In an exclusive interview with the Voice of America on May 14, State Department spokesman Ned Price said the United States “absolutely supports” Taiwan’s participation as an observer at the upcoming World Health Assembly (WHA). In response to Beijing’s accusation that Washington’s support violates the “One China” principle, he said the United States is operating under “our ‘One China Policy’.
The 74th annual meeting of the WHA will be held this year in Geneva from May 24 to June 1. In an interview, State Department spokesman Condoleezza Price again expressed the U.S. position of supporting Taiwan’s participation in the WHA as an observer.
Price said on May 14 that the United States absolutely supports Taiwan’s participation as an observer at the upcoming WHA, adding that it makes no sense to exclude a particular participant on grounds that have nothing to do with public health or viruses.
We absolutely support Taiwan’s participation as an observer at the upcoming WHA,” he said, “as Secretary Blinken made clear in a statement issued more than a week ago. In that statement, Secretary Blinken noted that viruses don’t care about borders and that the purpose of the WHA is to develop strategies, global health strategies for the future. We need the countries and entities and participants in attendance to have experiences to share.”
“Taiwan, as an observer at WHA, will be able to share its successes in fighting the new coronavirus (the Chinese communist virus), its successes in fighting other diseases and public health threats. We need to be able to learn the best lessons from around the world. It makes no sense to exclude any particular participant on the grounds that it has nothing to do with public health and nothing to do with the virus. That’s why we continue to support Taiwan’s participation.” Price said.
The State Department spokesman later added that another reason the United States believes it is important to allow Taiwan to participate in the WHA is that “we want to see if the WHA will be an effective forum. We want to see the WHA become an effective global forum to not only harvest the lessons learned from the coronavirus [the Chinese communist virus], but to use those lessons to make sure that this world is better able to deal with public health threats in the future, whether it’s a virus or something that would pose a threat. So we’re going to continue to push for that.”
Price said the U.S. will continue to push for Taiwan’s participation in the WHA.
Secretary of State Blinken and other foreign ministers from seven major industrialized democracies issued a joint statement in support of Taiwan’s observer status in the WHA at the Group of Seven (G7) Foreign Ministers meeting in London on May 5.
In a May 7 statement, “Restoring Taiwan to its rightful place at the World Health Assembly,” Secretary Blinken said, “Global health and global health security challenges do not heed border or political disputes. Taiwan offers valuable contributions and the lessons it has learned from addressing these topics, and the WHO leadership and all responsible countries should recognize that excluding the interests of 24 million people from the WHO Assembly only jeopardizes, rather than advances, our shared global health goals.”
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a regular press conference in Beijing on May 10 that Blinken’s statement in question “seriously violates the one-China principle and the provisions of the three joint communiqués of China and the United States, and seriously interferes in the internal affairs of China (the Communist Party), to which China expresses its strong dissatisfaction and resolute opposition.”
The reporter asked Price how Beijing’s “One China Principle” differs from Washington’s “One China Policy”. Does the United States support the Chinese Communist Party’s claim to sovereignty over Taiwan?
To this Price replied: “We operate under our ‘One China Policy. We have a series of documents and an understanding that allows us to engage with the people of Taiwan while maintaining the important status quo. That’s what we would like to see continued.”
In response to Taiwan’s participation in the WHA, Republic of China Representative to the U.S. Michelle Hsiao said Friday at the Twin Oaks Chinese media briefing in Washington, D.C., that Taiwan appreciates the strong support of the U.S. State Department.
She said, “Under the leadership and diplomatic operation of the United States, we are grateful that the G7 foreign ministers have also made a statement of support for Taiwan’s international participation. I think all the signs are there that in addition to the U.S. always supporting us, other countries with similar philosophies are slowly becoming more willing to support Taiwan’s meaningful participation in the WHO.”
As for whether Taiwan will be able to participate in this year’s WHA, Hsiao said, “I believe that whether it’s our good friends on the U.S. side, or our colleagues around the world and in Geneva, we are all still making our final efforts.”