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Speech by H.E. Madame Wu Yi Head of Chinese Delegation, Vice Premier and Minister of Health On Taiwan-related Proposal at 56th World Health Assembly

19 May 2003

2003-05-20 11:34
Mr. President,

I would like to begin by congratulating you on assuming the presidency of the 56th World Health Assembly. I am confident that under your capable leadership, this WHA will be a success.

Mr. President, Colleagues,

The World Health Organization as a UN specialized agency shoulders a lofty mission of promoting social development and progress across the world. The WHA as the highest power organ of the WHO embodies the hopes and aspirations of the world people towards a happy and healthy life. Coming from different parts of the world, participants at the WHA are united in their best wishes for creating, through our joint efforts, a hygienic and healthy environment for all of us to live and work in peace, happiness and good health.

Regrettably, however, a handful of countries have shown no regard for the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and legal provisions of this organization, for the will of the overwhelming majority of countries or the efforts of the people in different parts of the world against various diseases. By once again tabling a proposal at this sacred forum on inviting Taiwan to participate in the WHA as an observer, they are again putting on an inglorious farce.

I would like to point out solemnly that inviting Taiwan to participate in the WHO is unlawful, illogical and unreasonable. The Chinese Government is firmly opposed to any such proposal. Here I would like to highlight the following questions.

First, there is no legal ground for a region or a province of a sovereign state to join an inter-governmental international organization.

The UN Resolution 2758 adopted at the 26th UN General Assembly in 1971 and the WHA Resolution 25.1 adopted at the 25th WHA in 1972 have solved the issue of China's representation in the UN and its specialized agencies including the WHO politically, legally and procedurally in a fair, thorough and comprehensive manner. These two documents are perpetually binding. As a province of China, Taiwan has no qualification whatsoever to become a member or an associate member of the WHO, nor is it qualified to participate in any WHO activities as an observer.

Respect for state sovereignty and territorial integrity is an important principle enshrined in the UN Charter, and is cherished by all countries in the world. In handling international relations, China has been strictly following this principle and we hope to see other countries do the same in their handling of the Taiwan question. The Taiwan question falls within the internal affairs of China, which can only be solved through talks by the Chinese on the two sides of the Straits. No foreign country has the right to get a hand or interfere therein. What a small number of countries are doing is, in essence, instigating the creation of "two Chinas" or "one China, one Taiwan" in the international community. The Chinese Government and people resolutely oppose such an act of infringing upon China's sovereignty and territorial integrity, interfering in China's internal affairs and compromising WHO norms and principles.

Secondly, there is no justification, by WHO law or practice for inviting Taiwan to participate in the WHO under the name of a so-called health entity or a non-governmental organization.

The Taiwan authorities and those Taiwan-related proposal sponsors have racked their brains and come up with a concept of the so-called health entity. It is known to all that the WHO is an UN agency made up of sovereign states, not of the so-called health entities. There is no such concept as health entity in the WHO Constitution, nor has the concept ever occurred in the practice of the body over the past fifty years and more.

A country needs rule of law as the world calls for order. An international organization has to follow its own norms and principles in its activities. Pursuant to the relevant stipulations of the WHO Constitution and the Principles Governing Relations with NGOs, Taiwan NGOs' participation in any WHO activities should be subject to the approval and arrangements of the Central Government of China. I wish to reiterate that our Taiwan medical and public health professionals are welcome to join the Chinese delegation to the WHA.

Thirdly, there is no such question as Taiwan being unable to fight against SARS without WHO membership.

Our Taiwan compatriots are members of the big family of the Chinese nation. The Central Government of China cares a lot about the safety and health of the people on Taiwan and has been working actively to promote exchanges and cooperation in the health area across the Taiwan Straits. Each year hundreds of delegations from health communities of the two sides exchange visits, which involve thousands of participants. Facts are sufficient evidence that the health and hygiene of Taiwan are not ignored and Taiwan has unfettered access to health information.

The Central Government of China is very much concerned about the outbreak of SARS on both sides of the Straits and relevant authorities have promptly adopted a series of measures to strengthen information exchanges and technical cooperation between the two sides. We have on many occasions stated our willingness to extend to Taiwan all possible help and hold discussions with Taiwan about a joint strategy to fight SARS. Health agencies on the mainland have shared with their Taiwan counterparts related information, prevention and treatment techniques and policies on SARS. We have also invited professionals from Taiwan to come to Guangzhou and Beijing for a first-hand look at SARS prevention and treatment. Health and medical institutions of the two sides held a Symposium on the Prevention and Control of SARS on Both Sides of the Taiwan Straits at the end of April, which was attended by medical and health experts from Taiwan. On May 9, the two sides convened a Tele- conference on SARS, where experts from Beijing, Guangdong and Taiwan held fruitful discussions about SARS prevention. The China Center for Disease Control and Prevention also provided test reagents to relevant disease control agencies on Taiwan.

The Central Government of China is willing to consider favorably Taiwan's request for more outside assistance in epidemic control. Most recently, the Central Government of China agreed to invite WHO experts to investigate the SARS situation in Taiwan, followed by its approval to Taiwan medical experts' participation in the WHO-sponsored global SARS conference this June. We have also made it clear on many occasions that the Central Government will give the same positive consideration to any request made by the Taiwan side if it needs technical assistance from the WHO.

Mr. President,

In the face of this sudden outbreak of the SARS epidemic, the Chinese Government and people are united as one and going all out to save patients and control the epidemic. The Chinese Government and leaders have always given top priority to the health and safety of all Chinese people including our Taiwan compatriots. A series of decisive measures are paying off. We feel sincerely grateful to the international community for the full support for our battle against SARS, and ardently hope to enhance our cooperation with the rest of the world. "Where there is a will, there is a way." I am deeply convinced that as long as we join hands and work with one heart, the humanity is bound to overcome the epidemic of SARS.

Mr. President,

There are many important agenda items awaiting our examination and review at this Assembly. There are many arduous tasks in front of us as the epidemic spreads across borders. I wish to, once again, call on all members to support the proposal that the General Committee does not include the Taiwan-related proposal in the Provisional Agenda. I am sure that you will make a wise decision for the sake of justice and our common cause.

Thank you, Mr. President.

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