The parliamentary groups of the traffic light parties and the Union are calling on the federal government in a joint motion to reintegrate Taiwan into the World Health Organization (WHO). In the paper available to WELT, the MPs demand that the government, as part of the German WHO membership, advocates allowing representatives of the Ministry of Health and the health authorities in Taiwan to participate as observers in the World Health Assembly and to enable them to have observer status in other WHO bodies . The application is to be decided this Thursday in the plenary session of the Bundestag.
Following the initiative to deliver heavy weapons to Ukraine, this is the second cross-party motion within a very short space of time with which Parliament has given the government instructions on how to act on foreign policy. In the case of Ukraine, the motion was aimed at Russia, and in the case of Taiwan, the Bundestag is now on a confrontational course with China.
Until 2016, Taiwan was allowed to participate in the World Health Assembly as an observer and at least had partial access to technical briefings, mechanisms and activities of the WHO. This changed with an intervention by the People’s Republic of China, which, citing its one-China policy, has ensured that Taiwan has been excluded since 2017.
The de facto politically independent Taiwan is being put under increasing pressure by the People’s Republic of China and its claim to reunification. In addition to military threats, Beijing uses economic and political means as well as cyber attacks and disinformation campaigns – and also prevents Taiwan from becoming a member of the WHO.
“Questions about global health and the fight against pandemics are not the right framework for Beijing’s political power games,” said the foreign policy spokesman for the FDP parliamentary group, Ulrich Lechte, WELT. Although Taiwan is diplomatically isolated, it has made an important contribution to containing the Covid 19 pandemic with donations of medical supplies such as masks, oxygen generators and vaccines. “Taiwan could also make a significant contribution to the WHO,” says Lechte. “The fact that the WHO refuses this offer of support due to Chinese pressure is irresponsible and must change.”
The health policy spokesman for the FDP parliamentary group, Andrew Ullmann, also believes that the time has come “for Taiwan to be able to take part in the World Health Assembly again as an observer. Everyone would benefit from that.” The corona pandemic has shown that there should be no gaps in the global health network: “Global health issues must not be politicized.”
According to a recent analysis by the Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik, Taiwan is of immense importance in the geopolitical dynamics of East Asia: “geo-strategically as part of the first chain of islands that restricts the People’s Republic of China’s access to the Pacific, and economically and technologically as a leading producer of microchips”. In the global system conflict between liberal-democratic and authoritarian social orders, Taiwan “occupies an outstanding position as a consolidated, pluralistic democracy and political counter-model to the authoritarian system of the People’s Republic of China”.
The federal government is committed to a one-China policy, which excludes diplomatic recognition of Taiwan. Still, there is scope to intensify relations with Taiwan and to counter China’s policy of intimidating Taiwan. The joint application by the SPD, Greens, FDP and Union for Taiwan’s participation in an international organization like the WHO is intended to do just that.
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