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By Dr Samantha Batt-Rawden
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MPs and Peers Have Appealed to WHO To Allow Taiwan To Attend Global Covid Talks

MPs and Peers Have Appealed to WHO To Allow Taiwan To Attend Global Covid Talks
3 min read

Dozens of British MPs and peers are calling on the World Health Organisation to reverse its decision not to allow Taiwan to attend its latest round of virtual global talks on the coronavirus pandemic.

China’s claim that Taiwan is one of its own provinces is wrong, the cross-party group of MPs has said, and the institution needs to recognise its health system, covering 23 million people, is entirely different to that of mainland China.

The letter signed by 73 MPs to the WHO’s director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus was drawn up by Layla Moran MP, Chair of the all-party parliamentary group (APPG) on Coronavirus, Tory MP Martin Vickers who is chair of British-Taiwanese APPG and the group’s co-chair Lord Rogan. Chair of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee Tom Tugendhat is also a signatory.

“COVID-19 is a world health issue, not a political one. It is essential that all countries have the access to listen and be heard to stop the spread of the virus which has caused such grave loss of life and worsening of livelihoods for so many across the globe,” the letter said.

The World Health Assembly, its decision-making body, meets until Saturday, and did not allow Taiwan to have observer status at its talks, which will focus on the global COVID response and treatments. Taiwan’s foreign minister has blamed obstruction from China for the decision.

The British MPs and peers are calling for the organisation to facilitate Taiwan's attendance to talks “on an equal and regular basis” and said that it should not be treated as part of China.

“Firstly, Taiwan is not under the jurisdiction of the PRC [People’s Republic of China] generally. Secondly, and most importantly in the current global context, Taiwan’s health system is run by an independent health authority to that of the PRC," the letter sets out.

“Therefore, any discussion held by the WHO with the PRC excludes consideration of Taiwan and its healthcare system.

“It is vital that all independent representatives are able to participate in crucial discussions, particularly those who can contribute live-saving advice."

Taiwan has had an extremely low number of cases and deaths from the illness and its ministers have said they were keen to show their expertise in how they handled the pandemic.

At the virus' first peak in March, Taiwan had just 31 cases per day. Since August it has had between zero and five cases. 

The Taiwanese ministry added that the WHO’s refusal to invite them to the meeting due to the political situation makes a mockery of the organisation’s claim to promote “health for all”.

The WHO has previously said it cooperates with Taiwan on health matters including on aspects of the pandemic.

Membership to the organisation is only given to countries that are also members of the United Nations. China denies Taiwan is a sovereign state.

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