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Denmark MPs want to reinstate Taiwan in WHA over Covid-19 success

Denmark MPs want Taiwan to re-join World Health Assembly over successful handling of Covid-19

Throwing the gauntlet to China, parliamentarians in Denmark have proposed that Taiwan be included in the World Health Organisation (WHO). Members of six of the ten political parties support Taiwan's entry to WHO's top decision-making body.

Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten reported last week that despite Chinese opposition, the MPs have suggested that Denmark should lend support to countries like the US and the UK and allow Taiwan to re-join the World Health Assembly (WHA) as an observer. Many countries have appreciated the Taiwanese healthcare system for keeping the Covid-19 pandemic under control.

Till 2016, Taiwan was part of the WHA but was thrown out due to Chinese pressure. China has hardened its stance over Taiwan, which it says is part of the mainland and not an independent nation.

Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs says that the proposal was initiated by the Danish Blue-bloc coalition and Danish Social Liberal Party and is under review by the parliament's foreign affairs committee. However, the stumbling block to the parliamentary proposal is that Denmark does not as yet recognise Taiwan as an independent nation.

Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod told the media that the government supports an observer status for Taiwan at the WHA but it will continue to maintain a 'one-China policy,' which sees Taiwan as part of China.

Expectedly, the Chinese embassy in Copenhagen reacted strongly to the proposal. It wrote to Jyllands-Posten saying that the Danish parliament has no right to interfere in the matter. "The Embassy states that they strongly oppose any action by any power that is against the one-China principle and that interferes with China’s internal affairs," says the Danish newspaper.

Taiwan's representative office in Copenhagen too jumped into the fray. In a Facebook post, it said that six of the ten political parties represented in the Danish parliament are supporting Taiwan in its bid to re-enter the WHA.

The Danish civil society too seems supportive of the proposal. Michael Danielsen, chairman of NGO – Taiwan Corner, said that media reports have been positive towards Taiwan, which could benefit its bid internationally. He added that Denmark can have more practical bilateral exchanges with Taiwan on health and energy related matters.

China has been threatening Taiwan with war and keeps violating its territorial integrity by sending naval ships and warplanes. The island nation with 24 million people lies barely 160 kms across the Taiwan Strait which connects the South China Sea with the East China Sea.

Taipei has resisted Chinese expansionism with an overarching strategic tie-up with the US that covers defence, military and trade relations.