May 20, 2004

Taiwan: Twenty-five countries voted for Taiwan's WHO bid

Minister thanks countries that voted for Taiwan, including a few who maintain no official ties with the country

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday expressed gratitude to the US and Japan for their support of Taiwan's eighth application to enter the World Health Or-ganization (WHO).

The bid failed after 133 countries voted against it on Monday at the annual summit of the World Healthy Assembly (WHA) in Geneva.

President Chen Shui-bian and Minister of Foreign Affairs Mark Chen stayed up until 2:30am yesterday to wait for the result of the vote.

Mark Chen thanked the nation's allies, which contributed 23 votes of the 25 votes Taiwan garnered in the assembly.

"The votes from the US and Japan have greatly encouraged us," the minister said.

"I would like to express the deepest thanks to all countries that helped us, our official allies as well as the US and Japan, which, although they do not have formal diplomatic relations with us, lent their support despite strong pressure from China," he said.

The minister said one of the main reasons Taiwan decided to call for a vote on its application for WHO observer status was that the US and Japan pledged to vote for Taiwan.

"We have made considerable progress on the health bid and will continue efforts for next year's application," he said.

All 25 EU nations voted against the application, despite top diplomats, including Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Michael Kau, having focused lobbying on big EU members.

"We feel deep regret that the EU opposed our health bid. The EU said it has great sympathy for us, but could not vote for us due to the `one China' principle," Mark Chen said.

Responding to China's so-called "carrots and sticks" statement that promised to help Taiwan join international organizations if it accepts the "one China" principle, the minister said Beijing's actions rarely follow its words.

"[Assistant US Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs] James Kelly promised that the US would vote for us in the WHO. The US has kept its promise, and that has earned our gratitude and respect," he said.

He declined to comment whether Beijing's boycott of the WHO bid would influence the president's inauguration speech tomorrow.

Jich Wen-chich , deputy director-general of the ministry's Department of International Organization, said the US' and Japan's votes had significant symbolic meaning for Taiwan's application.

"China actually tried to prevent us calling the vote," Jich said, adding that Beijing understood that votes from the US and Japan would bolster Taiwan's application.

Israel and the Philippines, which maintain no official diplomatic ties with Taiwan, withdrew from voting, despite a warning from China that it equates such a move with opposition to its policies.

Source: Taipei Times