As W.H.O. virus meeting kicks off, Taiwan is still waiting for its invitation.
TAIPEI, Taiwan — A virtual meeting of the World Health Organization that will largely focus on the global response to the coronavirus pandemic began Monday, involving representatives from more than 190 countries.
Noticeably absent was a place that has won international praise for its success in controlling a virus that has sickened more than 50 million people and killed more than 1.2 million around the world: Taiwan.
As of Monday, Taiwan had not yet received an invitation to join the World Health Assembly meeting, which will end on Saturday, according to a spokeswoman for Taiwan’s foreign ministry, despite a multilateral effort led by the United States to support the island’s bid for observer status.
The self-governed island, which Beijing claims as its own territory, had observer status until 2016. That changed when Taiwan elected President Tsai Ing-wen, who is loathed by the Chinese Communist Party. Since then, Beijing has repeatedly blocked Taiwan’s efforts to participate in the assembly.
Joanne Ou, spokeswoman for Taiwan’s foreign ministry, said in a statement that excluding Taiwan “not only ignores the health rights of the Taiwanese people, but is also very ironic considering the lofty goal of ‘health for all’ that is outlined in the W.H.O.’s charter.” Since December, Taiwan, which has a population of 23 million, has had only 578 cases and 7 deaths from the virus.
The W.H.O. has previously been criticized for its excessive praise of the Chinese government in the early days of the pandemic and for ceding control to China in the crucial search for the animal origin of the coronavirus.
Among the agency’s most vocal critics is President Trump, who earlier announced that the United States would withdraw from it. President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. has said he would restore U.S. membership in the organization.
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