Canada part of a small group of supporters . . .
A handful of countries, including Canada, have responded positively to a request by Taiwan president Tsai Ing-wen to restore its observer status in the World Health Organization (WHO). Other supporters include Japan and St. Lucia, one of Taiwan's diplomatic allies in the Caribbean. The request comes amid the global public health crisis caused by the spread of the coronavirus. Taiwan has confirmed 10 cases of coronavirus and has closed its borders to all residents of Wuhan. Currently, more than one million people from Taiwan work or live in China.
Taiwan’s ambiguous status . . .
Taiwan is not a member of the United Nations, according to a 1971 resolution recognizing the People’s Republic of China as the only representative of China. Taiwan did hold observer status at the World Health Assembly, the WHO’s decision-making body, from 2009-2016, when a more Beijing-friendly government was in power. After Tsai’s election in 2016, China barred Taiwan from participation due to her views on Taiwan’s independence from Mainland China. Restoring Taiwan’s observer status in the WHO would allow it to send representatives to crucial meetings and receive timely updates on the current epidemic.
Trudeau’s delicate balancing act . . .
Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed gratitude today for the support of the Canadian government, though China has not yet responded. In recent years, Taiwan has ramped up its efforts to create space for its participation in international affairs, not only in areas such as health, but also in aviation and fishing. How Canada navigates this delicate cross-Strait balancing act could have implications for Canada’s already tense relationship with Beijing.
- Foreign Policy: As Wuhan virus spreads, Taiwan has no say at WHO
- The Taiwan News: Canada's Trudeau supports Taiwan involvement in WHO
- The Globe and Mail: The fate of Taiwan hangs in the balance