Taipei, President Tsai Ing-wen on Wednesday thanked the European Union for its support for Taiwan's efforts to attend the World Health Assembly (WHA), the decision-making body of the World Health Organization (WHO).
"Although in the end we did not receive an invitation due to pressure from China, your move to speak up for the Taiwanese people's right to health is heartening and appreciated," Tsai said during the Europe Day Dinner.
The event was organized by the European Chamber of Commerce Taiwan (ECCT) and attended by over 700 business representatives.
Tsai expressed gratitude to Taiwan's like-minded partners, including the European Parliament-Taiwan Friendship Group, which promoted peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait and reiterated support for Taiwan's participation in international organizations in a statement in February co-signed by 155 members of the 751-seat European Parliament.
She also thanked the heads of Taiwan friendship groups in the European, French, German, and British Parliaments, which co-signed a letter to WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom calling for Taiwan's invitation to the WHA.
There are more European parliamentarian partners willing to speak up for Taiwan, including those from Italy, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, Tsai said.
Echoing Tsai, ECCT Chairman Giuseppe Izzo said that "we continue to strongly support Taiwan's meaningful participation in the WHO," welcoming Taiwan's efforts to contribute to world health.
Under pressure from Beijing, the WHO in 2017 stopped issuing an invitation for Taiwan to attend the WHA as an observer.
The Chinese government under Xi Jinping has demanded in effect that Taipei accept its one-China principle but the Tsai government refuses to comply.
In her remarks, Tsai said that it is also hoped that based on the shared values of democracy and human rights, for instance, Taiwan and the EU could have even stronger ties.
The bilateral trade volume between Taiwan and the EU exceeded US$57 billion in 2018, bringing average annual growth over the past three years to 7 percent, Tsai said.
EU investments in Taiwan also set a new record this year, reaching more than US$51 billion, marking a 51 percent jump over the past three years, according to the president.
In the future, she said, Taiwan remains committed to pursuing a bilateral investment agreement (BIA) with the EU, a goal that was upheld by Izzo as well.
"In an era when there are growing movements against globalization, we welcome Taiwan's commitment to remain open and to seek further international cooperation," he said, stressing that a BIA, which will address non-tariff barriers, would be good for economic growth and for creating jobs in both Europe and Taiwan.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel