China slams New Zealand for supporting Taiwan’s participation in global health meeting

China lashed out at New Zealand on Monday for backing efforts to include Taiwan in an upcoming global health meeting, with a government spokesman saying Beijing “deplores and opposes” efforts to include Taipei in the annual gathering.

“Such erroneous remarks on the New Zealand side severely violate the one-China principle. China deplores and opposes them and has lodged representations with the New Zealand side,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said in a briefing with reporters.

New Zealand last week joined earlier calls by the U.S., and supported by Canada, Australia and Germany, for Taiwan to be included in the upcoming meeting of the World Health Assembly (WHA), the decisionmaking body that oversees the World Health Organization (WHO).

Member nations are expected to participate in a virtual meeting on May 18.

Zhao on Monday accused Taiwan of pushing for observer status at the meeting and characterized the move as “political manipulation” and part of a campaign seeking independence.

“The timing reveals its true motive, which is to use the current outbreak to seek ‘Taiwan independence.’ It is out-and-out political manipulation,” he said.

The U.S. is leading global calls for Taiwan’s inclusion at the conference, having earlier circulated a draft resolution among United Nations member states pushing for Taipei’s participation.

The move by the U.S. is seen as a way to highlight criticism of China’s handling of the deadly virus but also reflective of Taiwan’s success in containing the coronavirus.

Beijing views support of the island-nation as a threat to its claims over the territory.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last week called for Taiwan’s inclusion at the WHA, pressing European nations to support the move and for WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus to invite Taiwan.

“I also call upon WHO Director-General Tedros to invite Taiwan to observe this month’s WHA, as he has the power to do, and as his predecessors have done on multiple occasions,” Pompeo said.

Pompeo has accused Beijing of failing to warn the world early on about the threat posed by the coronavirus and of suppressing information about the extent of the virus.

On Friday, a bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers who oversee foreign affairs called for other nations to push for Taiwan’s inclusion, sending a letter to 55 governments with their request.

“Although we are aware that the WHO has maintained some technical and working-level cooperation with Taiwan – including during the COVID-19 pandemic – Beijing’s bullying tactics have effectively barred Taiwan from crucial discussions related to public health and safety,” wrote the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Sens. Jim Risch (R-Idaho) and Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), as well as the the chairman and ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Reps. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) and Michael McCaul (R-Texas), respectively.

“We therefore urge your government to join the United States and a growing number of countries in calling for an end to the Government of the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) efforts to exclude Taiwan from international organizations, especially the World Health Organization (WHO),” they wrote.

Tags Bob Menendez Coronavirus COVID-19 Eliot Engel Jim Risch Michael McCaul Mike Pompeo Pandemic State Department World Health Assembly World Health Organization

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