TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The U.S. House of Representatives introduced a bipartisan bill Friday proposing to restore Taiwan’s status as an “observer” at the World Health Organization and at its most important annual meeting, the World Health Assembly.
Taiwan was left out from the WHA early in May for the first time since 2009 due to China’s insistence that there must not be any Taiwanese delegation at the meeting.
“China’s short sighted attempts to restrict Taiwan’s contributions to global health endanger us all, as diseases know no borders,” said US Congressman Ted Yoho in a press release issued on July 21.
“China’s mission to degrade and deny Taiwan’s involvement in this organization makes the world a more dangerous place by denying the rights of over 23 million people to participate in life-saving initiatives and the ability of Taiwan and the international community to deal with outbreaks early,” echoed Congressman Brad Sherman, who co-sponsored the bill.
Yoho said that the bill, coded as H.R. 3320, aimed at improving U.S. efforts to ensure Taiwan’s participation in the WHO and WHA.
The bill will allow Congress to push for the State Department’s report on Taiwan’s participation in the WHO, and require the Secretary of State to improve its strategy to help Taiwan obtain observer status at the WHA, according to the press release.
“With an ever growing and increasingly connected global population, it is important that we not let geopolitics get in the way of public health,” added Yoho.
China has constantly hindered Taiwan from joining international organizations, as it considers the island part of its territory. The efforts to prevent Taiwan from remaining in the international community have grown even more relentless since independence-leaning President Tsai Ing-wen declined to endorse Beijing’s one-China policy.
As a result, Taiwan was not invited to the 2017 WHA, despite 15 countries having been reported to have voiced their support for the island.
"The wrongful decision this year by the World Health Assembly to exclude Taiwan should not be allowed to happen again,” said Congressman Ed Royce.
The bill was supported by both Republican and Democratic congressmen, including Republicans Ted Yoho, Ed Royce, Steve Chabot, and Democrats Eliot Engel, Brad Sherman, and Gerry Connolly.