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U.S. State Dept. calls for Taiwan to receive WHA observer status

ROC Central News Agency

04/04/2020 12:43 PM

Washington, April 3 (CNA) The United States State Department on Friday called for Taiwan to receive observer status in the World Health Assembly (WHA), and said Taiwan's model for fighting the COVID-19 coronavirus could benefit countries around the world.

"Taiwan is a leader in preventing the spread of COVID-19. The United States and Taiwan hope to share the Taiwan Model with countries around the world. Taiwan has a role to play in global health and should be a World Health Assembly observer," the department's Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs tweeted.

The two countries have closely collaborated on public health efforts in recent weeks, as the U.S. deals with a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases, which numbered 277,000 as of Friday, and have resulted in 7,141 deaths.

In a speech on Wednesday, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) announced a donation of 10 million surgical face masks to countries hard hit by the coronavirus, of which 2 million masks will be allocated to the U.S.

Taiwan is also shipping 100,000 masks per week to the U.S. under a bilateral epidemic prevention cooperation agreement, according to Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA).

On Monday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he would push for an "appropriate role" for Taiwan at the WHA -- the policy-setting body of the World Health Organization (WHO).

Taiwan participated in WHA events as an observer from 2009-2016 under the designation "Chinese Taipei" when relations between Beijing and Taipei were good under the previous ruling party Kuomintang, which had accepted the concept that the two sides are a part of one China, with each side free to interpret what that means.

Since 2017, however, Taiwan has been excluded from the United Nations-affiliated body, due to opposition from China, which has objected to Taiwan's new ruling Democratic Progressive Party rejecting that concept.

On Tuesday, Taiwanese and American officials also held a virtual forum to discuss efforts to reinstate Taiwan's WHA observer status, and to share its "successful and internationally lauded" model for fighting COVID-19 with countries around the world, the State Department said in a press release Thursday.

(By Stacy Hsu and Matthew Mazzetta)

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