US to highlight Taiwan’s bid prior to WHA assembly: Official

US to highlight Taiwan’s bid prior to WHA assembly: Official
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Washington, April 30 (CNA) The United States will soon speak on behalf of Taiwan’s bid to take part as an observer at the World Assembly (WHA) in Geneva later this month, a US official said at a Senate subcommittee hearing Tuesday.

“We will speak out again very soon, as we have consistently every year, in support of Taiwan’s observership at the WHA,” said Daniel J. Kritenbrink, assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs at the US Department of State.

“I think last year we had 22 countries supporting us. I expect that number will grow this year,” Kritenbrink said at the hearing on US policy on Taiwan held by the Senate Subcommittee on East Asia, The Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy.

Taiwan has not been a member of the United Nations since the Republic of China (Taiwan’s official name) was expelled from the body in 1971 and its seat was given to the People’s Republic of China (PRC), and it therefore cannot take part in UN organization events.

It has sought to participate as an observer in forums such as the WHA and also pushed for UN membership, but China has argued that under UN Resolution 2758, Taiwan was part of China and could not be a separate UN member.

Kritenbrink reiterated at the hearing that China’s logic is faulty.

“We are pushing back against the PRC’s efforts to mischaracterize UN General Assembly Resolution 2758, which did not constitute a UN institutional position on the ultimate political status of Taiwan,” he said.

Kritenbrink said the resolution did not preclude Taiwan’s meaningful participation in the UN system or in any other multilateral forum, and “did not endorse, is not equivalent to, and does not reflect a consensus for the PRC’s ‘one China principle.'”

At the hearing, Committee Chairman Ben Cardin quizzed Kritenbrink about the steps the US will take to push for Taiwan’s WHA participation.

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Kritenbrink said the US will continue to advocate for maintaining and increasing Taiwan’s “international space.”

“The strategy is, Mr. Chairman, I think you’ll see in the coming days that we will again state categorically, publicly, our support for Taiwan’s meaningful participation and observership at the WHA, and we will engage diplomatically around the world to get partner support for that effort.

“Taiwan is a very capable health partner. They have been observers in the WHA before. They deserve to be,” Kritenbrink said.

He said he also agreed with Cardin’s assessment that it was not a coincidence that since President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) was elected in 2016, China has become more aggressive in opposing Taiwan’s participation in the WHA and elsewhere.

Taiwan has not been invited to the annual WHA since 2017 because of a virtual freeze in relations after Tsai and her independence-leaning party took power.

Meanwhile, Health Minister Hsueh Jui-yuan (薛瑞元) said in Taipei on April 29 that Taiwan has yet to receive an invitation to attend this year’s WHA, which will be held from May 27 to June 1.

(By Flor Wang and YC Chung)

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