Members and observer states of the World Health Organization (WHO) met virtually for the 73rd World Health Assembly on Monday, with WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus saying in his opening remarks that the world needed to work together to end the coronavirus pandemic.
But one of the governments with the best track record on containing Covid-19 wasn't in attendance at the meeting. They weren't even allowed to observe.
Taiwan, a self-governed island of 24 million people, has only recorded 578 infections and seven deaths from the novel coronavirus, despite its close proximity to the center of the initial outbreak in mainland China.
Only countries which are members of the United Nations can become members of the WHO, and Taiwan has not been represented at the UN since 1971.
Beijing still claims Taiwan as part of its territory and has repeatedly put pressure on international institutions for decades, including the WHO, to not give the island a country-level status. This is despite Taiwan being separately governed from the mainland since 1949.
Taiwan has been fiercely campaigning to be allowed into the WHO or at the very least to be given observer status. On Twitter, the Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been pushing the hashtag #TaiwanCanHelp.
But despite its best attempts, Taiwan was excluded when the WHO leaders met on Monday.
"The Foreign Ministry expresses strong regret and dissatisfaction at China’s obstruction of Taiwan participating in the WHO and the WHO’s continuing to neglect the health and human rights of Taiwan’s 23.5 million people,” Taipei said in a statement, according to Reuters.