Taiwan: China must apologize for spreading SARS to the world

Drudge Report
THU May 22 2003 01:12:36 ET

Taipei (dpa) - Taiwan's Vice President Lu Hsiu-lien on Thursday demanded China apologize to the world for allowing the spread of SARS, while Taiwan parliamentarians called on international lawyers to sue for compensation.

``Thirty-three countries have fallen victim to SARS. The Chinese representative's speech at the World Health Assembly (WHA) on Monday (about China's effort to control SARS) was a lie and an insult to the whole world,'' Lu told a SARS seminar in Taipei.

``We should call on all SARS-hit countries to unite and demand an apology from China. China first neglected SARS and then covered it up, causing it to spread to the world,'' she said.

``China, in particular, owes an open and grave apology to Taiwan because China has blocked Taiwan's rejoining the World Health Organization (WHO) and ridiculed Taiwan,'' she said.

Taiwan lost its WHO seat to China in 1972, but launched a campaign to become a WHO observer in 1997.

At the opening session of WHA in Geneva on Monday, Chinese Vice Premier and Health Minister Wu Yi blasted Taiwan's WHO bid as ``unlawful, illogical and unreasonable''.

She said China was concerned about the well-being of Taiwan compatriots and had helped Taiwan control SARS, but Taiwan said it has received no help at all from China.

Also on Thursday, some Taiwan paliamentarians suggested lawyers in all SARS-affected countries sue China in local courts to demand compensation.

Lu Chih-ming, a lawmaker from the Taiwan Solidarity Union party, said he will spread the message to ``all justice-loving lawyers around the world'' so that they can volunteer their judicial service.

SARS broke out in Guangdong, China, on November 1 last year, but China covered it up until March, when a Guangdong man spread it to Hong Kong.

The epidemic has devastated economies in many countries, but the real damage cannot be calculated because SARS is still spreading.

According to WHO, by 4 p.m. (1800 GMT) Wednesday, there were 7,956 SARS cases and 666 deaths worldwide.