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DPP authorities should contemplate their rejection from WHA membership

Xu Mengxi

The World Health Organization (WHO) headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, May 21, 2023. /Xinhua
The World Health Organization (WHO) headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, May 21, 2023. /Xinhua

The World Health Organization (WHO) headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, May 21, 2023. /Xinhua

Editor's note: Xu Mengxi, a special commentator on current affairs for CGTN, is a member of the China Public Relations Association and a former journalist on covering Taiwan affairs, cross-Straits relations and international issues. The article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily the views of CGTN.

The 77th World Health Assembly (WHA) is being held in Geneva, Switzerland, from May 27 to June 1. Unsurprisingly, the Taiwan region has again failed to receive an invitation for the eighth consecutive year. Why cannot Taiwan attend the WHA?

This is an expected result that is widely supported by political parties and international organizations around the globe. As Taiwan is an inalienable part of China's territory, and the government of the People's Republic of China is the sole legal government representing the whole of China, Taiwan's participation in WHA should be handled under the one-China principle, a basic principle endorsed in the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 2758 and WHA Resolution 25.1.

Taiwan was allowed to attend WHA as an observer from 2009 to 2016, during which both sides of the Taiwan Straits adhered to the 1992 Consensus that embodies the one-China principle. Under such circumstances, China made arrangements for Taiwan's attendance at the Assembly. This shows that whether Taiwan can participate in an international organization is essentially a domestic issue that shouldn't be pointed fingers at by any other country.

However, as the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) authorities have refused to admit the 1992 Consensus and stubbornly followed the separatist stance of "Taiwan independence" since 2016, the political basis for Taiwan's participation in the WHA no longer exists. The latest example of the new leader of China's Taiwan region Lai Ching-te's speech on the "two-state" theory, contending that Taiwan and the Chinese mainland are "not subordinate to each other," is solid proof of violation of the 1992 Consensus, which leads to a deeper mistrust between both sides of the Straits.

In fact, the DPP authorities have conducted a lot of international lobbying concerning its attendance at WHA in recent years. They advocate that they are a crucial part of the global health system. However, the truth is DPP authorities do not take the health of the people in Taiwan seriously. For example, during the COVID-19 pandemic, it refused to introduce the COVID-19 vaccine from the Chinese mainland due to its political bias.

However, China has always cared about the health and well-being of compatriots in Taiwan and has made proper arrangements for Taiwan's participation in global health initiatives. Over the past year, a total of 21 batches of 24 medical experts from Taiwan have participated in technical activities organized by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Pedestrians walk on the street in Taipei City, southeast China's Taiwan, November 28, 2023. /CFP
Pedestrians walk on the street in Taipei City, southeast China's Taiwan, November 28, 2023. /CFP

Pedestrians walk on the street in Taipei City, southeast China's Taiwan, November 28, 2023. /CFP

The DPP authorities aim to internationalize the Taiwan question and malign the Chinese mainland for "suppressing" Taiwan to garner support and sympathy from the international community, thereby strengthening their "control" over the island. While the U.S. and its allies have made political gestures to demonstrate their "support" for the Taiwan region, local authorities and residents should recognize that such malicious actions are bound to fail and could further harm cross-Straits relations.

For example, the U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on May 1 expressed strong encouragement for the WHO to extend an invitation to the Taiwan region to attend this year's WHA as an observer. But as mentioned earlier, Taiwan's involvement in any international organizations should adhere to the one-China principle and be contingent upon the Taiwan authorities' acknowledgment of the 1992 Consensus. This is a basic need that local authorities should meet and has nothing to do with any foreign forces.

Taiwan's failure to be part of the WHA demonstrates that the international community has a clear and broad consensus on the Taiwan question, and fully understands that the one-China principle is a globally accepted consensus and is the basic norm of contemporary international relations.

It is now obvious that the DPP authorities' intention of participating in the WHA is not about the public health in Taiwan, but to maximize its political advantage by playing a political farce on the international stage. The new DPP authorities should reflect on the real reason behind their rejection of the international organization. As the Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said, challenging the one-China principle will only lead to a dead end.

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