CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 15 June 2019

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Pushing Taiwan out of the world

TAIPEI (AsiaNews): Taiwan was not be represented at the World Health Assembly held in Geneva from May 22 to 31, although it has attended regularly for the past eight years.
 
Organised by the World Health Organisation (WHO), the assembly studies and implements decisions about worldwide healthcare which are applicable worldwide. Beijing-friendly Margaret Chan, from Hong Kong, is WHO’s director general.
 
Until now, in accordance with the principle of the WHO health for all and the right to health, Taiwan was given observer status at the meetings, attending under the name of Chinese Taipei.
 
Its presence was especially welcomed after the SARS crisis in 2003, when Chinese authorities kept the outbreak in the mainland under wraps, causing it to spread to Hong Kong, Taiwan and the rest of the world with some 900 people dying.
 
When asked why Taiwan was excluded, a spokesperson for the WHO, Christian Lindmeier, blamed it on poor cross-strait relations with the mainland.
 
Since Tsai Ing-wen became the president of Taiwan in 2016, the mainland has cooled on Taiwan and to punish its democratic and somewhat pro-independence attitude, Beijing has worked to block Taiwan from participating in international forums.
 
At the International Civil Aviation Organisation 39th assembly in Montreal in 2016, Taiwan was excluded. Before it had been there as a guest.
 
In early May, the delegation from Beijing loutishly disrupted the opening ceremony at the Kimberley Process being held in Perth, Australia, on curtailing the trade in blood diamonds.
 
The group of cultural vandals that formed the official delegation from China, grabbed the microphone from the foreign minster of their host country as she was introducing a sacred Aboriginal Welcome to the Land, a ceremony which demands the same respect as the national anthem.
 
All that just to protest against the presence of a delegation from Taiwan in the room.
 
Students in Taiwan have launched an online petition calling for admittance as an observer.
 
They are arguing that the WHO should abide by its principle of health for all and that it should not discriminate on political or any other grounds.
 
Support has come from various parts of the world and called on WHO to extend an official invitation to the island, even though the deadline for online registration was May 8.
 
Timothy Armstrong, from the WHO, repeated that the current situation comes as a result of the absence of a cross-strait understanding.
 
On a brighter side, Armstrong added, “Negotiations are still ongoing. Anything is possible.”

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