May 19, 2006

China rejects Taiwan WHO participation bid

BEIJING (Reuters) - China has rejected a renewed bid by
Taiwan for meaningful participation in the World Health
Organization (WHO), insisting that membership in the body
should be limited to sovereign states.

Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian, in a videoconference with
European health officials on Friday, pressed the case for
observer status in the World Health Assembly and participation
in other specific mechanisms of the WHO, saying it was a
missing link in the global health and medical system.

"The WHO is a special institution of the United Nations
that can be joined only by sovereign states," Chinese Foreign
Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said in a statement posted
overnight on the ministry's Web site (

Liu said that, given an existing framework for allowing
Taiwanese health experts' participation in certain WHO
technical activities, no "missing links" arose from Taiwan's
current level of participation in the body.

He asserted that, in putting forward Taiwan-related
proposals at the World Health Assembly, Taiwanese authorities
had used the excuse of health issues to support "secessionist"

"Such a political attempt will not succeed," Liu said.

Chen had said on Friday, ahead of the May 22 opening of the
World Health Assembly in Geneva, that his island's efforts at
greater participation in the WHO were not politically

"This is based on practical needs in health and disease
prevention and is entirely independent of political
considerations," he said.

China considers self-ruled Taiwan part of its territory,
and opposes its participation in most international

Taiwan, officially called the Republic of China, was
ejected from the United Nations in 1971 and its seat given to
the communist People's Republic.