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ROC Central News Agency

2007-05-15 09:41:37

    Taipei, May 15 (CNA) The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) expressed deep regrets and dissatisfaction Tuesday over the results of a vote at the opening session of the World Health Assembly (WHA) a day earlier in which Taiwan's bid to join the World Health Organization (WHO) as a full member was rebuffed.

    The WHA, the decision-making arm of the WHO, approved Monday a Russian motion by a vote of 148-17 with two abstentions to strike discussion of Taiwan's membership bid off the agenda of this week's annual meeting of the world health regulatory body.

    All major countries, including the United States, Japan, European Union member states and Canada, didn't give their weight behind Taiwan's WHO bid because of their "one China" policy, under which they think Taiwan doesn't qualify a WHO seat that requires statehood.

    In the vote, only 17 of Taiwan's diplomatic allies threw their weight behind Taiwan's cause. Much to Taiwan's disappointment, Costa Rica cast a negative vote -- the only Taiwan ally to do so.

    Four other allies -- Panama, Nicaragua, the Marshall Islands and Saint Lucia -- were absent from the session, while Haiti abstained from the voting. As to its remaining two allies, the Dominican Republic has no voting right, while the Vatican is not a WHO member.

    Despite the absence of diplomatic ties, the Philippines didn't vote against Taiwan but instead adstained from the voting.

    MOFA spokesman Wang Chien-yeh said Taiwan appreciates all the support extended by its allies in its pursuit of WHO accession. Despite the defeat, he said the government will not be daunted by any challenges and adversities that may lie ahead and will continue going all out for its quest for WHO representation to maintain local people's health rights.

    Nevertheless, Wang didn't hide the government's unhappiness and regret over the results. He said the MOFA will study why Costa Rica voted against Taiwan's membership bid and why the four other allies failed to attend the session to extend a helping hand.

    The vote was the first of its kind as Taiwan didn't apply for WHO membership until this year. In the past decade, Taiwan has only sought to gain observer status within the WHA, but such efforts have consistently been dashed by China's obstruction.

    For many years, Taiwan had to fight epidemics alone without any assistance from the WHO due to China's objections. In recent years, Taiwan has managed to gain limited access to WHO activities. But all communications between the two sides must be addressed to China, a fact that could jeopardize Taiwan's ability to cope with major medical emergencies and create gaps in the global health monitoring system.

    Wang said Taiwan's continued quest for meaningful WHO participation is not only aimed at asserting Taiwan people's health rights but also at arousing world attention to the potential threat to the global epidemic control network with Taiwan's exclusion from the system.

(By Sofia Wu)


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