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Taiwan's Attempt to Participate in WHA Again Turned down
The 56th World Health Assembly (WHA) decided on Monday to turn down a proposal to invite Taiwan to participate in the assembly as an observer, and agreed not to list the issue on the agenda of the WHA's week-long meeting.

Similar proposals have been rejected by the WHA for seven consecutive years since 1997. The Taiwan authority tried this year to use severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) epidemic to realize its political ambition, but failed once again.

Speaking at the General Council meeting and the opening plenary session of the WHA, Chinese Vice-Premier and Health Minister Wu Yi elaborated the principle and stand of the Chinese government on Taiwan issue, and voiced resolute opposition to the issue to be listed on the WHA agenda.

At this moment when China and the whole world are battling the SARS epidemic, a handful of countries tabled a proposal inviting Taiwan to participate in the WHA as an observer with no respect to the United Nations Charter and the previous decisions made by the WHA in the past six years, Wu said.

She briefed the delegates the exchange and cooperation between the two sides across the Taiwan Strait in the field of public health in the past few years.

The central government of China is extremely concerned about the SARS outbreak on both sides across the strait, adding that a series of measures have been taken to strengthen information exchange and technical cooperation in this regard, Wu noted.

"We have on many occasions stated our willingness to extend to Taiwan all possible help and hold discussions with Taiwan about a joint strategy to fight SARS," she said.

Health agencies on the Chinese mainland have shared with their Taiwan counterparts related information and prevention and treatment techniques on SARS. Both sides have also held symposiums and tele-conference on SARS in the past few months.

Wu said that the China Center of Disease Control and Prevention has also provided test reagent to relevant disease control agencies in Taiwan.

She said that the central government has allowed the World Health Organization (WHO) to send experts to Taiwan for SARS inspection, and given green light to Taiwan medical experts to attend the international conference on SARS in June this year.

The Chinese vice-premier also reiterated that WHO is a special UN agency that only sovereign states can join. Taiwan, as a province of China, has no qualification to participate in WHO activities in any manner or to attend the WHA meeting in any name.

WHA is the annual conference of the 192-member WHO and this year's assembly is held on May 19-28. SARS containment, health problems in postwar Iraq, tobacco control and children's health are on the top of the meeting's agenda.

On May 15, Zhang Qiyue, spokeswoman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said that China strongly objected any attempt by the Taiwan authority to participate in the WHA in the name of SARS.

(Xinhua News Agency May 20, 2003)

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