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WHO Votes Against Taiwan Motion

The 58th World Health Assembly, the supreme decision-making body of the WHO, voted in Geneva, Switzerland on Monday to exclude a proposal tabled by Sao Tome and Principe to invite Taiwan as an observer from its conference agenda.

Health Minister Gao Qiang, who headed the Chinese delegation, said at the general committee meeting that previous resolutions have already explicitly stated that the People's Republic of China is the sole representative of China at the UN and the WHO and only sovereign states may be invited as observers.

That China has put forward proposals to ensure the island province's participation in the WHO in other ways showed that, "the government is sincere in addressing the concerns of Taiwan compatriots and protecting their legitimate rights and interests," said Gao.

The Ministry of Health also signed a memorandum of understanding with the WHO recently on technical exchanges between them and experts from Taiwan, he added.

According to procedures stipulated in the memorandum, the WHO secretariat can invite medical and public health experts from Taiwan to participate in technical activities, send staff or experts to Taiwan to study its health situation or provide technical assistance.

Thirty-two countries, including Russia, Pakistan, Brazil, Indonesia, Iran and Zimbabwe, said they appreciated the Chinese government's active and practical attitude in helping Taiwan with access to WHO medical and health information and assistance.

They repeated their adherence to the "one-China" principle, and their opposition to the inclusion of the Taiwan-related proposal on the agenda, saying that they did not want the WHO to discuss "political issues."

Since 1997, the authorities in Taiwan have encouraged member nations to table similar proposals, all of which have been rejected.

(Xinhua News Agency May 17, 2005)

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