May 15 (UPI) -- Taiwan on Friday rejected an offer from the government in Beijing for support in joining the World Health Organization -- an offer that asked the island state to formally acknowledge that it's part of mainland China.
The announcement came after a push by Taiwan, a non-WHO member, to attend next week's World Health Assembly, which has drawn international support and rebukes from China as it claims sovereignty over the island.
Beijing pledged support for Taipei's campaign if it acknowledged that the island state is formally part of mainland China. Friday, Taiwanese health minister Chen Shih-chung refused.
"I have no way to accept something, which does not exist," Chen told reporters in Taipei.
A dispute has persisted for decades over Taiwan's formally referring to itself as the Republic of China. Most world governments, including the United States, adopt a "One China" policy that recognizes only the mainland nation as the official China and maintains informal relations with Taiwan.
The United States, Australia, New Zealand and others, however, have endorsed Taiwan's inclusion in the WHO.