Co-Chair and President’s joint letter to Director-General of WHO

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus
World Health Organization
Avenue Appia 20
1211 Geneva

Dear Director-General,

On behalf of the British-Taiwanese All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG), which is comprised of more than 140 members from the two chambers of the UK Parliament, we wish to express our deepest concern over the WHO’s Situation Reports on the 2019 novel coronavirus incorrectly listing Taiwan as part of China.

As you are surely aware, Taiwan is not under China’s jurisdiction, and Taiwan’s and China’s health care systems are administered by separate and independent health authorities. The WHO’s decision to list Taiwan as part of China in its reports therefore seriously hinders the timely exchange of information between the proper authorities. This in turn dangerously undermines the international effort to address this global health emergency which is worsening at a worrying rate.

Listing Taiwan under China in the WHO reports also wrongly suggests that Taiwan, like China, possesses “very high risk” of the 2019 novel coronavirus, while in fact the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in Taiwan is lower than in most countries that are affected. With very limited cases and zero death toll, the situation in Taiwan in well managed and controlled by its health authority. Thus this incorrect information from the WHO has led to inappropriate policy decisions, like the one recently made by the Italian government to ban flights from Taiwan as of 31 January, causing unnecessary harm to all relevant parties.

Furthermore, the WHO’s treatment of Taiwan as part of China not only means that Taiwan’s democratically-elected government is barred from participating in the WHA, but also that Taiwanese health experts are prevented from taking part in WHO technical meetings. This seriously contradicts with the WHO’s motto of “health for all” and “leaving no one behind”, and renders the pursuit of a seamless global health security network impossible.

For all the reasons above, we respectfully urge the WHO to immediately correct this error of treating Taiwan as part of China, including wrongfully designating Taiwan under China in any reports. We also call upon the WHO to invite Taiwan to attend this year’s WHA as an observer and make proper arrangements to enable Taiwan’s full participation in WHO meetings, mechanisms and activities. We look forward to Taiwan’s timely inclusion in the WHO under your capable leadership.

Yours sincerely,

Lord Rogan, Co-Chair                            Lord Steel of Aikwood, President

Ms Kate White, Director for Asia-Pacific, Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Ms Clara Swinson, Director General for Global and Public Health, Department of Health and Social Care