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MOFA still protests WHO 'Taiwan, China' memo

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Taiwanese government has continued to lodge protests with the World Health Organization (WHO) over a leaked memo that was exposed to the public in 2011 which belittled Taiwan's international status by labeling it as part of China, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) official said yesterday.

But there has been no official response from the WHO so far despite years of efforts, Tom Chou (周台竹), head of MOFA's Department of International Organizations, told a MOFA press briefing yesterday.

Chou made the remarks as he announced that Health Minister Chiu Wen-ta (邱文達) will again lead a delegation to the annual World Health Assembly (WHA) conference in Geneva from May 19-24 at the invitation of the WHO.

Chiu received the invitation letter from the WHO on April 9, he noted.

This will mark the sixth consecutive year that Taiwan will attend the conference since it was first invited as an observer under the name Chinese Taipei in 2009.

Before Chiu was scheduled to attend the 2011 WHA meeting, an opposition lawmaker revealed to local media an internal WHO letter that urged organization officials to use “Taiwan, Province of China” when referring to Taiwan in WHO publications

In response, Chiu subsequently delivered a strongly worded protest letter to the international organization while attending the WHA, the highest decision-making body of the WHO, in 2011.

The WHO has not made any response to Taiwan's repeated protest.

Asked to comment on the issue, Chou said yesterday that MOFA has been negotiating with the WHO over the past years.

The ministry has repeatedly expressed its severe protest to the WHO by writing letters to the organization, demanding it correct the designation.

No Response

According to Chou, the WHO, a specialized agency under the United Nations (UN), has not made an official response to Taiwan's request, citing the fact that Taiwan is not a member of the U.N.

“Although there has been no official response from the WHO so far, we will continue to work on it,” he said.

The 67th WHA scheduled for May 19-24 will discuss the connection between climate and health, and Chiu will deliver a speech related to the theme at the event, Chou said.

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