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Open Letter on Opposition to WMA Council Resolution on Observer Status for Taiwan to the World Health Organization (WHO) and Inclusion as Participating Party to the International Health Regulations (IHR)

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The CMA firmly oppose the adoption of proposed revision of WMA Council Resolution on Observer Status for Taiwan to the World Health Organization (WHO) and Inclusion as Participating Party to the International Health Regulations (IHR) by WMA. This resolution have neither legal nor factual basis. From a legal perspective, the mentioned “WMA Council Resolution” is a clear violation of Article 2 of the UN Charter, which states “All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.” There is only one China, and Taiwan is an inalienable part of China.This principle is universally recognized in the international community as a code of conduct. We stand firmly against the Inclusion of the Taiwan Region in any official initiatives or organizations. It also failed to uphold WMA’s principle of not taking any political stance on national sovereignty issues, and further dishonored the WMA by ignoring the commitment made by Dr. Ian T. Field, then Secretary-General of the WMA, stating “(for) our member association from Taipei the title of their organization in our meetings is ‘Chinese Taipei Medical Association’”, in his letter to the CMA in 1997.

Article 2 of the UN Charter clearly states that the Organization and its Members shall act by the principle that the Organization and its Members “shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations”. As a specialized agency of the United Nations, the World Health Organization (WHO), when dealing with the participation of Taiwan region of China in the affairs of the WHO, including matters related to the IHR, follows the principle of “There is only one China in the world, and Taiwan is part of China”, which is a principle affirmed by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) Resolution 2758 and the World Health Assembly (WHA) Resolution 25.1. Therefore, granting Taiwan observer status of the World Health Organization and inclusion as participating party to the IHR by violating the above-mentioned principles as suggested by the “WMA Council Resolution” approved at the 2005 council meeting and its revision proposed by the CTMA, would be an act that undermines the sovereign unity and territorial integrity of China and violates the UN Charter.

As an international non-governmental organization, WMA claims to take no political stance on national sovereignty issues. However, as discussed above, the Resolution politically challenges the sovereign unity of China and undermines the territorial integrity of China, thereby violating this principle of the WMA.. In addition, when the CMA rejoined the WMA in 1997, Dr. Ian T. Field, then Secretary-General of the WMA, made a commitment on behalf of the WMA to address the member association from Taipei as ‘Chinese Taipei Medical Association’ (CTMA), which indicates that the WMA deals with professional issues represented by medical associations only, and involves no interests of states. The change of secretary-general does not negate the validity of that commitment made in official capacity. The Resolution and the proposed revision submitted by the Taiwan Medical Association(TMA) no doubt stand against this commitment and undermine the credibility of the WMA.

Furthermore, there is anything but the truth in Taiwan Medical Association’s claim about lacking access to the WHO, as the Chinese Central Government has made appropriate arrangements for the Taiwan region of China to be part of global health affairs. The Taiwan region of China faces no barrier to participating in global health affairs, including the WHO technical activities and access to information. And the so-called "gap in global anti-epidemic efforts" is purely fictional. Instead, it is the Taiwan authorities who plot against the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) Resolution 2758 and and the World Health Assembly (WHA) Resolution 25.1, which affirmed “There is only one China in the world, and Taiwan is part of China”. As it seeks to join the WHO as an “independent sovereign state or similar legal status”, the Taiwan authorities threaten to deny WHO’s request for information, because that will, as it argued, compromise their national identity. It is self-evident that the true "gap in global anti-epidemic efforts" is the Taiwan authorities, who compromise the right to life and health of its own people.

By honoring the fact that “There is only one China in the world, and Taiwan is part of China”, designated WHO IHR focal points can directly contact and communicate with the designated IHR focal point of the health authority of the Taiwan region of China at any time regarding matters such as surveillance, notification, consultation, reporting, verification, grading, and response in relation to public health emergencies. Therefore, the Taiwan region can have timely access to the information on global public health emergencies released by the WHO and can make notifications to the WHO regarding public health emergencies happening there in time without any obstacle. Medical experts from the Taiwan region of China can participate in the WHO technical activities. With all these arrangements in place, the Taiwan region is well-positioned to respond timely and effectively to public health emergencies in the Taiwan region and beyond.

Since 2021, 18 health experts from the Taiwan region of China has participated in the WHO technical activities in 14 batches, including the WHO News Briefing on the Composition of Influenza Virus Vaccines for Use in the 2021-2022 Northern Hemisphere Influenza Season, the third meeting of the Strategic and Technical Advisory Group of Experts (STAGE) for Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health and Nutrition (MNCAHN), and Immunization and vaccines related implementation research advisory committee biennial conference. Among which, 7 sessions are directly related to COVID-19. The Taiwan authorities not only concealed all these from the local people but also fabricated lies and kept stressing the epidemic prevention gap. The message is clear, the Taiwan authorities have no intention to contain the pandemic, but every intention to seek independence no matter what it might cost.

As for Taiwan authorities’ argument for difficulties in communication, the Chinese Central Government and the WHO are just scapegoats. The real problem lies in its attempt to join the WHO as an “independent sovereign state or similar legal status”, and thereby violating the resolutions of the UN and WHO. The reason why the Taiwan region was able to attend the WHA in the name of “Chinese Taipei” as an observer from 2009 to 2016, is a special arrangement made by the cross-Strait consultations, based on mutual adherence to the 1992 Consensus, which states both the mainland and Taiwan belong to one and the same China. Now that the Taiwan authorities, led by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), refuse to acknowledge the 1992 Consensus, then refuse to upload focal points information on the website of IHR as a part of Chin, the political foundation previously negotiated through cross-Straits consultation for the Taiwan region of China to participate in the WHA stands no more and the Taiwan region is unable to continue attending the WHA. Now, only the doer can undo what he has done. We sincerely suggest the Taiwan authorities reflect on the importance of the 1992 Consensus, and rejoin the WHO through cross-Straits consultation, instead of non-political organizations.

In conclusion, the “WMA Council Resolution” approved at the 2005 council meeting and its revision proposed by the TMA prove invalid from both legal and factual perspectives. More importantly, it is weaponized political ammunition for Taiwan authorities to seek independence regardless of the health of local people. The CMA urges all members of the WMA to refrain from interfering in the internal affairs of a sovereign state, politicizing scientific issues, or taking any political stance on national sovereignty issues. We hope to see the WMA’s 1997 promise honored, and the Charter of the United Nations and the Constitution of the WHO observed. We call for rescinding the WMA Council Resolution on Observer Status for Taiwan to the World Health Organization (WHO) and Inclusion As Participating Party to the International Health Regulations (IHR) and for rejecting the revision thereof proposed by the TMA. We adjure all members of WMA to protect the mutuality of the organization from reducing to tools for political maneuvering.

On behalf of nearly 10 millions of Chinese medical professionals, CMA sincerely puts forward the above requests. We hope every council member and friend can respect the fact of One China, make rationale and appropriate decision.


Chinese Medical Association


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