From May 24 to June 1, the World Health Assembly (WHA) will hold its 74th annual meeting in Geneva. State Department spokesman Ned Price said Friday, May 14, that the United States “absolutely supports” Taiwan’s attendance at the WHA as an observer.
Price made the statement in an interview with the Voice of America on Friday. He said, “We absolutely support Taiwan’s attendance as an observer at the upcoming World Health Assembly. That was clearly stated by Secretary Blinken in a statement issued more than a week ago.”
Price spoke of the World Health Assembly’s purpose of developing a global strategy for health in the future. “We need countries and entities in attendance and participants who can share their experiences.” He argued that as a World Health Assembly observer, Taiwan can share its successful experiences and practices in fighting the New Coronavirus (CCA virus) and other diseases and public health threats with countries so “we can learn the best lessons from around the world.”
On May 7, Secretary of State Blinken issued a statement entitled “Restoring Taiwan to its rightful place at the World Health Assembly. The statement said, “Global health and security challenges defy borders or political disputes. The valuable contributions Taiwan provides and the lessons she has learned from addressing these topics should be recognized by WHO leadership and all responsible countries.”
In his statement, Blinken emphasized that excluding the interests of Taiwan’s 24 million people from the World Health Assembly would only jeopardize common global health goals.
On May 5, foreign ministers from seven leading democracies, including Blinken, met in London for a meeting of the Group of Seven (G7) foreign ministers. At the meeting, the foreign ministers issued a joint statement unanimously supporting Taiwan’s participation in the World Health Assembly as an observer.
At a press conference on May 10, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying slammed Blinken’s support for Taiwan’s participation in the WHA as a “serious violation of the one-China principle” and “serious interference in China’s internal affairs,” and expressed The U.S. side is “strongly dissatisfied” and “resolutely opposed”.
In response, Price responded in an interview that it is unjustified to exclude a particular participant on grounds that have nothing to do with public health or viruses. He also said that the U.S. support for Taiwan’s participation in the World Health Assembly does not violate the “One China” principle.
Price said the U.S. government has a series of documents that explain the “One China” policy and that the United States “will allow us to engage with the people of Taiwan while maintaining the important status quo. That’s what we want to see continue. As a result, the United States will continue to promote Taiwan’s participation in the World Health Assembly.
In response to the U.S. support, Taiwan’s representative to the U.S., Mei-Chin Hsiao, thanked the U.S. at a May 14 press briefing. She said, “All indications are that in addition to the U.S., which has been strongly supporting us, there are slowly more like-minded other countries that are willing to come and support Taiwan’s meaningful participation in the WHO.”