The World Health Assembly yesterday rejected Taiwan's 10th bid for observer status at the UN health agency.
The 192-nation assembly accepted by consensus the recommendation of the assembly's General Committee that it refuse to take Taiwan's bid to a vote.
The World Health Assembly is the supreme decision-making body of the WHO. It generally meets in Geneva in May each year, and is attended by delegations from all member states. Its main function is to determine the policies of the organization.
The Pacific nation of Palau said Taiwan should be included to improve global response to disease.
But the Chinese delegation told the assembly that observer status must be reserved for sovereign nations. As Taiwan is part of China, the island is not eligible for such a status.
"The essence of this issue is not health, but politics," said Minister of Health Gao Qiang. "The motive has remained the same. Namely to split China.
"A small number of countries are tabling the proposal with the pretext of caring for the health of the people in Taiwan," Gao said. "We oppose making use of health issues to seek Taiwan independence."
Taiwan applied for observer status at the WHO as a "health entity," claiming a closer link with the UN agency would help it battle outbreaks. But Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said last week that given an existing framework for allowing Taiwanese health experts' participation in WHO technical activities, no "missing links" arose from Taiwan's current level of participation.
For five consecutive years before 2002, Taiwan tried applying to WHO under the name, "the Republic of China," before trying as a "health entity."
(China Daily May 23, 2006)