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June 28, 2017

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Future roadblocks likely for Taiwan as new WHO chief signals he'll kowtow to China

The newly elected leader of the World Health Organization has pledged fealty to Beijing's "One China" principle, signaling further challenges for Taiwan, which was excluded from this year's World Health Assembly in Geneva.

According to China's state news agency Xinhua, new WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom met with China's delegation during the WHA and pledged that the organization would continue insisting on the "One China" principle in future issues related to Taiwan. China in return said it would deepen its cooperation with the WHO, Xinhua reported.

On Tuesday, Taiwanese Health Minister Chen Shih-chung exchanged brief words with Adhanom during a chance meeting at a Geneva hotel. Chen told him that Taiwan wished to participate in the assembly, to which Adhanom responded: "I know."

Chen then congratulated Adhanom on his election, presented him with his business card and the two shook hands.

The health minister is in Geneva to protest Taiwan's exclusion from the assembly, and has met separately with officials from the United States and Japan.

Meanwhile, the number of countries vouching for Taiwan's participation at the WHA has increased to 18, with Japan, Paraguay, Swaziland and 10 other countries expressing support for the island on Wednesday. The United States and Germany were among countries that voiced support earlier in the week.

Taiwan was not issued an invitation to participate in this year's WHA as an observer — its first absence since 2009 — due to Beijing's insistence that Taiwan's government accept the "One China" principle.

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