Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

China blocks Taiwan from the World Health Organisation

8th April 2008

On the 60th anniversary of the United Nations' World Health Organisation, China repeats its belligerent pre-Olympics policies

Brussels, 8th April 2008 --The continued exclusion of Taiwan from the World Health Organisation (WHO) is the result of totally unjustified and counter-productive heavy-handed tactics by the People's Republic of China (PRC), Conservative Foreign Affairs Spokesman Dr Charles Tannock MEP said today.

Dr Tannock used the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the WHO and World Health Day to call for Taiwan to be admitted as a full member of the global health body.

The MEP said Beijing was pursuing a vigorous campaign within the UN and its agencies to prevent Taiwan's aspirations for membership despite Taiwan being for decades a de facto independent state and now a flourishing democracy.

Dr Tannock also said however that the West was culpable as it was prepared to acquiesce to the economic might of the PRC in the face of pressure. He stated that Beijing should respond to the conciliatory approach of the recently elected Taiwanese President Ma by making a gesture in this Olympic year to ease tensions, such as enabling Taiwan to join the WHO. He added that as long as PRC citizen Margaret Chan remained Director-General of the WHO, Taiwan's exclusion was unlikely to change.

Dr Tannock said:

"Sadly Taiwan's situation with regard to the WHO is the same as its situation in the United Nations as a whole.

"It is ironic and shameful that we are so ready to welcome Kosovo as an independent state, that we are up in arms over Tibet but we remain silent about Taiwan.

"Keeping Taiwan out of the WHO makes no sense at all.

"Political boundaries are irrelevant when it comes to disease. Taiwan has a vital role to play regionally in dealing with the bird flu threat in the same way that it dealt successfully with SARS.

"Taiwan also has vast potential to make its highly developed technological expertise and pharmaceutical research available to poorer countries.

"As a doctor myself, I'm deeply disappointed when political pettiness gets in the way of potentially saving lives.

"It's time for the PRC to change its approach."