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Beijing 'Deplores and Opposes' New Zealand's Move to Back Taiwanese Membership of WHO

Sputnik News

13:54 GMT 12.05.2020(updated 14:02 GMT 12.05.2020)

Wellington joined the United States, Australia and Canada in backing Taiwan's bid to join the World Health Organization (WHO) as an observer, with the People's Republic calling the move a violation of the One-China policy which has governed relations between Beijing and many Western nations for decades.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry has lashed out at authorities in New Zealand over their support for Taiwan's membership of the WHO, calling Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters' recent remarks on the matter a violation of the one-China principle.

"China deplores and opposes [the remarks] and has lodged representations with the New Zealand side," Zhao Lijian, a spokesman for the foreign ministry, has said, calling on Wellington to "strictly abide by the One-China principle and immediately stop its wrong actions on Taiwan-related issues to avoid damaging bilateral relations."

"I want to point out that China is committed to developing friendly, cooperative relations with New Zealand based on mutual respect and equality. But we are firmly resolved to uphold our sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity. No one should entertain any illusion when it comes to matters concerning China's core interests," Zhao warned.

Zhao added that the "timing" of the recent push by Taipei to join the WHO "reveals its true motive, which is to use the current outbreak to seek 'Taiwan independence'. It is out-and-out political manipulation," the spokesman claimed.

New Zealand recently joined the United States, Australia and Canada in backing Taiwan's right to independently join the WHO as an observer, with Prime Minister Ardern suggesting other WHO members should have the opportunity to "gather…knowledge" on Taiwan's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, even as New Zealand continues to abide by the One-China policy.

"[The People's Republic's] use of a lockdown in Wuhan demonstrated their ability to control the spread of the virus in a way that probably saved a large number of lives. Equally, a place like Taiwan has used some particular approaches that have demonstrated also success in their management," the prime minister said in a press conference on Tuesday.

Also on Tuesday, Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters praised Taiwan for its COVID-19 response, calling it a "standout society" in this regard. As for relations with China, Peters said Wellington had the right to pursue an independent policy.

"We have got to stand up for ourselves, and true friendship is based on equality. It's based on the ability, in this friendship, to nevertheless disagree. All we are saying is in having looked very carefully around the world, to find examples of how we might help internationally and locally our defeat of COVID-19," Peters said.

China considers Taiwan a breakaway province, hopes to reincorporate it into the mainland one day, and vehemently opposes any attempts to suggest that the territory is a sovereign state, denouncing attempts by other countries to question this status or to establish direct relations with the island's authorities. The United States and many of its allies began observing the One-China policy in the 70s and 80s, formally recognizing the existence of only one Chinese government (i.e. the People's Republic) while continuing to maintain trade and other relations with Taiwan.

© Sputnik

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