China warns Taiwan of continued lockout from WHO assembly

Taiwan's Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (R) works with assistants on Sunday in Geneva. Taiwan said on May 16, 2017 it had been excluded from a major World Health Organizsation meeting, the World Health Assembly (WHA), for the first time in eight years and blamed rival China for the snub as relations worsen. (AFP / Fabrice Coffrini)
Updated 21 May 2017

China warns Taiwan of continued lockout from WHO assembly

GENEVA: China’s health minister has all but slammed the door on any more participation for Taiwan at the World Health Organization’s annual assembly until the island’s government accepts the “One China” principle.
Health Minister Li Bin blamed the party of Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, saying its refusal to accept the idea of a single China has torpedoed its ambitions to attend — leading to the first lockout of Taiwan as an observer state since 2008.
Li said that in the past, China had “agreed to let the Taiwan region attend” under a “special arrangement” based on acceptance of the principle. Speaking to reporters Sunday on the eve of the assembly’s opening, she said the refusal of Tsai’s Democratic Progressive Party to accept the principle “has destroyed the goodwill basis for the continuous attendance of the Taiwan region into the assembly.”
“In a nutshell, it is the Democratic Progressive Party itself which has set the barrier that has impeded the participation of the Taiwan region into the World Health Assembly,” she said. “Only when the political basis that reflects the ‘One-China’ principle has been confirmed can the regular exchanges across the strait be sustained.”
“And only then can the two sides of the Taiwan Strait resume their consultations regarding the possibility of Taiwan’s participation in the World Health Assembly,” Li added. She said Taiwan would still take part in “technical” aspects of WHO work, and pointed to cooperation between China and Taiwan on issues such as emergency rescue and reporting of communicable-disease epidemics.
Despite the lockout, weeks in the making, Taiwan’s health minister has arrived in Geneva, and about a dozen Taiwan allies are expected to push for Taiwan to be granted access to the assembly — a move all but certain to fail because of Beijing’s blockade.
Relations across the Taiwan Strait have soured considerably since Tsai took power a year ago after what appeared to be a hopeful start. Her health minister at the time shook hands with Li at last year’s assembly, expressing hopes for better cooperation with China on issues such as the fight against life-threatening viruses.
Weeks later, though, China cut contacts with Taiwan to protest Tsai’s refusal to accept the One China principle.
China has used its clout as one of five veto-wielding members of the UN Security Council to exclude Taiwan from the United Nations and other world bodies that require sovereign status for membership.
Taiwan and China split amid civil war in 1949 and China continues to regard Taiwan as part of its territory, one to be recovered by force if necessary. The Democratic Progressive Party advocates Taiwan’s formal independence as an island nation.
Taiwan is not a United Nations member state, and the UN has rejected its efforts to take part this year. UN officials have also said they would reject journalists who present Taiwanese identity papers as part of their accreditation requests to cover the 10-day assembly.


Coronavirus worst crisis since Second World War, UN boss says as deaths surge

Updated 01 April 2020

Coronavirus worst crisis since Second World War, UN boss says as deaths surge

  • Around half of the planet’s population is under some form of lockdown
  • Lockdowns remain at the forefront of official disease-stopping arsenals — a strategy increasingly borne-out by science

WASHINGTON: The global death toll from the coronavirus pandemic continued to worsen Wednesday despite unprecedented lockdowns, as the head of the United Nations sounded the alarm on what he said was humanity’s worst crisis since World War II.
The warning came as Donald Trump told Americans to brace for a “very painful” few weeks after the United States registered its deadliest 24 hours of the crisis.
Around half of the planet’s population is under some form of lockdown as governments struggle to halt the spread of a disease that has now infected more than 850,000 people.
Well over 40,000 are known to have died, half of them in Italy and Spain, but the death toll continues to rise with new records being logged daily in the US.
“This is going to be a very painful — a very, very painful — two weeks,” Trump said, describing the pandemic as “a plague.”
“I want every American to be prepared for the hard days that lie ahead.”
America’s outbreak has mushroomed rapidly. There are now around 190,000 known cases — a figure that has doubled in just five days.
On Tuesday, a record 865 people died, according to a tally kept by Johns Hopkins University, taking the national toll so far to more than 4,000.
Members of Trump’s coronavirus task force said the country should be ready for between 100,000 and 240,000 deaths in the coming months.
“As sobering a number as that is, we should be prepared for it,” Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert.
America’s under-pressure health system is being supplemented by field hospitals sprouting up all over New York, including a tented camp in Central Park, a hospital ship and converted convention centers.
But even with the extended capacity, doctors say they are still having to make painful choices.
“If you get a surge of patients coming in, and you only have a limited number of ventilators, you can’t necessarily ventilate patients,” Shamit Patel of the Beth Israel hospital said. “And then you have to start picking and choosing.”
The extraordinary economic and political upheaval spurred by the virus presents a real danger to the relative peace the world has seen over the last few decades, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Tuesday.
The “disease ... represents a threat to everybody in the world and... an economic impact that will bring a recession that probably has no parallel in the recent past.”
“The combination of the two facts and the risk that it contributes to enhanced instability, enhanced unrest, and enhanced conflict are things that make us believe that this is the most challenging crisis we have faced since the Second World War,” he said.
In virtual talks Tuesday, finance ministers and central bankers from the world’s 20 major economies pledged to address the debt burden of low-income countries and deliver aid to emerging markets.
Last week G20 leaders said they were injecting $5 trillion into the global economy to head off a feared deep recession.
In the European Union, however, battle lines have been drawn over the terms of a rescue plan.
Worst-hit Italy and Spain are leading a push for a shared debt instrument — dubbed “coronabonds.”
But talk of shared debt is a red line for Germany and other northern countries, threatening to divide the bloc.
Deaths shot up again across Europe. While there are hopeful signs that the spread of infections is slowing in hardest-hit Italy and Spain, which both reported more than 800 new deaths Tuesday.
France recorded a one-day record of 499 dead while Britain reported 381 coronavirus deaths, including that of a previously healthy 13-year-old.
That came after a 12-year-old Belgian girl succumbed to an illness that is serious chiefly for older, frailer people with pre-existing health conditions.
Lockdowns remain at the forefront of official disease-stopping arsenals — a strategy increasingly borne-out by science.
Researchers said China’s decision to shutter Wuhan, ground zero for the global COVID-19 pandemic, may have prevented three-quarters of a million new cases by delaying the spread of the virus.
“Our analysis suggests that without the Wuhan travel ban and the national emergency response there would have been more than 700,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases outside of Wuhan” by mid-February, said Oxford University’s Christopher Dye.