China is expected to be questioned on two of its most important issues at the first meeting of the governing body of the World Health Organization since Covid-19 invaded the globe: the initial treatment of the virus by the Communist Party and the status of Taiwan’s involvement.
While the US has unleashed a regular torrent of attacks on China, including claiming the virus escaped from a laboratory in Wuhan’s central region, the European Union and Australia are expected to play a key role in pressing for a investigation into the sources of the virus when the decision-making body of the WHO’s World Health Assembly gathers in Geneva on Monday for an annual meeting. A US-backed bloc is also calling for Taiwan to join the meeting as an observer, whose treatment of the virus has been a remarkable success story. The move to improve official and unofficial diplomatic ties between Taiwan has angered China, which views the island as a province and has long tried to isolate it on the world stage.
The WHO has said that its Ethiopian director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has no authority to invite Taiwan to the assembly because member states have “no strong support.” In April, Tedros had accused Taiwan of being behind a racist campaign against him and against Africans in general, an allegation that Taipei dismissed as “slander.” A 13-member-state initiative has called for the assembly to decide on whether Taiwan should participate. After the independence-leaning Tsai was elected in 2016 , China has blocked Taiwan’s participation in the organisation, refusing to agree that all sides belong to “one China.”