/ Staff writer, with CNA, WASHINGTON
China’s efforts to exclude Taiwan from the World Health Assembly （WHA） are harmful to cross-strait relations, a US Department of State official said on Thursday.
Office of Taiwan Coordination Director James Heller told a seminar in Washington hosted by the Project 2049 Institute and the Global Taiwan Institute that such efforts by China also run counter to its goal of winning the support of the Taiwanese public.
With the WHO scheduled to hold its annual assembly in Geneva, Switzerland, on May 20, Heller said that Taiwan was not invited last year due to pressure from China, and he reiterated the US’ firm support for Taiwan’s participation in international organizations.
“The United States will continue to support Taiwan’s membership in international organizations where statehood is not a requirement for membership, and its meaningful participation in international organizations where statehood is a requirement,” Heller said.
In the area of public health, it is in everyone’s interest for Taiwan to play a role in addressing global challenges, he said.
“That is why we will continue to support Taiwan’s meaningful participation in the upcoming WHA,” Heller said.
The WHO’s decision last year to again deny Taiwan an invitation to participate in the WHA as an observer was “deeply troubling,” he said.
“This and other attempts by China to exclude Taiwan from international organizations prevents the international community from benefiting from Taiwan’s expertise, harms cross-strait relations and runs counter to Beijing’s own professed goal of winning the support of the people of Taiwan,” Heller said.
The US would continue to look for other ways for Taiwan to win the dignity and respect that its contributions to global challenges merit, he said.
In a recorded video address to the seminar’s participants, Legislative Speaker Su Jia-chyuan （蘇嘉全） thanked the US for helping Taiwan to effectively deter the threat from China.
The US’ Taiwan Relations Act has over the past 40 years remained intact, despite several changes of government, demonstrating that long-lasting peace could only be achieved through laws enacted with public consent in a stable democratic system, Su said.
China’s saber-rattling would jeopardize peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region, he said, urging the US to maintain its support for Taiwan.
The participants included US Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific and International Cybersecurity Policy Chairman Cory Gardner and retired US Air Force general David Stilwell, who was last year nominated by US President Donald Trump to fill the post of US assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs.
US Department of State Office of Taiwan Coordination Director James Heller speaks at a seminar in Washington on Thursday. Photo: CNA