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Tsai trying to hijack Taiwan's public health for political aims

China Daily | Updated: 2017-05-10 09:25

Taiwan's main opposition Democratic Progressive Party, DPP, Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen speaks during a press conference in Taipei, Taiwan, Wednesday, April 15, 2015. [Photo/IC]

Obviously Tsai Ing-wen was frustrated and found no better way to vent her disappointment at Taiwan's failure to receive an invitation from the World Health Assembly, which will open in Geneva on May 22.

In her 10th tweet on the matter on Monday, the leader of Taiwan tried to justify Taiwan's participation, knowing full well that will not happen.

She is reportedly dispatching a group of 20 to the WHA venue. Yet given the status quo of relations across the Taiwan Straits, it is actually impossible for Tsai's envoys to be admitted into the meeting. Tsai and her colleagues know that, especially after their abortive attempt last year.

Chances are the "delegation" they are sending will make a scene, as happened last year, and try everything possible to convey the message that Taiwan "is being bullied", and public health on the island is being put in jeopardy.

Such a narrative may resonate with some who sympathize but have no knowledge of the whole story. But at the end of the day, even these sympathizers will realize this is nothing but another episode in Tsai's game of autotomy-she is seeking to hijack public health in Taiwan to serve her political end of winning de facto statehood recognition for the island.

Tsai's argument for Taiwan's participation is misleading because it ignores the essential premise that the World Health Organization meeting is inter-governmental by nature, and that Taiwan is not a sovereign entity.

Taiwan did participate in the WHA meetings from 2009 to 2015. But that was under a special arrangement worked out by both sides of the Straits under the 1992 Consensus that both the mainland and Taiwan belong to one China. But the island's presence was never unconditional. That it participated in the name of "Chinese Taipei" and in the capacity of observer says it all.

Now the condition that allowed that goodwill arrangement does not exist under Tsai, who obstinately refuses to acknowledge the 1992 Consensus, there is certainly no legal basis for Tsai's argument. The mainland's position, on the other hand, has the full support of United Nations Assembly resolution 2758 and WHA resolution 25.1.

Tsai's argument is also porous because she is intentionally exaggerating the negative impacts of Taiwan's absence from the WHA. Public health professionals from Taiwan enjoy full access to WHA meetings and activities at the technical level. The WHO can also dispatch experts to the island to provide professional guidance when necessary.

Such exchanges were never an issue even pre-2009. Why should they be now?

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