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May 23, 2017

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Still no invitation to the World Health Assembly amid frosty cross-strait relations

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- A day before online registration for this year's World Health Assembly (WHA) closes, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs reported that no progress had been made in Taiwan's efforts to gain an invitation to the global summit.

The Foreign Ministry stated yesterday that Taiwan still had not received an invitation to the decision-making summit of the World Health Organization (WHO), and that "there is no new progress."

Since 2009, Taiwan has attended the WHA under the designation of Chinese Taipei, under an agreement between the then-ruling Kuomintang administration and the government in Beijing and the World Health Organization.

Cross-strait ties have cooled since President Tsai Ing-wen took office in May 2016 and repeatedly declined on state occasions to reaffirm the so-called "1992 Consensus," which Beijing insists upon as a basis for cross-strait relations. This resistance has cast heavy doubt over Taiwan's participation in global events including last year's Interpol assembly, from which Taiwan was ultimately barred. Last year, Taiwan received an invitation to the WHA only right before the deadline for online registration ended.

For the first time since 2009, the invitation for Taiwan had underscored that participation was predicated on United Nations Resolution 2758, the WHA Resolution 25.1 and the "one China" principle.

Scholar Chao Chun-shan (趙春山) said Friday Beijing believed Tsai "certainly was not for unification and could very possibly be for independence."

As a result, the two sides have devolved into a "strategic confrontation," said the Tamkang University professor at a forum. If Taiwan is barred from participating in the WHA, this strategic confrontation will evolve into a strategic conflict, he said.

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