Taiwan barred from U.N.-affiliated meeting on rare diseases

A Taiwan non-governmental organization dedicated to the treatment of rare diseases said Saturday it was barred from a U.N.-affiliated meeting in New York on rarely seen disorders the previous day due to opposition from China.

The Taiwan Foundation for Rare Disorders said its chairman Tseng Min-chieh (???) was unable to give a keynote speech at the Global Gathering for Rare Diseases and explain how Taiwan can contribute to the United Nations' 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

China appealed to the committee to protest against Taiwan's participation Friday morning (New York time) before Tseng was to deliver a speech, the foundation said.

Tseng was told by Robert Hejdenberg, president of the rare disorder center Agrenska Sweden before the event opened that he would not be able to enter the venue, according to the foundation.

The foundation said it was disappointed Taiwan could not be represented at the event, especially as they had prepared for it in a low-key manner to avoid China's intervention since receiving the committee's invitation in September.

On Saturday, Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Health and Welfare both protested against China's "obstructionist" behavior.

Still, the foundation said it will keep working to forge exchanges with international organizations to help patients suffering from rare diseases.

The foundation was co-founded by Tseng in 1999. It is aimed at promoting the rights and welfare of patients suffering from rare diseases.

Thanks to its efforts, a law on the prevention and control of rare diseases was enacted last year, and patients are covered by Taiwan's National Health Insurance system.

Beijing has taken a harder line against Taiwan because the new administration of Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen has not agreed to accept the idea that Taiwan and China belong to one China as the political foundation for cross-strait dialogue and exchanges.

In September, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) also refused to invite Taiwan for its meeting because of China's objections.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel