TAIPEI, Taiwan, May 18 (UPI) -- Taiwan's long exclusion from United Nations agencies ended Monday when it attended the World Health Assembly annual meeting in Switzerland as an observer.
"I feel really good, really terrific," Taiwan's Central News Agency quoted Health Minister Yeh Ching-chuan as saying after he represented his country at the meeting.
"Thirty-eight years are a long wait and I feel honored to be able to represent Taiwan in the World Health Assembly," Yeh was quoted as saying.
The Taipei Times reported Tuesday a survey showed respondents were mostly satisfied with the observer status but that a majority was unsatisfied that Taiwan took its place at the WHA as "Chinese Taipei." Some said they preferred the title "Taiwan" while others supported "Republic of China."
China has always claimed Taiwan as part of its territory. However, relations between the two have improved significantly since Ma Ying-jeou became Taiwan's president last May.
Taiwan lost its U.N. membership in 1971 and the Central News Agency said the current Geneva meeting is the first since then when Taiwan has been able to participate in an event organized by a U.N.-affiliated agency.
The observer status is credited to the growing ties between China and Taiwan.
Reporting the latest development, China Daily said the observer status came after 12 filed attempts. It said after Ma's election, Taiwan started to revise policies to ease tensions across the Taiwan Straits.