It votes against Western-led resolution, says health issues should not be politicized
China voted against a resolution with reference to Russian "aggression" against Ukraine, as the country has always opposed politicization of health issues, said a Chinese delegate on Wednesday at a meeting of the 76th World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland.
The WHA is the decision-making body of the World Health Organization.
The resolution, which was proposed by 43 countries, mostly Western nations, claims that the Russia-Ukraine conflict has caused a "continued health emergency" in and "wider regional and humanitarian impacts" on Ukraine as civilians have died, refugees are fleeing, and risks of radiological, biological and chemical incidents have appeared.
The motion passed with 80 votes in favor, nine against and 52 abstentions, with 36 WHO member states absent.
"Health issues are technical issues in the professional field, and the Ukraine crisis concerns international peace and security. The WHO is not an appropriate venue to discuss this issue," the delegate from China told the committee of the assembly.
"China has always opposed the politicization of health issues. We hope that the WHO will continue to focus on its main responsibilities and avoid introducing controversial issues and political expressions that will affect the process of the WHA," he added.
The delegate also mentioned a paper released in February that stated China's position on the Russia-Ukraine conflict. The paper put forward 12 key solutions, including ceasing hostilities, resuming peace talks, resolving the humanitarian crisis, protecting civilians and prisoners of war, and keeping nuclear power plants safe.
"This is another manifestation of China's commitment to promoting peace and negotiations, fully demonstrating China's firm stand on the side of peace," he said.
Belarus also opposed the motion, and the country's delegate expressed concern that the Western-led initiative would cause further escalation of the conflict.
"The Western countries are increasing the supply of weapons to the country, weapons which create such a huge problem for the health of the population. Are they really hoping to solve the health crisis in Ukraine? I think that the answer is quite clear," the delegate said.
The representative of Brazil, which is one of the 52 countries that abstained from voting, said that singling out the Ukraine situation without referring to other similar and serious crises is not appropriate, and the WHO is not a suitable place for discussing such a conflict.
"We would like to recall the limits of the mandate of the WHO in accordance with its Constitution. Topics such as peace and security, international humanitarian law, human rights and international law have their own spaces for debate," he said.