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WHO praises Taiwan on COVID-19, but no change on participation issue

ROC Central News Agency

04/18/2020 06:24 PM

Brussels, April 17 (CNA) An official of the World Health Organization (WHO) on Friday openly praised Taiwan for its handling of the novel coronavirus outbreak but reiterated the agency's position on Taiwan's participation.

"The health authorities in Taiwan and Taiwan's CDC deserve praise. They've mounted a very good public health response in Taiwan and you can see that in numbers," Michael Ryan, executive director of the WHO's Health Emergencies Programme, said in a press conference at WHO headquarters in Geneva.

Taiwan, officially known as the Republic of China, was expelled from the WHO in 1972 after its seat at the United Nations was taken over by China in late 1971.

Since then, it has not been able to participate in the World Health Assembly (WHA), WHO's decision making body, except from 2009 to 2016 as an observer, when relations with China were relatively warm.

It has otherwise been blocked from attending the WHA by China, which sees Taiwan as part of its territory and does not want it to appear in venues that would imply it is an entity independent of China.

Taiwan has used its adept handling of the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak and China's bumbling to mount a worldwide public relations campaign to gain support for full participation in the WHO, which has been supported by many countries, including the United States.

On Friday, however, the WHO maintained its position on Taiwan, saying it has not being isolated from the WHO "technically" but that its participation is up to WHO members, as explained by Steve Solomon, the WHO's principal legal officer.

"There is two parts to this. There is the participation within the WHO governance process, within for example, the WHA, and that's an issue that member states of the organization decide," Solomon said.

"But within the technical work... there are a range of areas that we cooperate, work with, engage with Taiwanese experts, both within the context of this current pandemic and generally," he said.

Ryan said, "We are bringing the Taiwanese colleagues into the networks, the technical networks, so they can share their experience," and added that the WHO stands with professional, scientific and health experts everywhere.

In a statement, Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs acknowledged the WHO's praise of Taiwan's efforts in fighting the coronavirus and reiterated its call for the WHO to set aside politics and allow Taiwan to participate "fully" in the WHO.

As of Saturday, Taiwan had reported 398 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with six fatalities.

(By Tang Pei-chun and Emerson Lim)


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