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June 28, 2017

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No 'Taiwan' in WHA address a 'cross-ministry decision'

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Not mentioning Taiwan during Health Minister Lin Tzou-yien's (林奏延) Wednesday address at the World Health Assembly (WHA) in Geneva was a cross-ministry decision, a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said on Thursday.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Eleanor Wang told local media that it was not the decision of the ministry alone, but a cross-ministry consensus for Lin not to mention Taiwan in his address, made at the suggestion of the Foreign Ministry.

Wang noted that the R.O.C. government is a united organization with distinct ministries and branches responsible for different missions.

Wang said the Ministry of Health and Welfare is responsible for the nation's meaningful participation in the WHA, and to share the contributions of Taiwan's medical profession with the world.

Wang said that the Foreign Ministry is responsible for ensuring that Taiwan's participation in the assembly is carried out "smoothly and effectively."

She also noted that the Taiwanese delegation's ongoing participation in the WHA has a much wider scope than Lin's five-minute speech.

"We hope people can focus more on the delegation's overall achievement at this year's WHA," she added.

Sources close to the matter told the Chinese-language Apple Daily that the decision not to mention Taiwan in Lin's address was actually approved by senior national security officials.

During his English-language speech in front of the assembly on Wednesday, Lin, a member of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) cabinet, repeatedly referred to the R.O.C. as "Chinese Taipei," the name Taiwan uses to participate in the assembly as an observer, rather than "Taiwan."

Comparatively, several former health ministers under the Kuomintang (KMT) administration mentioned "Taiwan" in their WHA speeches during Taiwan's prior participation in the assembly, according to local media reports.

Lin's performance was criticized by several lawmakers who attended the WHA with him who said using "Chinese Taipei" instead of "Taiwan" is"disappointing and regrettable."

For the Sake of

Cross-strait Relations

Lin later explained to local media that he decided not to mention Taiwan in his address for the sake of cross-strait relations.

Taiwan has attended the WHA as an observer under the name "Chinese Taipei" since 2009, the year after former President Ma Ying-jeou of the KMT was inaugurated for his first term.

As in the previous seven years, Taiwan was invited to attend as an observer under the name "Chinese Taipei" this year.

Unlike in previous years, however, the World Health Organization (WHO) cited United Nations Resolution No. 2758 and the "one China principle" in its invitation to Taiwan.

The unprecedented mention of the "one China" principle by the WHO in its letter has sparked debate over whether the DPP government should send a delegation to the meeting.

The DPP government ultimately decided to send Lin but the minister also sent a letter of protest to the WHO on May 23 over the mentioning of "one China principle" in its invitation.

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