President Tsai Ing-wen met with the members of Taiwan's World Health Assembly (WHA) action team on the morning of May 25. She praised the team for taking practical steps to show the world Taiwan's commitment and determination to help achieve the human right to health. The president reiterated that health issues and disease prevention efforts should transcend national borders, and that Taiwan, which contributes actively to international medical and public health undertakings, should not be excluded from the WHA. President Tsai also commented on the recent renaming of the Coordination Council for North American Affairs (CCNAA)—Taiwan's representative office in the United States—as the Taiwan Council for US Affairs (TCUSA). She said the name change attests to the stability of Taiwan-US relations, and shows that support for Taiwan in the international community will continue to grow.
In remarks, President Tsai first thanked Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-Chung (陳時中) and his WHA action team for tapping into the power of medical organizations and the expatriate community, and employing a wide range of practical steps on the front lines of the WHA in Geneva to show the world Taiwan's commitment and determination to help achieve the human right to health. The president expressed her most sincere thanks, and praised the delegation for a "job well done!"
The president pointed out that even though Taiwan was unable, due to China's obstruction, to formally attend the WHA proceedings, our WHA action team was nevertheless able to hold 71 bilateral sideline meetings with many important countries and international partners to share Taiwan's professional expertise in the fields of medicine and public health. In the process, the team's efforts yielded many diplomatic successes.
President Tsai pointed out that this year, in particular, more and more international partners—including our diplomatic allies as well as the United States and other like-minded countries—are voicing strong support for Taiwan at many important venues, and defending Taiwan's right to take part in the WHA. Many diplomatic allies give Taiwan high marks for contributing its medical expertise, and the national health insurance system that Taiwan is proud of is also widely praised. Excluding Taiwan from the WHA deprives us of the opportunity to share our experience with other nations, and makes it more difficult for other countries to learn from us.
President Tsai further explained that many diplomatic allies emphasize that Taiwan, given its geographic location, should be included in the global disease prevention system. They argue, said the president, that Taiwan occupies a key place in that system, so we shouldn't allow political interference by a single country to create a gap in that system. On behalf of the people of Taiwan, the president expressed the deepest gratitude for this support from the international community, and the efforts people have made at international venues to defend Taiwan.
The president stated that during a bilateral meeting between Health Minister Chen and United States Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar, the two sides exchanged views on such issues as disease prevention and food safety, and discussed what they can do to enhance future cooperation. In addition, the Ministry of Health and Welfare signed a memorandum of understanding for cooperation with the Geneva University Hospitals. Geneva University will help Taiwan establish emergency medical teams that meet international standards, she said, so we will be able to contribute our emergency response experience and expertise to the international community.
President Tsai pointed out that Taiwan has always been an active and responsible member of the international community. In the field of medical care, in particular, we are willing to share our advanced technologies and experience, and work together with the international community to respond to global health challenges.
And finally, President Tsai said that Taiwan absolutely will not back down in the face of wanton political suppression or unreasonable threats. Health issues and disease prevention efforts should transcend national borders. Taiwan, which contributes actively to international medical and public health efforts, should not be excluded from the WHA. Switching to English, the president said: "Health For All. Taiwan can help!" She then concluded by affirming that Taiwan will continue to do all it can.
Following the president's remarks, Health Minister Chen used a photo collage to show the president some of the highlights from the WHA action team's activities in Geneva.
Minister Chen, the team leader, led the WHA action team delegation to the Presidential Office to meet with President Tsai. Also present at the meeting were National Security Council Secretary-General David T. Lee (李大維), Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮), and National Security Council Deputy Secretary-General Tsai Ming-yen (蔡明彥).