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U.S. and China clash at WHO over Taiwan participation

Tour agent Delfina Wang from Taiwan wears a surgical mask as a preventive measure in light of the coronavirus outbreak in China, as she waits for clients from China flying from Miami to land at Benito Juarez international airport in Mexico City, Mexico January 24, 2020. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso/Files

GENEVA (Reuters) - The United States urged the World Health Organization (WHO) on Thursday to “engage directly with Taiwan public health authorities” in the fight against coronavirus.

Taiwan is not a WHO member because of China’s objections. Beijing says the island is a wayward Chinese province and not a country and is adequately represented in the organisation by China.

“For the rapidly evolving coronavirus, it is a technical imperative that WHO present visible public health data on Taiwan as an affected area and engage directly with Taiwan public health authorities on actions,” Andrew Bremberg, U.S. ambassador to the U.N. in Geneva, told the WHO’s Executive Board.

China’s delegation took the floor to express its “strong dissatisfaction” that some countries had raised the issue of Taiwan’s participation during the technical meeting.

Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Toby Chopra