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U.S. seeking to help Taiwan regain WHO observer status: report

ROC Central News Agency

05/01/2020 03:52 PM

Washington, April 30 (CNA) The United States is reportedly seeking the support of key allies to restore Taiwan's observer status at the World Health Organization (WHO) amid an intensified confrontation with China at the time of the COVID-19 pandemic as the U.S. 2020 presidential election approaches.

Citing diplomatic sources and WHO internal meeting notes, a U.S. magazine reported Wednesday that the U.S. is seeking to solicit the backing of like-minded countries to restore Taiwan's status as an observer at the global health organization to curb the spread of the coronavirus as part of its gambit in a confrontation against China.

According to Foreign Policy magazine, the U.S. and Japan are asking countries including Australia, the United Kingdom, France and Germany to co-sign a draft letter to WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, requesting that he invite the Taiwanese delegation to the World Health Assembly -- the WHO's decision-making body -- which is expected to meet virtually in mid-May.

"There is considerable support in Washington and other foreign capitals for Taiwan -- a country of 24 million that has responded effectively to the pandemic -- to participate in WHO discussions," according to Washington, D.C.-based Foreign Policy.

In the article titled "WHO Becomes Battleground as Trump Chooses Pandemic Confrontation over Cooperation," it pointed out that some countries are concerned that such a move might trigger retaliation from China.

"But some of Washington's key allies fear Chinese reprisals if they promote Taiwan's case, and critics suspect the White House initiative is part of a broader diplomatic campaign to keep the world focused on the failings of China and the WHO to distract attention from its own shortcomings," the report said.

In an effort to meet this end, U.S. President Donald Trump announced on April 14 that he was halting U.S. funding to the WHO, accusing the group of failing to execute its "basic duty" in its response to the threat.

The move follows weeks of escalating attacks by Trump on the organization as he has sought to deflect scrutiny of his own administration's slow response to the outbreak.

On April 29, the U.S. distributed a proposal to "immediately initiate an independent expert evaluation, in consultation with member states, to review lessons learned from the WHO-coordinated international health response to COVID-19," according to the magazine, which has reviewed the confidential proposal.

At the same time, Trump's administration has boosted public health cooperation with Taiwan as part of its campaign against China, it said.

In a rare nod toward Taiwan, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar spoke to his Taiwanese counterpart Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) in a 30-minute telephone call on April 27 about fighting the coronavirus outbreak, in an attempt to give Taiwan more exposure in the global fight against the virus.

They also discussed U.S. support for Taiwan's inclusion in the WHO in a Cabinet-level contact between the two governments, according to a summary of the meeting released by Taiwan's foreign ministry.

(By Flor Wang and Chiang Chin-yeh)

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