Taiwan is holding out bigger hopes of taking part in next month’s World Health Assembly (WHA), as international support for the self-ruled island grows amid a wave of anti-Beijing sentiment. Taiwan had observer status at the WHA – the governing body of the World Health Organization (WHO) – from 2009-2016, when relations were warmer with Beijing. It has been seeking to return in that role since 2017, but those efforts have been blocked by Beijing under its one-China policy that sees Taiwan as breakaway territory with no right to join international bodies. However, in the past year, calls have been growing for the WHO to reinstate Taiwan as WHA observer – a status it had under the presidency of Ma Ying-jeou of the Kuomintang, which adopted a policy of engaging Beijing. But things changed after President Tsai Ing-wen of the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party was elected to power. “The WHA will be held on May 22-28, and the foreign ministry has been working with the health ministry to strive for participation as an observer, and we have already made relevant preparations for the event,” Taiwan’s foreign ministry spokeswoman Joanne Ou said on Tuesday. “We will continue to closely coordinate with our allies and like-minded countries in order to gather the biggest international consensus and support to steadily and actively push for our cause.” Ou said the Covid-19 pandemic had made it highly necessary and urgent for Taiwan to take part in the WHO and this was the consensus among many countries. Taiwan has won international praise for its handling of coronavirus outbreaks and related aid efforts but is still excluded from the WHO’s global battle against the pandemic, prompting its foreign minister last year to criticise the UN body for its “continued indifference to the health rights of Taiwan’s 23.5 million people”. All 27 member states of the European Union and six Taipei allies either directly spoke or wrote to support Taiwan’s participation as a WHA observer during the WHO’s 150th executive board meeting in January, but in vain. During a virtual summit in February, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison highlighted the importance of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait and expressed support for Taiwan’s meaningful participation in international organisations, including the WHO. The following month, the Danish parliament voted to support Taiwan’s WHA observer status, according to the foreign ministry in Taipei. And earlier this month, US deputy secretary of state for management and resources Brian McKeon urged WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus to invite Taiwan to the upcoming WHA as an observer. Also, in an open letter to Ghebreyesus on April 19, the World Medical Association (WMA), a grouping of international physicians, called on the global health body to facilitate the meaningful participation of Taiwan at the WHA. Japan’s foreign ministry also stumped for Taiwan’s participation as a WHA observer in its 2022 Diplomatic Bluebook released on April 22, describing Taipei as a highly important partner and precious friend and urging a peaceful resolution of cross-strait issues with Beijing. This comes as Taiwan’s relative success in handling Covid-19 over the past two years brings renewed attention to the island’s absence from the WHA since Tsai was elected president. Taiwan’s relations with the mainland have deteriorated since Tsai took office in 2016 and refused to accept the one-China principle. Beijing has ramped up pressure by sending warplanes to Taiwan’s air defence identification zone almost daily and poaching its allies to try to isolate Taipei internationally. Negative views continue to dominate China’s global image, survey finds But with Beijing now facing increasing global suspicion, especially over its human rights record and more recently its support for Russia following its invasion of Ukraine, observers say Taiwan has a better chance of taking part in the WHO. “There has been a growing anti-Beijing sentiment in the US and its allies in Europe and the Indo-Pacific region. These countries are offering support for Taiwan and this will help boost Taiwan’s chances to join the WHO and other less politically sensitive UN groups like the International Civil Aviation Organization,” said Arthur Wang, secretary general of the Asia-Pacific Elite Interchange Association, a Taipei-based think tank.