As the World Health Assembly (WHA), the decision-making body of the World Health Organization (WHO), is soon to hold its annual meeting, State Department spokesman Ned Price said in an exclusive interview with the Voice of America on Friday (May 14) that the United States “absolutely supports” Taiwan’s attendance as an observer at the upcoming WHA. . Responding to Beijing’s accusations that such support from Washington violates the “One China” principle, the spokesman said the United States operates under “our ‘One China Policy. .
The 74th annual World Health Assembly will be held this year in Geneva from May 24 to June 1. State Department spokesman Condoleezza Price reiterated the U.S. position in support of Taiwan’s participation in the WHO as an observer in a Skype interview with the Voice of America on Friday.
We absolutely support Taiwan’s attendance as an observer at the upcoming World Health Assembly,” he said. This was made clear by Secretary Blinken in a statement issued more than a week ago. In that statement, Secretary Blinken noted that viruses don’t pay attention to borders. The purpose of the World Health Assembly is to develop strategies, global strategies for future health. We need participating countries and entities and participants to have experiences to share. Taiwan as an observer to the WHO Assembly will be able to share its successes in fighting the new coronavirus, 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, nothing to do with the virus. That’s why we continue to support Taiwan’s participation.”
The State Department spokesperson then added that another reason the United States believes it is important to allow Taiwan to participate in the WHO is that “we want to see if the WHO will be an effective forum. We want to see the WHO become an effective global forum to not only harvest the lessons learned from the coronavirus, but to use those lessons learned to make sure that the world is better able to deal with public health threats in the future, whether it’s a virus or whether it’s something else that would pose a threat. So we’re going to continue to push for that.”
Price said the United States will continue to push for Taiwan’s participation in the World Health Assembly.
Secretary of State Blinken and other foreign ministers of seven major industrialized democracies issued a joint statement May 5 at the Group of Seven (G7) Foreign Ministers meeting in London supporting Taiwan’s observer status at the World Health Assembly.
In a May 7 statement, “Restoring Taiwan to its rightful place in 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 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 “seriously violates the one-China principle and the provisions of the three U.S.-China joint communiqués, and seriously interferes in China’s internal affairs, to which China expresses its strong dissatisfaction and resolute opposition.”
She said, “There is only one China in the world. Taiwan’s participation in international organizations, including WHO activities, must be handled in accordance with the one-China principle, which is also the fundamental principle confirmed by UN General Assembly Resolution 2758 and World Health Assembly Resolution 25.1.”
VOA 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 World Health Assembly, Taiwan’s representative to the U.S., Mei-Chin Hsiao, said Friday at a briefing for Chinese media in Twin Oaks, Washington, 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 the signs are there to see that in addition to the U.S. that has been strongly supporting us, there are slowly more like-minded countries that are willing to come and support Taiwan’s meaningful participation in the WHO.”
As for whether Taiwan will be able to participate in this year’s WHO meeting, 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 a final push.”