A recent Australia-China political spat over accountability for the COVID-19 pandemic has been expanded, now pulling Taiwan into the mix, and with Canberra officially supporting Taiwanese inclusion at the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Australia has long been supportive of Taiwan’s efforts to attend the WHO, but in recent years Beijing has sought to exclude the island nation altogether, claiming it as a part of China.
Earlier Friday, reports out of Australia indicate that Canberra was not happy with this viewpoint, and will now now formally back Taiwan’s inclusion at the WHO under ‘guest or observer’ status.
Taiwan has been blocked from attending the WHO for the past four years at China’s behest.
This ongoing tactic of China has largely been seen as a reaction to the democratic election of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in 2016, by the Taiwanese people.
Referring to the latest move by his government, and in particular to Taiwan’s record in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, a spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Australia was quoted as saying “The challenge of COVID-19 demands a determined, global response.”
“The WHO must therefore maintain a close working relationship with all health authorities” adding “This is consistent with our policy of supporting Taiwan’s practical participation in international organisations.”
Touching on Australia’s official stance on Beijing’s one-China concept, the spokesman also said “Where statehood is a requirement for membership of organisations, we support Taiwan’s participation as an observer or guest, consistent with(in) our one-China policy.”
It is understood the latest move by the government of Scott Morrision in Canberra follows a request by Taiwan’s Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung earlier in the week requesting Australian support for Taiwan’s attendance at the WHO.