Blocking Taiwan at WHO will increase hostility to China, premier says

Taiwan has won praise for its early and effective steps to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

TAIPEI (REUTERS) - China's efforts to block Taiwan's participation at the World Health Organisation (WHO) during the coronavirus pandemic will only increase the world's hostility towards the country, the island's premier said on Tuesday (Nov 10).

Chinese-claimed but democratically run Taiwan says its inability to fully access the WHO, because of China's objections, has created a gap in global pandemic prevention.

China and the WHO say that is untrue.

On Monday, WHO member countries rejected a US-backed appeal for Taiwan to be permitted at a meeting of its decision-making body, the World Health Assembly (WHA).

China had labelled the proposal illegal and invalid.

Speaking to reporters, Taiwan Premier Su Tseng-chang said many countries supported the island's participation in the WHA.

"But China, because of political factors, has obstructed Taiwan, which has prevented the pandemic the best," Mr Su said.

"This is not only suppressing Taiwan, it is in fact also damaging to the whole world, creating a rupture in pandemic prevention," Mr Su added.

"What China has done will only cause more and more countries and people to stand up and condemn them."

The WHO says it cooperates with Taiwan on health matters, including on aspects of the pandemic, and that the island has been provided with the help it needs, but that it is up to member states to decide whether to invite it to the meeting.

Taiwan has won praise for its early and effective steps to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, and life there has continued more or less normally.

China says Taiwan can only take part in such international bodies if it accepts that it is part of China, something Taipei's government has refused to do.

Mr Su said that in the face of China's threats, more and more Taiwanese recognise that they are a "sovereign and independent country and that China is the most unfriendly country towards Taiwan".

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