President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) on Tuesday expressed a "solemn protest" against the World Health Organization's refusal to invite Taiwan this year to join the annual meeting of its decision-making body.
During a briefing at the Taiwan Centers for Disease Control, Tsai said the WHO's decision to exclude Taiwan from this year's World Health Assembly (WHA), which began Monday as an abbreviated virtual meeting, was based on political pressure.
"The WHO's secretariat has again, under pressure, refused to invite Taiwan to attend the WHA, and I would like to use this opportunity to express my solemn protest," she said. "Refusing Taiwan's participation because of political factors does not conform to the common interests of the international community."
This is the fourth consecutive year that Taiwan has not been invited to the WHA, despite a proposal put forth by 14 of its diplomatic allies - all WHO member states - for the issue of Taiwan's WHA status to be put on the agenda for discussion at this year's meeting.
On Monday, WHA President Keva Bain said the proposal for Taiwan's inclusion in the WHA as an observer will be considered by the General Committee, which will make a recommendation to the full WHA body on whether to include the issue on the agenda when the WHA session resumes later in the year.
The May 2020 session of the WHA, which is being held virtually because of the COVID-19 pandemic, is scheduled to end Tuesday.
At Tuesday's briefing, Tsai said Taiwan will not abandon its efforts to participate in international organizations.
Taiwan's successful prevention against the COVID-19 coronavirus has attracted the attention of many countries around the world, she said.
Taiwan has recorded 440 COVID-19 cases and seven deaths since the outbreak of the disease late last year.
The WHO's refusal to invite Taiwan to this year's WHA is widely believed to have stemmed from political pressure by China, which sees Taiwan as part of its territory.
Taiwan participated in the WHA as an observer from 2009 to 2016, when relations between Taipei and Beijing were better under the then-Kuomintang administration.
Since 2017, however, China reportedly has persuaded the WHO not to invite Taiwan, in line with Beijing's hardline stance on cross-Taiwan Strait relations since Tsai of the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party took office in May 2016.
After a landslide election victory in January, Tsai will be inaugurated Wednesday for a second term.