CHEN: China needs to stop blocking Taiwan from the WHO

03-Feb-2020 Intellasia | Toronto Sun | 6:02 AM Print This Post

When pandemics strike, it is crucial that all countries are able to work together to manage and combat the threat. This is especially true with the novel coronavirus that has been rapidly spreading from the Chinese city of Wuhan to different parts of the world, including Taiwan and Canada.

UN Agencies, such as the World Health Organization (WHO), International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), and more must be able to operate and cooperate with all nations, free of political consideration.

However, despite Taiwan having proven consistently that it is a capable and willing partner in the international community, China has prevented the WHO and ICAO from providing Taiwan with the access, information and supports afforded to all other nations. Extraordinarily, Beijing has barred Taiwanese experts from participating in emergency WHO meetings in Geneva, even though there are confirmed coronavirus cases in Taiwan.

China insists that Taiwan must adhere to its ‘One China’ principle in order to access this crucial information and support. Clearly, China’s position is irresponsible. Blocking Taiwan is a violation of the WHO’s own charter principles of “health for all.”

Not only does this directly put at risk 23.5 million people in Taiwan, but it also creates gaps in disease management and treatment. If the disease is spread or inadequately treated as a result of China, the WHO, and ICAO not allowing Taiwan’s participation in international fora, people all around the world, including in Canada, are at risk.

For these reasons, China has a responsibility to be transparent, cooperative, and committed to putting human health above political considerations. The people of Taiwan, like all people, have a right to contribute to and receive support from the WHO in order to prevent the spread of infectious diseases.

Fortunately, Ottawa has once again indicated that it is with Taiwan.

On Wednesday, prime minister Justin Trudeau responded to a question from Conservative MP Michael Cooper, confirming that the government of Canada, as during the time of the SARS virus, “supports Taiwan’s meaningful participation in international multilateral forums especially when its presence provides important contributions to the global public good.”

He went on to say that “We believe that Taiwan’s role as an observer in World Health Assembly meetings is in the best interests of the international health community and is also an important partner in the fight…we welcome participation from the entire international community to promote global health. That is why we have long taken this position.”

The prime minister’s remarks, as well as the all party support being shown toward Taiwan, is a very positive step. We will continue to work closely with the Canadian government and other like-minded countries to seek the re-invitation of Taiwan to an observer role at the WHO. We are grateful that Canada has shown moral leadership at this crucial juncture, and we hope that the rest of the world may follow suit.


Category: Taiwan

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