May 21, 2024

The Chinese foreign ministry said on Thursday that it “strongly deplores and firmly opposes” Blinken’s statement, which “seriously violates the one-China principle and the three China-US joint communiques”.

The ministry blamed Tsai’s Democratic People’s Party (DPP) for “stubbornly sticking to the separatist position of ‘Taiwan independence’, which means that the political foundation for Taiwan region’s participation in the WHA no longer exists”.

US cannot ‘say one thing and do another’, Chinese leader tells Blinken

“The US statement presents this matter in a misleading way, essentially to connive at and support ‘Taiwan independence’ separatist activities,” the ministry’s statement continued.

Beijing regards the island as part of its territory that must be brought under mainland control, by force if necessary. The US, like most countries, does not recognise Taiwan as an independent state but opposes any unilateral attempt to change the status quo.

Taiwan had observer status at the UN health agency under the name Chinese Taipei from 2009 to 2016, during the presidency of Ma Ying-jeou from the mainland-friendly Kuomintang party.

That changed in 2017 after Tsai came to power and refused to recognise the 1992 consensus – an understanding that there is only one China but each side has its own interpretation of what that means.

Since then, Beijing has blocked Taipei from attending the WHA – which this year meets in Geneva from 27 May to 1 June – on the grounds that the DPP does not agree that the island and the mainland are “one China”.

The Covid-19 pandemic amplified support for the WHO to reinstate Taiwan’s observer status, following international praise for its handling of infection outbreaks and related aid efforts.

All 27 EU member states and six of Taipei’s allies either wrote or spoke to support Taiwan’s participation as a WHA observer during the WHO’s 150th executive board meeting in 2022, but in vain.

Last year, after the assembly again formally rejected Taiwan’s proposed observer status, Beijing’s representative to the UN Chen Xu said the DPP had “unilaterally abandoned the political foundation for the Taiwan region to participate in the WHA”.

The Taiwanese foreign minister Joseph Wu admitted on Thursday that there were “some difficulties” surrounding Taiwan’s attendance at this year’s WHA and said the island hoped for more international support.

Wu’s ministry also released a statement expressing appreciation for Blinken’s public support of Taiwan’s attendance at the assembly, which takes place one week after Tsai’s successor William Lai Ching-te takes over the presidency.

Lai’s victory in Taiwan’s January election secured an unprecedented third term for the DPP. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said after the result was announced that it did not change “the basic fact” that there is only one China.

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