Taiwan denounces China's 'shameless lies' about WHO access

·2-min read
Taiwan Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Joanne Ou speaks at a news conference in Taipei

TAIPEI (Reuters) -Taiwan's foreign minister criticised what he called China's "shameless lies" on Tuesday in an escalating dispute about Beijing blocking the island from the World Health Organization (WHO), saying China clearly did not care about Taiwan's people.

The United States and the rich-nation Group of Seven (G7) have called for Chinese-claimed but democratically ruled Taiwan to attend the WHO's decision-making body, the World Health Assembly, which meets from May 24.

Taiwan is excluded from most global organisations such as the WHO because of the objections of China, which considers the island one of its provinces not a country.

China's foreign ministry said on Monday that "appropriate arrangements" have been made for Taiwan's participation in global health matters and that nobody cared more for Taiwan's people than the Chinese government.

"Shameless lies! Just goes to show the CCP can't tell the truth," Taiwan Foreign Minister Joseph Wu said on Twitter, referring to China's ruling Communist Party.

"After what Beijing has done to Xinjiang, Tibet & Hong Kong, no sane person would believe it could take care of Taiwan's health needs or otherwise," Wu added. "Thank God we aren't under China's control! Please help us keep it at a distance."

Wu said China's Communist Party could not claim to speak for Taiwan as it has never ruled it and only the island's democratically elected government can represent its people.

In Beijing, Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said the blame lay with Taiwan's ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) for refusing to accept the island was part of China.

"The DPP authorities know this well. Taiwan compatriots are our flesh and blood. The Chinese central government takes all necessary measures to ensure the health and well-being of the Taiwan compatriots," she added.

While the WHO cooperates with Taiwan's technical experts on COVID-19, it is up to member states whether to invite Taiwan to observe the WHO meeting, the WHO's principal legal officer Steve Solomon said on Monday.

China can easily corral enough countries to support blocking Taiwan from the World Health Assembly, according to diplomats.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Additional reporting by David Kirton in Beijing; Editing by Robert Birsel)