The French Senate has passed a unanimous resolution calling for Taiwan’s inclusion in several international bodies including the World Health Organization (WHO) and its decision-making body the World Health Assembly, a move which would be fiercely opposed by Beijing.
The resolution follows calls from other Western countries for the island-nation’s participation in the international health body to help the global fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
The “Support Taiwan’s participation in the work of international organisations” resolution passed with 304 votes in favour, 19 abstentions and none against on Thursday in the upper house of the French legislature.
The resolution also calls for Taiwan’s “meaningful participation” in other international organisations, including the International Civil Aviation Organization, the International Criminal Police Organization Interpol and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
“We think it’s important that Taiwan can benefit the international community with its expertise in diverse matters such as public health, international police cooperation, the environment and civil aviation,” Senator Colette Mélot said during the session.
President Tsai Ing-wen thanked France for its show of support. “Grateful to the members of the French Senate for unanimously supporting Taiwan’s participation in international organisations,” she tweeted in French. “We look forward to working with France & our other partners to contribute to the welfare of people around the world.”
Taiwan, which has only seen 1,178 confirmed cases and 12 deaths since the coronavirus emerged over a year ago, has been internationally hailed for its successful handling of the pandemic.
The self-ruled democracy has however been denied participation in the WHO despite attempts by Tsai’s administration, which has campaigned for Taiwan’s inclusion in international bodies with the Twitter hashtag “#TaiwanCanHelp.”
The resolution follows similar calls from other nations in the past week. The G7 issued a joint statement calling for Taiwan’s “meaningful participation” in the UN’s health agency on Wednesday, citing its success in containing the pandemic.
The issue of Taiwan’s participation at the WHO has forced foreign governments into a difficult balancing act between protecting public health and maintaining stable diplomatic relations with Beijing. It claims ownership of the island and views Taiwanese attempts to assume an international role as an assault on its own sovereignty.
“To accept the exclusions pronounced by China is a cowardly renunciation by democracies. Taiwan is a part of the global community,” one of the resolution’s co-signatories Senator Bernard Jomier tweeted on Thursday.
The self-ruled democracy has been excluded from membership of most international organisations since Beijing replaced Taipei in China’s seat at the United Nations in 1971. It had held observer status at the WHO from 2009 to 2016.
Taiwan has been ruled separately from the mainland since the Nationalist government lost China’s civil war to the communists and fled to the island in 1949. Beijing sees it as a renegade province awaiting “reunification,” by force if necessary.