The U.S. said Taiwan deserves to be heard at a key World Health Organization event next month due to its contributions to global health, a call likely to anger officials in Beijing who have blocked the island's participation in recent years.
"Taiwan's outstanding control of COVID-19 and its donations of PPE demonstrate its strong contribution to global health," State Department spokesman Ned Price tweeted on Friday, referring to personal protective equipment. "Taiwan has some of the world's leading experts in combating this disease, and we need to hear from Taiwan at the World Health Assembly."
Beijing, which considers the island part of its territory, has blocked Taipei's participation in the WHO since Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen was elected in 2016 and refused to accept that both governments belong to "one China." The World Health Assembly, a gathering of WHO member states, is slated to take place on May 24.
While Taiwan has for decades been one of the most sensitive issues between Washington and Beijing, the issue returned to the fore under the Trump administration last year as the U.S. and China traded accusations over the COVID-19 outbreak. Taiwan's successful handling of the virus so far, alongside global concern about China's initial response to it, has fueled support for Taipei's participation in the assembly.