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Inclusion of Taiwan in WHO

  • Category
    International Relations
  • Published
    30th May, 2020

The leaders of United States (US)'s congressional foreign affairs committees have written to over 60 nations (Germany, Thailand, Canada, Britain, Saudi Arabia and Australia) to garner their support towards the inclusion of Taiwan in the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Context

The leaders of United States (US)'s congressional foreign affairs committees have written to over 60 nations (Germany, Thailand, Canada, Britain, Saudi Arabia and Australia) to garner their support towards the inclusion of Taiwan in the World Health Organisation (WHO).

About

  • The country is commonly known by the name “Taiwan” but officially it is actually called the Republic of China. 
  • The island of Taiwan floats in the South China Sea, just over one hundred miles from the coast of mainland China.
  • Taiwa is not a member of the WHO, because most governments do not recognize it as an independent state.
  • The Communist Party in China claims Taiwan as its own territory, even though it has never had sovereign control there.

World Health Organization

  • The World Health Organizationis a specialized agency of the United Nations.
  • It was inagurated following the second world war on 7 April 1948 – a date now celebrated as World Health Day. 
  • Based in Geneva, Switzerland,  the WHO has 194 member states.

Reason behind the move

  • To this date, Taiwan is not a part of the WHO owing to objections from China which calls the nation a part of its own.
  • However, that has not deterred Taiwan from seeking to join a ministerial meeting of WHO's decision-making body, the World Health Assembly (WHA). The meeting is set to be held in the coming days of this month.
  • Taiwan is trying to partake in the meeting with packing from the US and several of its allies.
  • Taiwan’s response to the COVID-19 has been recognised as commendable by the health authorities globally since the country has reportedlyhad 380 confirmed cases and 5 deaths, a stunningly low number for a population of 23.6 million.
  • It has emerged as a global exemplar. Yet it remains effectively locked out of membership in the WHO due to its complex relationship with China.

How will it impact India?

  • India is among the 179 of the 193 member states of the UN that do not maintain diplomatic ties with Taiwan.
  • This is also a challenge for India, which is set to take over as the chairperson of the WHO’s executive decision making body in May-end.
  • India is in a tough spot over rising global pressure and sharpening faultlines between the US and China.
  • India has to take a stand on whether it is going to support the US’s demand of reinstating Taiwan’s observer status at the WHA which China will argue goes against New Delhi’s longstanding ‘One-China’ policy.

Conclusion

  • If India aims to share ideas and best practices among countries in the Indo-Pacific region to respond effectively to the complex challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic then supporting Taiwan’s admission would be a welcome move. India’s foreign policy vision has evolved stance where issue-based alignments are becoming the norm. Its ties with Taiwan should also evolve accordingly.

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