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    Taiwanese American Heritage Week

 Congress of the United States 

Committee on International Relations 

House of Representatives 

Washington DC 20515 May 7, 2003 

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

The recent outbreak in East Asia of severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) is a cause for great concern for all those with friends and relatives living in that region, including members of our Taiwanese American community. I wish to express to all of you both my personal concern and that of the Congress for health of our many friends in Taiwan, given the rapid spread of this deadly infection. Beijing's decision, publicly announced this past weekend, to approve a mission of the world Health Organization (WHO) to Taiwan to directly coordinate international efforts to fight SARS is a welcome first step. It remains, however, only a first step. 

The health crisis in East Asia, which has arisen as a result of this outbreak, emphasizes the urgent need for Taiwan to have formalized links with the WHO. Taiwan, although, in close proximity to the epicenter of the SARS outbreak in southern China, remains locked out of WHO participation due to narrow political motives. This shortsighted attitude imperils not only the health of Taiwan's 23 million people, but also denies full regional coordination on a continuing basis in fighting an epidemic which could potentially threaten us all. The still unfolding SARS crisis only underscores the need for WHO observer status for Taiwan. Following the recent legislation on this issue approved by the International Relations Committee and passed by the House of Representatives, it is my sincere wish that the U.S. government will take the lead in lobbying for this objective at the upcoming World Health Assembly in Geneva. Considering all that the Taiwanese people and Taiwanese Americans have accomplished in both the medical and other health fields, there can be no complete satisfaction until Taiwan's status and global contributions are fully 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. 

Sincerely, 

HENRY J. HYDE 

Chairman

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