On the eve of the World Health Assembly’s annual meeting from May 24 to June 1, the world’s leading industrialized nations have publicly expressed their support for Taiwan’s observer status in the World Health Assembly. The World Health Assembly is the decision-making body of the World Health Organization.
This is the first time the G7 as a whole has supported Taiwan’s participation in the World Health Assembly.
“We support Taiwan’s meaningful participation in the World Health Organization’s forums and the World Health Assembly. The international community should be able to benefit from the experiences of all partners, including Taiwan’s successful contribution to the response to the Covid-19 pandemic,” the G7 said in a joint communiqué issued after a meeting of foreign ministers in London this Wednesday (May 5).
Taiwan said it was grateful for the strong support from the G7.
“Taiwan appreciates the strong support in the communiqué from all G7 foreign ministers and the EU for our meaningful participation in WHO and the WHO Assembly. Let Taiwan help and contribute to the global health system,” the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States, Taiwan’s main representative office in the United States, said in a tweet.
Officials from Australia, India, South Africa, South Korea and Brunei were also guests at the G7 Foreign Affairs and Development Ministers meeting in London.
“We stress the importance of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait and encourage the peaceful resolution of cross-strait issues. We reiterate our strong opposition to any unilateral action that could exacerbate tensions and undermine regional stability and the rules-based international order, and express our serious concern over reports of militarization, coercion and intimidation in the region,” said a communiqué issued after the meeting.
The statement came as China is stepping up its military activities by sending planes into Taiwan’s airspace.
Bonnie Glaser, director of the Asia Program at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, said, “It is significant that on such an important occasion as the G-7, democracies are coming together in one voice to emphasize their support for Taiwan’s participation in the World Health Organization.”
The move is seen as a public rebuke to China. The government in Beijing has been preventing Taiwan’s representatives from attending WHO meetings since the election of China-skeptical Tsai Ing-wen as president in 2016 and 2020 in self-governing Taiwan.
From 2009 to 2016, during a period of relatively friendly relations between Beijing and Taipei, Taiwan’s delegates attended the World Health Assembly as non-voting observers.
Non-member states and territories can participate in the World Health Assembly as observers.
On Monday, Chinese Ambassador to the UN Zhang Jun reiterated Beijing’s opposition to inviting Taiwan to the World Health Assembly later this month.
“Our clear and firm position is that the United Nations is an organization made up of sovereign states and Taiwan is not eligible to participate in these organizations,” Zhang Jun said when asked if Taiwan should be allowed to attend the WHO as an observer.
“Beijing’s action to prevent Taiwan from joining the WHO is counterproductive” and not in the interest of the broader international community, Ge Laiyi told VOA on Wednesday.
A senior U.S. official told reporters that Taiwan has “a lot of experience” in fighting the spread of the coronavirus, which “could help us all, and excluding them seems really botched.