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Taiwan to send delegation to WHA meeting even without invitation
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Taipei, May 3 (CNA) Taiwan will send a delegation to Geneva for the annual World Health Assembly (WHA) later in May even if it does not receive an invitation to attend the meeting, Health and Welfare Minister Chen Shih-chung said Wednesday.

At a hearing held by the Legislature's Social Welfare and Environmental Hygiene Committee, Chen said the government is preparing to go to Geneva and make its presence felt while the WHA is in session even without an invitation.

The WHA, the decision-making body of the World Health Organization (WHO), is scheduled to hold its 2017 session from May 22 to May 31.

Taiwan wants to attend the meeting as an observer, as has been the case for the past eight years. The deadline for online registration for this year's WHA session is May 8, and Taiwan is still holding out hope to receive an invitation by then.

Many believe an invitation will not be forthcoming because of Beijing's ongoing campaign to suppress Taiwan's participation in international organizations.

That campaign has intensified since President Tsai Ing-wen of the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party took office in May 2016.

At the hearing, Chen said the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW) has been trying to forge closer ties with many countries to secure support for Taiwan's bid to attend the WHA meeting.

Chen said the government has also not ruled out the possibility of holding an international news conference in Geneva as the WHA meeting is being held as a sign of protest if Taiwan is not invited by the WHO to attend the session as an observer.

Holding an international news conference would be just one way the Taiwanese delegation could protest, Chen said, but he did not mention what other options the delegation might have.

He said the MOHW and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will continue to work hard on the WHA bid, but would not disclose details of their efforts, saying it was not the right time to do so.

Tsai has repeatedly sent out tweets to solicit international support for Taiwan's WHA bid, pointing to the country's contribution to the international community by providing medical assistance to millions of patients around the world.