Taiwan struggles for WHO recognition
GENEVA, Switzerland -- Taiwan is once again making its presence felt in the international political stage by vying for recognition by the World Health Organization.
The 191 member-nations of the WHO began their week-long annual World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland on Monday to tackle health issues from bioterrorism to AIDS.
The arrival of a delegation from Taiwan to push the island's case for observer status will force the U.N. top policy body to tackle the sensitive issue.
Noting China's stark opposition to the move, WHO executive director David Nabarro told Reuters news agency Taiwan "is not an entity that has relations of any kind with WHO."
However, he noted that officials from Taiwan can attend the assembly "as members of the public."
For the past five years, Taiwan has attempted to get observer status at WHO, but has failed because of rival China's objections.
Last year Beijing rallied its allies at the World Health Assembly to stop the Taiwanese application being included on the agenda.
Taiwan is gaining ground in the race, however, after having won the support of the United States and several European nations.
In March, the European parliament passed a nonbinding resolution urging European Union nations to support Taiwan at this year's meeting.
U.S. President George W. Bush, meanwhile, signed a bill last month giving U.S. backing to Taiwan.
The move has reportedly angered China, straining Sino-U.S. relations, as it accused the U.S. of supporting Taiwan's bid for independence.
Taiwan claims its bid is driven by humanitarian issues, and aims to press for international health assistance for the 23 million people on the island.
China has said Taiwan has sufficient access to health assistance from the mainland, and does not require assistance from WHO.
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