Taiwan may use Chinese-Taipei title to apply to join WHO

whoTaipei - Taiwan Foreign Minister Francisco Ou said Monday the self-governing island would consider using the title Chinese- Taipei to apply to join the World Health Organization (WHO) in May next year.

"If we can deal with the issue in a flexible way, as long as we are able to enjoy the same rights, using Chinese-Taipei could be a feasible option," Ou said in a news conference in Taipei.

His comment came after Chinese President Hu Jintao said last week China could discuss with Taiwan ways to increase the island's international presence, with priority being placed on Taiwan's bid to join the WHO.

Taiwan has succeeded in using the Chinese-Taipei title to join the International Olympic Committee following a concession from Beijing, which claims Taiwan and rejects moves towards formal independence.

Ou said it depends on how Taipei and Beijing interpret the word Chinese, which can be those of Chinese origin or simply China.

The previous independence-leaning government, which was voted out in March, tried to join the WHO as Taiwan, a move rejected by the UN body in May under pressure from China.

Ou said the Taiwan public would have a year to discuss whether the title was feasible before the WHO meets again in Geneva in May 2009.

Opposition party spokeswoman Tsai Ing-wen said that "the Chinese- Taipei title was a compromised product of the 1990s: it can never reflect the sovereign independent status of Taiwan." (dpa)

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