Taiwan’s eighth bid for WHO observer status

Associated Press

Taipei, May 7:

Taiwan is making its eighth attempt to gain an observer seat at the World Health Organisation, but officials said they fear rival China would again thwart the bid. Nine of the island’s diplomatic allies have proposed to the Geneva-based UN agency to include the Taiwan issue on the agenda when the WHO’s chief decision-making forum meets from May 17-22, Foreign Minister Chen Tan-sun said.

Taiwan will apply as a ‘health entity’ instead of a sovereign nation, but ‘political interference’ from China could still make the move ‘very difficult’, Chen said. China opposes Taiwan’s efforts to take part in the WHO because it views any attempt by the island to join international organisations as a move toward formal independence, an act Beijing says would lead to war. Taiwan’s bid to gain observer status at the WHO was rebuffed last May for the seventh time, despite calls that a link with the UN agency would help the island deal with its outbreak of SARS. Taiwan’s Health Minister, Chen Chien-jen, urged China to stop boycotting the bid.