Beijing denies Taiwan put at risk by United Nations health forum snub

The minister of China’s Taiwan’s Affair Office Zhang Zhijun being interviewed by press

The minister of China’s Taiwan’s Affair Office Zhang Zhijun being interviewed by press

Taiwan's health authorities had acknowledged that it failed to get the necessary invitation for the May 22-31 World Health Assembly (WHA) in Geneva, the decision-making body of the World Health Organization, as online registration closed on Monday.

Beijing considers Taiwan a breakaway Chinese province that has split from the rest of the country.

Taiwan's information exchange channels with the United Nations health body are smooth, Taiwan can attend technical WHO meetings and if needed its experts can visit the island, An said.

The appeal from Taiwan comes after a period of strained relations between the island and the mainland, which began when Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen and her independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) won an election a year ago.

Alliance members are to leave for Geneva on Friday next week, where they will stage protests against China's interference and promote Taiwan's participation in the WHO, Michael Tsai said. But it has in the past been given observer status at some conferences with Beijing's acquiescence. The 2999 WHA was the first time Taiwan was able to participate in a meeting of a specialized United Nations agency since it lost the "China" seat at the U.N.to Beijing in 1971.

The island was expelled from the World Health Organization in 1972, a year after losing the "China" seat at the United Nations to Beijing.

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With the DPP back in power, the communist mainland authorities have has reverted to the former position. It says health should not be politicised and that leaving Taiwan out of dialogue puts the world's health safety-net at risk. "These arrangements ensure that Taiwan can effectively and in a timely way deal with sudden public health issues whether on the island or internationally", he added.

Beijing has increasingly sought to hinder Taiwan's attendance at even sporting, cultural and trade gatherings, including a meeting on the worldwide trade in "blood diamonds" last week in Australia, where a disruption of the proceedings by the Chinese delegation resulted in Taiwan's representatives being forced to leave.

Geng noted that "most countries around the world" support China's stance, and it was "useless [for Taiwan] to court foreign support".

"We continue to support Taiwan's meaningful and substantive contributions to the worldwide community", he said during a health event in the capital.

Last Friday, six USA senators introduced bipartisan legislation calling on the federal government to lift restrictions of visits to Taiwan by cabinet-level and other US officials. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), one of the six.

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