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    Taiwanese American Heritage Week

House International Relations Committee Chairman Henry Hyde's Statement

May 7, 2002

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen of FAPA:

        I am pleased, as part of the third annual Asian Pacific Heritage Month, to congratulate Taiwanese Americans on the proclamation of Taiwanese American heritage Week (TAHW) which is being celebrated from May 11th-18th.  This third annual commemoration will recognize and honor the cultural, economic, artistic, scientific, and medical contributions made to the United States by Taiwanese Americans.  The celebration is also a vehicle to promote mutual understanding between Taiwanese American and those Americans of other ethnic groups, as well as to enhance mutual understanding and cohesion among different generations of Taiwanese Americans.

        This year the celebration is especially significant as other American look to the support of our long-standing Taiwanese American fellow citizens in the aftermath of the September 11th tragedy.  Taiwanese Americans have overwhelmingly responded to the relief effort.  This is yet another example of the Taiwanese community’s support for the preservation of the institutions of this democracy, as well as its values, and for the maintenance of the rule of law under the threat of international terrorism.

        As I noted in public remarks made last August while visiting Taipei, although Taiwan has established a democracy which can serve as a role model for political evolution in a Chinese cultural contact, challenges still remain ahead.  Clear recognition of Taiwan’s legitimate role in the world community through participation in international organizations is of paramount importance.  I was pleased to note that Taiwan immediately followed China in acceding to membership in the World Trade Organization (WTO) late last year.  Beijing sought Taiwan’s participation as a “separate customs territory” for its own commercial interest but has pursued a double standard in blocking Taiwan’s participation in other international organizations.

        The most recent example involves the World Health Organization (WHO), to which Taiwan has applied for observer status comparable to that granted to the International Rotary Club and the Knights of Malta, among others.  Membership in the WHO is crucial to the long-term health and viability of the people of Taiwan.  Since statehood is not an issue in applying for observer status, Beijing has no grounds for its continued obstruction of Taiwan’s membership.  With all that the Taiwanese people and Taiwanese Americans have accomplished in both the medical and other health fields, there can be not complete satisfaction until Taiwan’s status and global contributions are respected and appreciated by the international community.

        Your wholehearted support for the TAHW celebration as part of Asian Pacific heritage Month will help further the positive contributions of Taiwanese Americans as they continue to make great strides in bringing together the best of the East and the West.  Together, we can all make TAHW a valuable and enduring means of celebration for our ethnic Taiwanese citizens.

                                                                                                                    Very Truly Yours.

                                                                                                                     Henry Hyde



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