By Tenzin Dharpo
DHARAMSHALA, May 22: In the much debated saga over Taiwan’s reinstatement of its observer status at the World Health Assembly (WHA), the President of the Exile Tibetan Government, known officially as the Central Tibetan Administration said Taiwan deserves to regain its status.
“Taiwan was an associated member of the World Health Organisation until 2016. Given its performance during this pandemic, Taiwan deserves to be affiliated with the WHO as a full-fledged member,” Dr. Lobsang Sangay said Friday.
The Harvard-educated Tibetan leader lauded Taiwan’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic that effectively limited the death toll in the country to just just 7 among a population of 23.8 million. “Taiwan’s effective handling of the corona virus pandemic serves as a great model that countries around the world can learn from in dealing with this crisis,” he said.
Taiwan on Monday withdrew its request to hold a vote on whether it can regain its observer status at the World Health Assembly. Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu in a statement said, “Due to Covid-19, the agenda for this year’s WHA has been significantly shortened. Understandably, countries want to use the limited time available to concentrate on ways of containing the pandemic.
“For this reason, like-minded nations and diplomatic allies have suggested that the proposal be taken up later this year when meetings will be conducted normally, to make sure there will be [a] full and open discussion. After careful deliberation, we have accepted the suggestion from our allies and like-minded nations to wait until the resumed session before further promoting our bid.”
The issue which is being seen more as a political struggle concerning the island-nation’s sovereignty, than a membership into the World Health Organization, has escalated in the recent weeks as countries such as the US, UK, Japan and New Zealand among others supported in Taiwan’s favor. A move that has angered China.
Taiwan attended the WHA as an observer from 2009 to 2016, when the Beijing-friendly party was in power. Beijing, however, has been blocking its attendance since 2017, after Tsai Ing-wen of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) was voted to the office of the president of Taiwan. The DPP continues to reject Beijing’s claim over the island nation.