U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the State Department will “do our best to assist” Taiwan’s “appropriate role” in the world's highest health-policy-setting body.
The United States has urged the World Health Organization to defy Chinese pressure and invite Taiwan to its annual meeting, which will discuss the coronavirus pandemic.
The United States itself has yet to confirm its participation in the 18-19 May talks of the World Health Assembly, which comes after President Donald Trump vowed to slash funding for the UN body.
The US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, told reporters:
I want to call on all nations, including those in Europe, to support Taiwan’s participation as an observer at the World Health Assembly and other relevant United Nations venues.
I also call upon WHO Director-General Tedros (Adhanom Ghebreyesus) to invite Taiwan to observe this month’s WHA, as he has the power to do, and as his predecessors have done on multiple occasions.
China, which wields a veto on the UN Security Council, considers Taiwan a province awaiting reunification and fights to block it from all international institutions.
China’s defeated nationalists fled to Taiwan in 1949 but the island has evolved into a vibrant, self-ruling democracy.
Taiwan has become a model for its swift response to the coronavirus outbreak, with just six deaths despite its close proximity and economic ties with China, and has donated masks and other supplies around the world.
The US state department did not reply to questions on whether the United States would take part in the World Health Assembly, which sets global health policy and is generally attended by health ministers or other senior officials.
Until Trump’s announcement, the US was the top contributor to the WHO, giving more than $400m a year to help global efforts on fighting myriad illnesses including malaria and polio.