US asks WHO to invite Taiwan to health assembly next week
The U.S. has asked the World Health Organization (WHO) to invite Taiwan to its World Health Assembly (WHA) next week, The Associated Press reports.
The U.S. cited Taiwan’s “resounding success” in fighting COVID-19 in its appeal to WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, AP notes.
The WHA, the decision-making body that oversees the WHO, is expected to hold a virtual meeting from Nov. 9-14.
China has objected to Taiwan’s inclusion in the WHA since Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen was elected, AP notes. Ing-wen has been pro-independence, which has angered Beijing.
The U.S., however, has pushed for Taiwan’s inclusion as part of its efforts to counteract China’s influence at the WHO, which President Trump has called “China-centric.” The U.S. has already made plans to withdraw from the global health body.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called for Taiwan’s participation at the WHA as an observer in May, but the WHO said at the time that the director-general did not have the power to invite the island nation.
“To put it crisply, director-generals only extend invitations when it’s clear that member states support doing so, that director-generals have a mandate, a basis to do so,” WHO principal legal officer Steven Solomon said at the time.
“Today, however, the situation is not the same. Instead of clear support there are divergent views among member states and no basis therefore — no mandate for the DG to extend an invitation,” he continued.
Taiwan has reported just 569 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Only seven people in Taiwan have died from the virus.