STATE DEPARTMENT - The United States is rallying support to back Taiwan’s observer status in the World Health Assembly (WHA,) the decision-making body of the World Health Organization (WHO), leading into its annual meeting May 18-19.
"Today, I want to call on all nations, including those in Europe, to support Taiwan's participation as an observer at the World Health Assembly and other relevant United Nations venues," U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday during a press conference.
The top U.S. diplomat is calling on WHO's Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus to "invite Taiwan to observe this month's WHA, as he has the power to do, and as his predecessors have done on multiple occasions."
The State Department's Bureau of International Organization Affairs initiated a series of tweets featuring #TweetforTaiwan and #Taiwanmodel on May 1, a rare move seen in recent years.
"Join us to #TweetforTaiwan's inclusion at the upcoming World Health," said the bureau in a tweet.
Join us to #TweetforTaiwan's inclusion at the upcoming World Health Assembly so #Taiwan can bring its incredible expertise to the fight against #Covid19. The world needs Taiwan in this fight! Tell @WHO that it is time for Taiwan to be heard.— IO Bureau @ State (@State_IO) May 1, 2020
"Is it too much to ask that Taiwan be permitted to share their expertise, their commitment, with the rest of the world?" said the bureau in another tweet.
Is it too much to ask that Taiwan be permitted to share their expertise, their commitment, with the rest of the world? Will the world succumb to the PRC's pressure and intimidation? It's time to be heard, and time to #TweetforTaiwan #TaiwanModel— IO Bureau @ State (@State_IO) May 1, 2020
The U.S. move is seen as an open rebuke to China. The Beijing government has been blocking Taiwan's representation at WHO meetings after the self-ruled democracy elected Tsai Ing-wen, a China skeptic, as Taiwan's president in 2016 and won re-election in 2020.
Delegates from Taiwan had attended the World Health Assembly as nonvoting observers from 2009 to 2016, during a period of relatively warm ties between Beijing and Taipei.
The support comes at a time when Washington is sounding the alarm on foreign governments' disinformation campaigns, calling out China as questions arise about China's influence over the WHO amid the COVID-19 pandemic.