Taiwan-friendly countries present a petition to the World Health Assembly in support of Taipei.

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U.N. member states with diplomatic links to Taiwan have expressed support for the island nation’s participation in the World Health Assembly.

Thirteen of the fifteen countries with which Taiwan maintains diplomatic ties said in a statement that Taiwan should be welcomed as an observer country to the annual assembly, according to Taiwan’s Central News Agency on Friday.

According to the paper, Guatemala, the Kingdom of Eswatani, and Tuvalu are among the countries petitioning on Taiwan’s behalf.

Countries that have diplomatic ties with Taiwan but not petitioning on behalf of Taipei were the Vatican and Paraguay.

The World Health Assembly of the World Health Organization is to convene its annual meeting Monday. The Assembly concludes June 11.

The US sent an official proposal for Taiwan’s inclusion in the WHA earlier this month. The G7’s top diplomats have issued a joint statement in favour of Taiwan’s participation.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization, has recused himself from making a final call. According to Ghebreyesus, it is up to WHO member states to determine if Taiwan can participate in the Assembly.

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According to Lo Ping-cheng, a spokesman for Taiwan’s executive branch, Taiwan has been “receiving support from many countries” in the face of an increase in COVID-19 incidents.

“They highlighted that China was preventing Taiwan from attending the WHA entirely for political reasons,” Lo said.

China said Friday Beijing could never allow for Taiwan’s participation.

“There is only one China in the world. The government of the People’s Republic of China is the only legitimate government representing all China,” foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said. “Taiwan is a part of China’s territory.”

Zhao also said “more than 150 countries support China’s decision” and that “more than 80 countries expressed opposition to Taiwan’s participation in the conference.”

Taiwan was invited to be an observer at the WHA under the name Chinese Taipei from 2008 to 2016. Tensions led to Taiwan being blocked from most WHO meetings after 2016.

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