(CNA) With the 73rd session of the World Health Assembly (WHA) five days away, 14 of Taiwan’s diplomatic allies have put forth a proposal for the issue of Taiwan’s exclusion to be put on the agenda.
The request was made in letters sent separately to World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus by the governments of all of Taiwan’s allies, with the exception of the Vatican.
The Vatican is not a member state of the WHO, but participates as an observer in the organization’s decision-making body, the WHA.
In their letters, the 14 governments said it was important that no one be left out of the global health network, especially as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread.
Taiwan’s inclusion “would greatly enhance the global fight against and prevention of epidemics, thereby both guaranteeing the right to health of Taiwan’s 23 million people and also benefiting the world,” the letters said.
The countries urged the WHO to grant Taiwan full access to all of its meetings, mechanisms, and activities and to invite Taiwan to participate in the WHA as an observer.
The letter sent by the government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines points out specifically that from 2009 to 2016, Taiwan participated in the WHA as an observer, but this status was taken away after President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) was elected.
“It is unacceptable for Taiwan to be punished because its people democratically elected someone to the Presidency of Taiwan who happens not to meet with the approval of the People’s Republic of China,” the letter said.
The letter commended Taiwan for its “exceptional response” to the COVID-19 pandemic and said Taiwan has also assisted many countries in their fight against the disease.
“If ever there is a time in which Taiwan deserves to be part of the WHA as an observer, it is now, at the time of COVID-19,” the St. Vincent and the Grenadines government said in its letter.
The WHA is scheduled to hold its 73rd session May 18-19, but it will be a virtual meeting due to travel restrictions amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the WHO.
Taiwan has not yet received an invitation to attend, despite international support from many countries, including the United States, Japan and New Zealand.