Taiwan and its supporters have been pushing to be included in the World Health Assembly, a meeting run by the World Health Organization that will focus on how each nation is successfully, or unsuccessfully, battling the coronavirus pandemic, but the WHO says it has “no mandate” to include Taiwan, and notes that several countries object to Taiwan’s independence.
Tedros Adhanom, the director general of the WHO, who allegedly helped cover up a cholera epidemic his home country of Ethiopia, claimed that he has “no mandate” to include Taiwan in the assembly, and WHO’s principal legal officer, Steven Solomon, claimed that only member states of the WHO can decide who may participate.
Several member states are vocally calling for Taiwan to be included. The United States, which froze its funding to the WHO after it became apparent that the organization downplayed the severity of coronavirus, likely at China’s prodding, has been lobbying for Taiwan’s participation for weeks.
New Zealand has joined the United States’ push for Taiwan to be included in recent days, even after China warned such action could damage the countries’ “bilateral ties” and potentially hurt the New Zealand economy.
When pushing for Taiwan to be included, the United States and New Zealand have stressed that since the beginning of the epidemic, despite the country being located on an island neighboring mainland China, the epicenter of the epidemic, Taiwan has only suffered 440 cases of coronavirus, and 7 deaths related to the virus, despite its population of 24 million.
While relations between New Zealand and China may be strained due to the country’s insistence on Taiwan’s inclusion, neighboring Australia has also received China’s wrath, as it has repeatedly pushed for an investigation of the origin of coronavirus, which is believed by many to have either emerged from bush meat in a Chinese wet market in the city of Wuhan, or to have been leaked from a laboratory near the wet market in Wuhan.
China has threatened Australia with economic consequences if they launch an investigation into Beijing’s handling of the Coronavirus outbreak which has paralyzed several countries and claimed tens of thousands of lives.
According to The Hill, Chinese Ambassador to Australia Cheng Jingye warned that Beijing could call for boycotts of Australian products and a halt of tourism to the land down under if an investigation were to be launched.
China’s threats have been dubbed “economic coercion” by Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne.
The links between the WHO and China have been the center of international drama in recent weeks, with Japan’s vice prime minister recently saying that the organization should change its name to the Chinese Health Organization.