China has dropped long-standing objections to Taiwan
participating in the World Health Organization's annual assembly. The
development marks a major victory in Taiwan's campaign for greater
China has allowed Taiwan to
participate in the next World Health Assembly next month. Seated
before television reporters Wednesday, Taiwanese Health Minister Yeh
Ching-chuan displayed the invitation letter from the World Health
Organization, which oversees the assembly.
Yeh reads the letter,
which says "I wish to invite the Department of Health, Chinese Taipei
to attend the 62nd World Health Assembly as an observer."
has applied to attend the assembly every year since 1997, but until
now, each attempt was blocked by the Beijing government. Beijing has
viewed Taiwan's participation in international organizations as
symbolic of sovereignty, which it opposes.
Taiwan as part of its territory, awaiting reunification, by force if
necessary. The island has been self-governed since Nationalist forces
fled the mainland following their defeat by the Communist army in 1949.
1971, Taiwan lost its United Nations seat as the representative
government of China. A year later, Taiwan was kicked out of the WHO.
taking office last May, Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou worked to
reduce tensions with Beijing by improving economic ties and cultural
exchanges. He took credit Wednesday for the invitation to the World
Mr. Ma says the result certainly has to do with his policies of enhancing cross-strait relations and foreign affairs.
the SARS outbreak in 2003, Taiwan officials pushed harder for
participation at the World Health Assembly, which will give access to
key medical information when there are international public health
threats, such as the current swine flu outbreak.