TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Nearly 40 U.S. lawmakers launched a bipartisan effort on Thursday (Feb. 18) to help Taiwan regain its observer status in the World Health Organization (WHO).
Led by representatives Young Kim and Brad Sherman, the lawmakers introduced a bipartisan bill that directs the secretary of state to implement strategies that will restore Taiwan's observer status in the WHO and the World Health Assembly (WHA). House Foreign Affairs Committee Lead Republican Michael McCaul and House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia Chairman Ami Bera were among the co-sponsors of the bill.
The bill states that Taiwan is a long-time leader in global health security and a strong ally of the U.S. It acknowledges the country's contributions to the global community as well as its investment of more than US$6 billion in international medical and humanitarian aid, in over 80 countries since 1996.
The bill mentions that Taiwan was one of the first countries to raise the alarm of the coronavirus outbreak and that it has donated tens of millions of medical supplies to nations worldwide.
Despite Taiwan's vital contributions, the Chinese government has continued to put pressure on the country and limit its access to vital information during the coronavirus pandemic, the bill says. It warns Taiwan's exclusion from the WHO creates a major blind spot in the global battle against the pandemic and poses risks to other countries.
Young Kim described Beijing's attempts to prohibit Taiwan from participating in the WHO as "shameful." She said the country deserves a seat in the international health body and that it will be able to receive up-to-date information on the coronavirus outbreak once its observer status is restored.
In response, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs thanked the U.S. lawmakers for their continual effort to promote Taiwan's participation in the WHO. It stressed that the country's anti-epidemic prevention efforts have been recognized by the global community and that the government will continue to push for a return to the WHA as an observer.
From 2009 to 2016, Taiwan was allowed to attend WHA meetings as an observer under the name "Chinese Taipei." However, the status was revoked shortly after President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) took office due to pressure from Beijing.