One of the top stories this past week was that the top US official in charge of Taiwan ties, James Moriarty, on Tuesday spoke up for Taiwan's participation in the upcoming World Health Assembly (WHA). That's the convening body of the World Health Organization, set to take place in Geneva from May 22-31.
Moriarty is the chair of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), the de facto US embassy in the absence of official diplomatic ties. He was speaking at the opening of a four-day conference in Taipei on dengue fever, Zika virus, and other communicable diseases. Vice President Chen Chien-jen was in attendance, along with the health minister, and representatives from Singapore, Indonesia and Australia.
The AIT chief said the United States supports Taiwan's meaningful and substantive contributions to the international community. He said the US welcomed Taiwan's participation as an observer during the last eight meetings of the World Health Assembly and looked forward to its continued participation.
Moriarty's expression of support for Taiwan's WHA participation was the first from a US official since President Donald Trump took office in January.
With the registration deadline looming for the WHA, Taiwan has yet to receive an invitation. It's thought that this, along with Taiwan's other recent setbacks in the international community, are due to China's opposition to the administration of President Tsai Ing-wen. China considers Taiwan part of its territory, although the two sides are governed separately.
Also this past week, several private groups have begun preparing to send delegations to Geneva in May as this year's World Health Assembly (WHA) gets underway. These groups include a number of doctors' organizations.
The groups plan to participate in events held on the sidelines of the WHA. They will also stage a protest in front of the United Nations' European headquarters and hold a press conference alongside officials.
The groups have been lobbying several representative offices in Taiwan to gain support for Taiwan's participation in the WHA.
And finally this past week, Taiwanese manufacturing tycoon Terry Gou was seen leaving the White House in Washington DC on Thursday afternoon. But the Foxconn boss refused to confirm whether he had met with US President Donald Trump. He told a Washington Post reporter in English, My memory is not good; maybe I already forgot.
White House officials also failed to respond to questions about the reported meeting.
Gou is the CEO of Hon Hai Precision Industry, better known internationally by its trading name, Foxconn. The company is the world's leading contract manufacturer of consumer electronics and counts Apple among its main clients. The company has factories in many countries but its largest operations are located in China.
While campaigning for president, Trump promised to bring manufacturing jobs back to the United States and slammed China in particular for taking American jobs. Perhaps significantly, Trump was scheduled to visit Harrisburg, Pennsylvania on Saturday. This is the city where Foxconn had proposed opening a factory four years ago, though the plan failed to come to fruition. The timing of the visit after the apparent meeting with Gou has prompted speculation about a possible revival of the plan.
Source: Radio Taiwan International