International Opinons Politics

Blinken Prods WHO on Taiwan, but China Likely Real Target

In a statement likely heard loud and clear in Beijing, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Friday called on the World Health Organization ”to invite Taiwan to participate as an observer” at the upcoming 74th annual World Health Assembly.

China has been increasingly brazen with its rhetoric and military maneuvers concerning Taiwan, which has long asserted its independence from China. The U.S. statement comes about six weeks since China blasted Blinken and the U.S. on American soil in an embarrassing diplomatic episode in Alaska that played out before press cameras. The WHO has been criticized for being deferential or biased toward China, despite the role Beijing played in covering up information about the coronavirus in the early days of the pandemic.

Membership in the WHO is limited to countries that have joined the United Nations, which does not recognize Taiwan as separate from China. That means Taiwan is typically excluded from major health meetings and expert briefings during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, according to BBC News.

In a statement released Friday, Blinken urged the WHO to allow Taiwan to observe its upcoming assembly ”as it has in previous years, prior to objections registered by the government of the People’s Republic of China,” which asserts that Taiwan is a breakaway province.

”There is no reasonable justification for Taiwan’s continued exclusion from this forum, and the United States calls upon the WHO Director-General to invite Taiwan to participate as an observer at the WHA,” Blinken wrote.

The statement comes a few days after members of the Group of Seven, or G-7, announced their support for ”Taiwan’s meaningful participation in World Health Organization forums and the World Health Assembly. The international community should be able to benefit from the experience of all partners, including Taiwan’s successful contribution to the tackling of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

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Blinken said on Friday: ”Global health and global health security challenges do not respect borders nor recognize political disputes. Taiwan offers valuable contributions and lessons learned from its approach to these issues, and WHO leadership and all responsible nations should recognize that excluding the interests of 24 million people at the WHA serves only to imperil, not advance, our shared global health objectives.

”Taiwan is a reliable partner, a vibrant democracy, and a force for good in the world, and its exclusion from the WHA would be detrimental to our collective international efforts to get the pandemic under control and prevent future health crises. We urge Taiwan’s immediate invitation to the World Health Assembly.”

Story cited here.