Taipei, May 17 (CNA) Health and Welfare Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said Wednesday that he will lead a delegation to Geneva at the time of the World Health Assembly (WHA) meeting and will protest Taiwan's exclusion from this year's 10-day conference.
During a legislative committee hearing, Chen said his delegation will depart May 20 and will try to hold bilateral talks with representatives of participating countries and attend technical meetings at the WHA.
Taiwan had hoped to attend this year's WHA in Geneva from May 22-31 as an observer, as it had done in the past, but did not receive an invitation from the World Health Organization (WHO) due to China's obstruction. The WHA is the WHO's decision-making body.
At Wednesday's legislative hearing, Chen told lawmakers in the Social Welfare and Environmental Hygiene Committee that his delegation will make every effort to hold discussions with representatives of the participating countries and will seek to have more bilateral meetings than the 32 held last year.
On the question of whether the Taiwanese delegation will stage a protest on the sidelines of the WHA, Chen said "protest is a must."
However, he said, the Taiwan delegation will likely face "suppression" by the organizers if it tries to attend technical meetings at the WHA.
Nonetheless, the delegation is prepared for that and will protest if it happens, Chen said.
The delegation will include Chou Jih-haw (周志浩), director-general of the Centers for Disease Control; Wu Shou-mei (吳秀梅), director-general of the Food and Drug Administration; Wang Ying-wei (王英偉), director-general of the Health Promotion Administration; and Lee Po-chang (李伯璋), director-general of the National Health Insurance Administration, according to the Ministry of Health and Welfare.
Taiwan first attended the WHA meeting as an observer in 2009, a year after the government of former President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) came to power and pursued a more conciliatory policy toward Beijing.
Taiwan had taken part in every WHA meeting since then, until this year.
Its exclusion is widely seen as the latest move by China to clamp down on Taiwan's international participation, a strategy that has become more aggressive since President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) of the Democratic Progressive Party, who is less conciliatory toward China, came to power in May 2016.