Taiwan activists appeal to China not to politicize UN health meeting

Medical care and health rights are part of human rights, he said.

Self-ruled Taiwan has accused Beijing of obstructing its efforts to attend the May 22 to May 31 annual meeting in Geneva of the World Health Assembly, the decision-making body of the World Health Organisation.

The World Health Organization, as an agency of the United Nations, must deal with Taiwan in accordance with the one-China principle, An said.

Beijing considers Taiwan a renegade province and has vowed to use force, if necessary, to reincorporate it into "one China".

Taiwan is not a member of the United Nations, which recognises "one China" centred on Beijing, and it never formally takes part in UN meetings.

By refusing to endorse the 1992 Consensus, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), headed by Taiwanese President Tsai- Ing-wen has undermined the common political foundation of the peaceful development of cross-Strait relations, An said.

The dispute goes back nearly seven decades: China's Nationalist government fled from the mainland to the island of Formosa, or Taiwan, in 1949 after losing a civil war to Mao Tse-tung's communists.

Then President Ma Ying-jeou of the Kuomintang (KMT), which favors better ties with the mainland, took office, and from 2009 onwards China allowed Taiwan to observe at the WHA. "(It will) result in irreversible damage to cross-strait relations".

Taiwan has said health should not be politicised and that leaving Taiwan out of dialogue puts the world's health safety-net and health of people on the island at risk.

World Health Organization spokesman Christian Lindmeier confirmed to reporters in Geneva Tuesday that the registration deadline for the assembly has now passed but said he believed discussions over Taiwan were continuing.

In a statement released Tuesday, Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) expressed "strong regret and discontent" over China's suppression of Taiwan's global participation, warning that the latest incident could lead to a further worsening of cross-strait relations.

Since Tsai's election last year, China has also discouraged tourism to Taiwan, with Taiwan's government saying the number of Chinese visitors fell by more than 50 percent in the first four months of the year.

China said on Monday the island's DPP administration should bear "full responsibility" for their absence from the Geneva meeting, due to its refusal to accept "one China".

The week-long forum will hold 21 major activities covering youth exchanges, community entities and trade, said An Fengshan, spokesperson for the State Council Taiwan Affairs Office, at a press conference Wednesday.

  • Joanne Flowers