealand on Friday weighed in on the debate around whether Taiwan should be allowed to join the World Health Organisation (WHO), saying the country has a lot to offer given its success in limiting the spread of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus.

“Taiwan has something to offer at the WHO right at the moment,” Finance Minister Grant Robertson said at a news conference when asked if New Zealand would support Taiwan’s inclusion in WHO as an observer.

Robertson was addressing a daily media briefing on the country’s fight against the CCP virus.

Taiwan’s exclusion from the U.N. body, due to objections from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in Beijing, which claims the island as one of its provinces, has isolated the Taiwanese government. Despite not having access to the WHO’s information, Taiwan has reported fewer cases of CCP virus than many neighbours due to early detection and prevention work. It was the first country to report concerns about the CCP virus to the WHO in December 2019, when it urged for transparent information on the situation from China.

Robertson said Taiwan has employed a number of successful methods of dealing with the virus, and have a number of epidemiologists and public health experts who have provided a great deal of advice that many countries have benefited from.

“They have been an observer at the WHO in the past and I think in this time of the post COVID-19 crisis, there is room for them to be there again,” he said.

Foreign Minister Winston Peters told local media, “You’ve got to have every organisation in the world in the WHO if it’s to have any meaning.” He said he had supported that position for 30 years. “In the interests on international health you want every country in an international organisation designed to improve the world’s health. It’s just logic.”

Taiwan attended the World Health Assembly as an observer from 2009-2016, but China blocked further participation after the election of Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, whom China accuses of being a separatist—a charge she rejects.

Earlier this week, New Zealand’s Foreign Minister Winston Peters told reporters at Parliament on May 5 that he has supported Taiwan’s position “for 30 years.”

“In the interests on international health you want every country in an international organisation designed to improve the world’s health. It’s just logic,” he said.

Charles Finny, chairman of the Taiwan New Zealand Business Council, welcomed Peters’ comments.

“On issues like this, it is important to put politics to one side and have everyone in the room to try and address what is a global problem,” Finny told the New Zealand Herald.

“It’s a nonsense having 24 million people in a full democracy who travel here in large numbers, who travel around the world in large numbers very close to the epicentre of all this, not included in the global process.”

The United States and Australia, among others, have supported Taiwan’s participation at the assembly as an observer, adding to tension with China over its handling of the CCP virus.

Robertson said New Zealand continues to strongly value the relationship with China, its biggest trading partner.

“It’s a relationship with a lot of depth, it’s a relationship where we have come over time to rely on one another and support one another. Nothing has changed about that at all,” he added.

Epoch Times staff contributed to this report.