Taiwan said Wednesday it is to launch a fresh bid to join the World Health Organisation (WHO) as an observer after its previous attempt to seek full membership was shot down by Beijing last year.
"Our priority is obtaining the status of observer when the World Health Assembly meets in May," Taiwan's government spokesman Shieh Jhy-wey told reporters.
AdvertisementThe WHA is the highest decision-making body of the WHO, whose 192 member countries meet once a year to agree on policies and appoint a director-general.
Since 1997, Taipei's annual attempts to become an observer at the WHA have been thwarted by Beijing, which says Taiwan has no right to join the organisation -- as a member, quasi-member or an observer.
Beijing considers the self-ruled island part of its territory awaiting reunification.
Despite the setbacks, Taiwan's then-government of the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) last year applied for full membership rather than observer status. The bid was shot down again.
Taiwan was evicted from the WHO in 1972, a year after losing the "China" seat in the United Nations to Beijing.
Names and titles are highly symbolic issues in the row between Taiwan and China, which split after the end of a civil war in 1949.
Only 23 countries maintain diplomatic relations with Taipei.