Taiwan: Lashes China for Blocking WHO Observer Role
China, which views the self-ruled island as a breakaway province
and opposes its participation in most international organisations, has blocked
Taiwan's WHO bid for years, even during the 2003 SARS crisis.
In a statement issued on Saturday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs "strongly condemns China for manoeuvring its political clout to block a proposal concerning Taiwan's observer status at the World Health Assembly (WHA)" in May.
The proposal was rejected by the WHO executive board this week after submissions by Taiwan allies Belize, Honduras and Nicaragua, who, due to international pressure from Beijing, are among only 25 countries that formally recognise the island.
"China's latest blockage of Taiwan's WHA participation comes at a time when global disease-prevention cooperation is desperately needed to contain the increasingly rapid spread of avian flu," the ministry said.
Earlier this month, China refused to invite Taiwan to send representatives to a Beijing conference on avian and human pandemic influenza, the ministry said.
The avian flu virus has killed more than 80 people and forced the culling of more than 150 million birds worldwide. Taiwan has yet to experience an outbreak of the deadly H5N1 strain of the virus.
The ministry said the move showed China's hypocrisy towards the island in light of Beijing's recent offer to give Taiwan two pandas. "Why make a very visible offer of goodwill toward Taiwan with two lovely pandas, yet stifle the basic health rights of the 23 million people of Taiwan?" the ministry said.
"This policy is one that will not be helpful to the long-term and positive development of cross-Strait relations."
Beijing says Taiwan is not qualified to take part in the WHO,
a U.N. body where it says membership should be limited to sovereign states.
Taiwan -- whose official title is the Republic of China -- was ejected from
the United Nations in 1971 and replaced by the communist People's Republic.