The World Health Assembly returned to Geneva, Switzerland this year for its first in-person meeting since 2019. Due to Chinese pressure, Taiwan was not invited to the summit for the sixth year in a row. Even so, Taiwan sent a delegation led by deputy health chief Lee Li-feng, to campaign for inclusion in the global health network. FTV reporters Lee Shih-chen and Tsai Cheng-yu joined the group in Geneva to witness Taiwan''s diplomacy at work. Over the course of this year''s WHA, 88 countries showed support for Taiwan''s participation. Our Sunday special report.
On May 20, 2022, 15 Taiwan representatives boarded a flight to Geneva.
Although they had not been invited, deputy health chief Lee Li-feng and four lawmakers wished to demonstrate Taiwan’s resolve to participate in the World Health Organization.
The WHO has not invited Taiwan to its annual summit since 2017. But Taiwan hasn’t abandoned hope.
An Electric-Techno Neon Gods dance troupe arrived first in Geneva to teach its moves to Taiwanese expats. The three young performers made a stand for Taiwan in their own unique way.
Electric-Techno Neon Gods performer
We want to bring Taiwanese culture out into the world. We of course would like Taiwan to be able to participate in very global events, so that the world can get to know Taiwan better.
Taiwan expat in Switzerland
Seeing Taiwan encounter lots of inconveniences in the international arena, you start to wonder if there’s anything you can do for Taiwan overseas. So on occasions like this or during events, you feel that you should do your bit to help Taiwan.
Taiwan expat in Switzerland
I feel that we should fight for this right. It is our right. I hope that this year we can have representation in the WHO.
Outside the Palais des Nations, people from around the world warmed up for a walk/run event. Three years after the outbreak of COVID-19, they were eager to remove their masks for some outdoor activity.
Holding high their national flag, Taiwan’s World Health Assembly action team became a big highlight of the event.
Deputy health minister
Of course we have to try if there’s a chance. We hope that the secretary-general of the WHO can hear the voice of Taiwan’s 23 million people.
But the WHO’s secretary-general chose not to respond, when questioned by a reporter over the Taiwan issue.
For six consecutive years now, Taiwan has been unable to enter the Palais des Nations to participate in the WHA conference. Taiwan’s valuable epidemic-control strategies, such as its name-based rationing system for face masks and its globally renowned health care system, have been left unseen internationally.
Due to its experience with SARS in 2003, Taiwan was among the first countries to realize the threat of China’s COVID-19 outbreak. By way of border controls and domestic epidemic-prevention measures, the people of Taiwan were able to maintain a relatively normal life.
Taiwan was even able to provide medical supplies to other nations. Donations carrying the slogan “Taiwan Can Help” bolstered global support for Taiwan’s WHO bid.
Former health chief
Over the past three years, since the pandemic began in 2019, countries around the world have been thinking, “It’s very strange that Taiwan hasn’t joined.” We’ve engaged in mask diplomacy and humanitarian diplomacy, and we’ve done pretty well. Many countries believe that Taiwan has done well against COVID. But when they look closer at our situation, they see that Taiwan is not a member of the WHO. They think that’s very strange.
Since 1996, former health chief Twu Shiing-jer has promoted Taiwan’s WHA bid many times overseas. He has keenly sensed a shift in global tides.
This year, U.S. President Joe Biden signed a bill to help Taiwan regain observer status at the WHA. Not only that, the European Parliament passed a resolution supporting Taiwan’s bid.
But a motion on Taiwan’s participation, backed by 13 allied nations, was blocked from the WHA’s agenda by Beijing.
China representative to WHA
The Taiwan region''s participation in the WHA must be handled in accordance with the “One China” principle. Since the DPP authorities obstinately adhere to the separatist stance of Taiwan independence, the political and legal basis for Taiwan to join the WHA has ceased to exist. The WHA has refused to discuss Taiwan-related proposals for many years. This reflects the consensus of the international community and represents the aspiration of the people and the trend of the times. We urge relevant countries to stop interfering in China’s internal affairs under the pretext of the Taiwan issue, to stop disturbing t