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Statement by H.E. Mr. ZHANG Wenkang, Head of the Chinese Delegation and Minister of Health, At the 55th Session of the World Health Assembly On Taiwan-related Issues (Geneva, 13 May 2002)
2004/04/19
Mr. President,

Thank you for giving me the floor. I am confident that under your outstanding leadership, this session of the WHA will successfully accomplish all its tasks.

Mr. President, Your Excellencies Ministers and Delegates,

At the past five sessions of the Assembly, a small number of countries, year after year, came up with Taiwan-related proposals. The Taiwan question was settled politically and legally as early as at the beginning of 1970s. It should not be in any way reviewed or decided here by this specialized agency. This has only repeatedly disrupted the work of the WHA and resulted in unnecessary political confrontation and waste of resources. At this morning's General Committee meeting, the same thing happened again. Such a thing should never have happened. This is really unfortunate for WHO. The Chinese Delegation cannot but express its regret.

I wish to state hereby the basic position of the Chinese Government on Taiwan-related proposals. Such a proposal by a small number of countries is in fact a challenge to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of a Member State. This runs counter to the fundamental principles of the UN Charter as well as the relevant resolutions of the UN General Assembly and the WHA. This is also an abuse of the right to submit proposals by Member States.

Respect for state sovereignty and territorial integrity and opposing outside interference are fundamental principles championed by the UN Charter governing state-to-state relations. There is only one China in the world and Taiwan is a part of China. The question of Taiwan is an internal affair of the Chinese people and it can only be solved by the Chinese people on the two sides of the Taiwan Straits. No interference from any other country will be allowed, be it big or small, rich or poor.  In the Chinese history, numerous patriots including many people from Taiwan sacrificed their lives to defend China's state sovereignty and territorial integrity. Today, some people attempt to use a sheet of paper to create "two Chinas" or "one China, one Taiwan" in the world and to challenge the resolve of the Chinese Government and people to achieve national reunification. Such attempts are doomed to failure.

It is known to all that WHO is one of the specialized agencies of the United Nations and only sovereign states can become its members. UN General Assembly Resolution 2758 and Resolution WHA 25.1 clearly stipulate that the representatives of the Government of People's Republic of China are the only legitimate representatives of China to UN, WHO and all other UN agencies. Taiwan, as a province of China, is not eligible to participate in the WHA.

No sovereign state will allow part of its territory to join under whatever name any international organization open only to sovereign states. This is common sense. As members of the United Nations, all states should abide by the UN Charter and the relevant UNGA resolution. As members of WHO, all states should naturally abide by the Constitution and the relevant WHA resolution. The attempt by some countries to include Taiwan in WHA actually defies the legal principles of the UN Charter and WHO. Can we allow such things to happen? The only answer is no!

Despite their failure in the past five years, the Taiwan authorities and their lobbyists are now playing a new trick, the so-called "health entity".  We don't have to discuss how many entities there are in this world and how many more there will be. One thing is obvious. WHO is a UN agency whose membership is open only to sovereign states. It is not something made up of so-called entities. There is no such a concept as "health entity" in the WHO Constitution, and there has never been any case of health entity in over fifty years of practice of WHO. No matter what name the Taiwan authorities and their lobbyists use, be it the Republic of China, Taiwan or health entity, their only purpose is to squeeze into the UN and other international organizations so as to split China, create "two Chinas" or "one China, one Taiwan". They seem to have excessively underestimated the ability of the delegates to judge.

The Taiwan authorities and its lobbyists claim that if Taiwan does not become a member of the WHO, no one will be there to take care of the health of the 23 million people from Taiwan, and the goal of "health for all" will never be realized in Taiwan. Following their logic, only after all the provinces or states, shires, cantons of sovereign States joined WHO respectively, could "health for all" be possible. This is an open challenge to WHO's Constitution and its membership composition. The Taiwan authorities claim that to exclude Taiwan from the WHO is to prevent Taiwan from contributing to world health. Following this line of reasoning, any domestic administrative division of Member States or any entity could join WHO under the pretext of contributing to the work of WHO. If we allow this to happen, WHO would be completely disfigured. They also argue that since Taiwan could join WTO, it can also join WHO. This is an attempt to impose the "WTO model" on the WHO. However, WHO is not WTO. WHO is a specialized agency of the United Nations and only sovereign states can become its members. The WTO model simply does not apply to the UN and its specialized agencies.

These arguments of the Taiwan authorities and their lobbyists are really not so smart. Their activities to split China and undermine cross-Straits security and stability totally disregard the well-being of people from Taiwan. Nothing can be more irresponsible.

Mr. President, I would like to make four points of clarification on the so-called "WTO model".

1. WTO and WHO are different in nature. WHO is a specialized UN agency while WTO is not an international organization within the UN system.  What's more, WTO's charter is different from WHO's constitution.

2. WHO and WTO are not compatible in terms of organizational structure. WHO membership is only open to sovereign states, while WTO's membership, in addition to sovereign states, can also include separate customs territories. In this regard, WTO and UN organizations including WHO are fundamentally different.

3. Taiwan joined WTO under the name of "Chinese Taipei" and with the consent of the central government of China. Allowing Taiwan to join WTO is a special arrangement made by the Chinese Government under special circumstances. This does not mean any change in our position on Taiwan or any change of Taiwan's status.

4. Taiwan's entry into WTO shall not serve as a precedent for other intergovernmental organizations and international activities (such as WHO or WHA) to go by. Article 12 of WTO's Charter permits separate customs territories to become WTO members. Taiwan joined WTO under the name of "Chinese Taibei Separate Customs Territory" ("Chinese Taibei" in short). WHO's Constitution stipulates that only sovereign states can become its full members and the overseas territory of a country can become its associate member. Obviously, Taiwan does not fall in the above two categories. It shows again that Taiwan is not eligible for participation in WHO's activities or WHA in any form or under any name.

In fact, the Chinese central government is always committed to the health and well-being of people from Taiwan. Here I would like to stress on three points.

First, network technology is highly developed in today's world. Taiwan, like any other Chinese provinces, has full access to WHO's health information including that of the early warning of global epidemics and can benefit from the progress made by world in health field.

Second, People from mainland, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao are all Chinese. You may have noticed that the Chinese delegation to this session of the WHA include health officials from Hong Kong and Macao. We very much look forward to Taiwan's return to the motherland so that the mainland, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao can work together for world health.

Third, even under current circumstances, the Chinese Government has always actively promoted cross-Straits exchanges and cooperation. Every year, several hundred cross-Straits visits are organized to carry out exchanges and cooperation in the health field with several thousand people involved. Had the Taiwan authorities not obstructed, cross-Straits cooperation in health would have been better and more productive. Therefore, closer cooperation and earlier reunification will serve best the fundamental interests of people from Taiwan, including their right to health.

Mr. President, Your Excellencies Ministers and Delegates,

Now, before us is the General Committee's proposal not to include Taiwan related proposal as a supplementary item in the agenda of the WHA. I am confident that rumors stop with the wise and justice will prevail. I also believe that most of you will make the right judgment regarding this proposal, just as what you did in the past five years.

Thank you, Mr. President.
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