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WHO needs to face up to China
Paul Lin

Article 1 of the World Health Organization's (WHO) Constitution stipulates, "The objective of the World Health Organization shall be the attainment by all peoples of the highest possible level of health." This is a humanitarian concern. But unfortunately, 23 million Taiwanese citizens are not among "all peoples." Aren't Taiwanese citizens "people" as well? Of course they are. But the WHO's high-ranking officials lack humanity. Or perhaps it's not because they are devoid of humanity, but because they are affected by the inhumane policies of communist China.

We know that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) believes there is no humanity that transcends class. Its humanitarianism is termed "revolutionary humanitarianism." The CCP does not recognize humanitarianism that does not tally with the political goal of "revolution." They never publicly rejected these doctrines, even after they began so-called "reforms and liberalization."

During the Cultural Revolution, people had to first disclose their status when seeing a doctor. Doctors could refuse to treat people from the "five black categories" --landlords, rich peasants, counter-revolutionaries, evildoers and rightists. Some "troublemakers," including high-ranking communist cadres, lost their lives for no reason.

But no one would have thought that China would apply that approach to Taiwan. As SARS was spreading in China and Hong Kong to the point of threatening Taiwan, the WHO dared not send its personnel to Taiwan to provide directive opinions without China's approval because Taiwan belongs to the five black categories in China's eyes.

Only after Taiwan's disease control network had been punctured,? jeopardizing people's health and raising fears that the outbreak might spread, like in Hong Kong, did the WHO dispatch its specialists to the country. China took pleasure in claiming that it had approved their trip to Taiwan, as if it were already Taiwan's master.

SARS originated in China. The CCP exported the virus into Taiwan and took advantage of Taiwan's crisis to demonstrate its claim over Taiwan. This is no different from its launching biochemical warfare on Taiwan and then taking advantage of Taiwan's casualties and public panic to occupy the nation. It is this lack of humanity that makes China a "rogue state" in the US' eyes.

Faced with a grave SARS outbreak in her own country, China's Health Minister Wu Yi still stressed in a telephone conversation with US Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson that Taiwan is part of China and is not qualified to join the WHO. Wu also said that China is very much concerned about the health of its Taiwanese compatriots, and that Taiwan's professional health organizations have sent specialists to China to study and attend relevant conferences there.

Taiwan's Department of Health (DOH) convened an international conference to address the SARS problem in April. China refused to send its scholars and professionals to Taiwan under the pretext that it could not make it in time. How could it decline to contribute its precious opinions if it really cared about the health of the Taiwanese people? Taiwanese specialists' attendance at a seminar in Beijing was painted by Wu as a proof that the central authorities are concerned about Taiwan's performance. The Taiwanese experts, who thought they could leave politics aside, fell into China's trap.

Now the problem lies in that people's health in democratic Taiwan is ignored by the WHO and that Taiwan's intentions to contribute to the international community with its health-related achievements over the years was turned down by the world body.

On the contrary, as a WHO member, China does not cooperate with the organization -- it covered up the SARS outbreak at the initial stages; WHO personnel were kept in Beijing for about 10 days and prevented from going to Guangdong; China played tricks when WHO representatives were checking Beijing's military hospitals; Dr. Jiang Yanyong was intimidated after exposing the truth to the media; and the WHO's inspection in Shanghai faced mountains of obstacles.

Aren't these the same kind of actions that Iraq showed to UN arms inspectors prior to the war? If the WHO respects the thuggish stance toward Taiwan adopted by China, a rogue state that has brought a major disaster to human kind, then isn't the WHO making itself an accomplice to a tyrant's crimes? Will the WHO allow China to treat Taiwanese people the same way it does its own citizens?

The WHO should learn a lesson from China's behavior and make Taiwan its member, or at least first allow it to attend the meeting as an observer. This does not violate the regulations about "membership and associate membership" in Article 3 of the WHO Constitution.

Beijing also has to take responsibility for the calamity caused by its lies and pay the price. One of its long list of lies is that Taiwan is not a sovereign state. As the WHO representatives set foot in Taiwan this time, they should be able to tell whether Taiwan is an independent sovereignty or a local government at Beijing's command.

Beijing was opposed to the WHO's representatives coming to Taiwan.

Hopefully, the Taiwanese people will receive humane treatment by way of the country's entry into the WHO. Taiwan could then contribute to global health.

As for the UN, the "boss" of the WHO, we earnestly invite UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to review the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and see whether he has been treating Taiwanese citizens as human beings, who need to safeguard their basic right to be free from fear in the face of China's weapons and virus threats.

Paul Lin is a political commentator based in New York

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