The World Health Organization unilaterally reduced Taiwan’s international status to a city and its hinterland in a report issued February 5, drawing the ire of the democratically-governed nation of 23 million people.
The 16th WHO Novel Coronavirus Situation Report, released yesterday, listed cases from Taiwan under “Taipei and environs” in a table of confirmed cases reported by provinces, regions, and cities in China, according to Taiwan’s Central News Agency.
Taiwan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu, slammed the World Health Organization for the constantly changing designations of the country, and making errors in reports concerning cases in Taiwan.
Minister Wu has been on the forefront of the battle to maintain Taiwan’s international position as WHO, and other agencies of the United Nations, including ICAO are used by the People’s Republic of China to belittle a nation that the dictatorial regime refers to as “a renegade province of China.”
Since the outbreak of what has been dubbed as “novel coronavirus,” WHO has refused to share information directly with Taiwan, nor accept information directly from Taiwan, forcing Taiwan’s health authorities to communicate through third parties.
Andrew Bremberg, U.S. ambassador to the U.N. in Geneva, urged the World Health Organization to “engage directly with Taiwan public health authorities” in the fight to battle the new virus.
“For the rapidly evolving coronavirus, it is a technical imperative that WHO present visible public health data on Taiwan as an affected area and engage directly with Taiwan public health authorities on actions,” Bremberg told WHO’s Executive Board, February 6, according to a Reuters report.
Japan representative Ambassador Ken Okaniwa supported the USA, saying “We should not make a geographical vacuum by creating a situation where a specific region cannot join WHO even as an observer”.
“China’s delegation took the floor to express its ‘strong dissatisfaction’ that some countries had raised the issue of Taiwan’s participation during the technical meeting,” the report noted.
The World Health Organization’s designation of Taiwan as part of China also led to Italy and Vietnam to include Taiwan when placing an embargo on flights from China.
Vietnam, geographically closer to China and Taiwan, and more intimately acquainted with China’s extraterritorial claims in the region, quickly rescinded the ban on flights from Taiwan, but Italy, to date, has not dared to challenge the status quo exerted by the PRC via WHO.
At a press conference, Thursday, February 6, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Joanne Ou called WHO’s actions “absurd” in mislabeling Taiwan as part of China.
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