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Even without WHA invite, Taiwan sending delegation to Geneva
Publish Date: 2017/05/10
Update Date: 2017/05/10
Taipei, May 9 (CNA) Taiwan on Tuesday denounced its exclusion from this year's World Health Assembly (WHA) meeting but said it will still send a delegation to Geneva at the time the 10-day conference is being held.

Taiwan had hoped to once again attend the WHA, to be held in Geneva from May 22 to May 31, as an observer, but it did not receive an invitation from the World Health Organization (WHO) by the May 8 deadline for online registration because of Chinese obstruction.

The WHA is the WHO's decision-making body.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Eleanor Wang said at a regular news briefing that Health and Welfare Minister Chen Shih-chung will lead a delegation to Geneva at the time of the WHA meeting.

If the delegation is not allowed to enter the conference venue, it will still take the opportunity to hold bilateral meetings on the sidelines with delegations of participating countries, Wang said.

Taiwan will have several opportunities to exchange views on global health issues with representatives from other countries during the time of the WHA meeting, she said.

The foreign ministry also said in a statement that if the WHO "succumbs to political pressure" and ultimately decides not to invite to Taiwan to the WHA, it will affect the health rights of the 23 million people of Taiwan and create a serious loophole in the international health system.

At another news conference Tuesday, the health minister said "Taiwan's exclusion from the WHA is our loss, and it is also a loss for the international community."

The purpose of Taiwan's participation in the WHA is to ensure the health and safety of the Taiwanese people, Chen said, adding that it is also an opportunity for Taiwan to make a contribution to the world's health system.

Taiwan has developed an advanced health care system and is experienced in combating epidemics, he said.

Chen insisted that while Taiwan did not receive a WHA invitation by the registration deadline, it will continue to seek a spot at the meeting, and he noted the many countries that have supported Taiwan's WHA bid, including Australia, Japan, Germany, France, Canada and the United States.

Echoing Chen's remarks, Wang said Taiwan is still hoping to receive an invitation to the WHA before the meeting starts on May 22, but she added that Taiwan has made plans to respond to all possible scenarios.

Meanwhile, Chen said he will stress the importance of Taiwan's participation in the WHA in light of global efforts to combat epidemics if he comes across the representative from China on the sidelines of the WHA.

Taiwan first attended the WHA meeting as an observer in 2009, a year after the government of former President Ma Ying-jeou came to power and pursued a more conciliatory policy toward Beijing.

Taiwan had taken part in every WHA meeting since then, until this year.

The exclusion is widely seen as the latest move by China to clamp down on Taiwan's international participation, a strategy that has become more aggressive since Tsai Ing-wen of the Democratic Progressive Party, who is less conciliatory toward China, took power in May 2016.
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