Taipei Times: Virus Outbreak: China’s permission not needed for WHO forum: MOFA

Taiwan did not need China’s permission to join a WHO expert forum, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said yesterday, blasting China for politicizing a public health issue to shift global attention away from its failure to contain an outbreak of COVID-19.

The WHO on Tuesday convened a two-day forum in Geneva, Switzerland, on critical research and development of vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics, among other innovations.

While the Centers for Disease Control on Monday said that Taiwanese experts might join the forum remotely under the name of “Taipei,” the ministry said that it was striving for them to join in a way more closely aligned to the nation’s interests, without confirming that it had settled on “Taipei.”

The Ministry of Health and Welfare late on Tuesday confirmed that attendees were only required to fill in their English names and e-mail addresses in the WHO’s online meeting registration system, without showing nationality, the foreign ministry said.

Asked about Taiwan’s participation, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Geng Shuang (耿爽) on Tuesday told a news briefing that to join WHO technical events, Taiwan needs China’s permission under the “one China” principle.

The Democratic Progressive Party should be ashamed for using the issue for political gain, he said.

MOFA spokeswoman Joanne Ou (歐江安) yesterday condemned China for politicizing a public health issue.

China is to blame for the rapid spread of the disease, and instead of focusing on how to contain the outbreak, it has allowed politics to override human health and has employed the fictional “one China” principle to pressure and downgrade Taiwan’s sovereignty and dignity, she said.

Beijing is trying to shift attention away from the dissatisfaction of the Chinese public and other countries over its failure to curb the disease, which is more shameful, Ou said.

Taiwanese experts joining the forum was the result of direct communication between the Taiwanese government and the WHO, without needing China’s permission, she said.

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