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Democracies weigh inviting Taiwan to World Health Organization meeting

GENEVA, Switzerland: As support for its participation grows despite China’s efforts to isolate it, democratically-governed Taiwan said it still hoped to be invited to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) annual assembly.

According to Foreign Minister Joseph Wu, several diplomatic allies and friendly countries had issued statements of support for Taiwan’s participation, or arranged bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the WHO assembly, which will run from 21st to 30th May.

In a news conference in Taipei this week, Wu said, “Support for us is stronger than in the past. Even though we still have not received an invitation letter for the assembly this year, we have not given up and continue to, through various channels, clearly express our demand to the WHO.”

Due to objections by China, which considers the island its own territory despite Taipei claiming it is independent, Taiwan is excluded from membership in most international organizations.

Taiwan started a diplomatic campaign to join the WHO’s annual meeting as an observer after China began blocking its World Health Assembly (WHA) participation in 2017.

Earlier this month, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken issued a statement encouraging the WHO to invite Taiwan as an observer, which was condemned by Beijing.

Meanwhile, the US, Australia, the UK, Canada, Germany, Japan, Lithuania, and the Czech Republic issued a joint statement reaffirming their support for Taiwan’s participation in the WHA as an observer.

“Taiwan’s isolation from the WHA, the preeminent global health forum, is unjustified and undermines inclusive global public health cooperation and security,” the statement said.

Despite being allowed to attend some technical WHO meetings, Taiwan stressed its exclusion from the WHO hindered efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

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