WHO Member States Decide Against Inviting Taiwan To Annual Assembly Amid Chinese Pressure

Member states of the World Health Organization (WHO) have decided not to invite Taiwan to the organization’s annual World Health Assembly (WHA) in Geneva, following an appeal from China to keep the island nation sidelined. This marks the eighth consecutive year that Taiwan has been excluded from the assembly since 2017.

Taiwan’s exclusion is largely due to objections from China, which considers the democratically governed island its territory and opposes its participation in most international organizations. From 2009 to 2016, Taiwan attended the WHA as an observer under a previous administration that had signed trade and tourism agreements with China.

China’s permanent representative to the U.N. in Geneva, Chen Xu, claimed that there was no political basis for Taiwan to participate in the WHA and accused Taiwanese officials of deliberately politicizing the issue of health. He dismissed calls for Taiwan’s inclusion as a means to better prevent pandemics, calling them “pure nonsense.”

Taiwanese Health Minister Chiu Tai-yuan, who traveled to Geneva with a delegation of health experts and legislators, argued that Taiwan’s absence from the assembly was hindering pandemic prevention efforts. He emphasized that Taiwan’s participation in the WHA and WHO is a matter of health, not politics.

The decision to exclude Taiwan has been criticized by many, including U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who stated that Taiwan’s exceptional capabilities and approaches offer considerable value to inform the WHA’s deliberations and that its exclusion undermines global public health cooperation and security.

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