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    UN Campaign

Congress of the United States

House of Representatives

Washington, DC 20515

September 1, 2000

Dear Friends:

            Taiwan has evolved into a healthy, prosperous nation governed by the rule of law.  The people of Taiwan have proved freedom and democracy are not just American ideals, they are universal principles that apply to every individual, to every community, and to every nation.

            Former President Lee Teng Hui's call on July 9, 1999 for "state-to-state" relations with the People's Republic of China will be forever etched in the minds of the Taiwanese people as the day its government finally decided to acknowledge the beliefs of its 23 million people.  If the United States believes so strongly in self determination and the freedom for all people, we must support Taiwan and immediately abandon our misguided "One China Policy."

            The U.S. State Department's 1994 Taiwan Policy Review clearly stated it would more actively support Taiwan's membership in international organizations, when the U.S. government determines "it is clearly appropriate."  But as the Clinton Administration is positioned to influence international policy, it refuses to take the lead and support Taiwanese participation.

            In August, I joined over 40 of my colleagues as original co-sponsors of H. Con. Res. 390, which calls on the Clinton Administration to "fulfill the commitment it made in the 1994 Taiwan Policy Review to more actively support Taiwan's membership in appropriate international organizations."  Taiwan and its 23,000,000 people deserve appropriate meaningful participation in the United Nations and other international organizations such as World Health Organization.

            Taiwan's growing regional and global significance demands a more active and thoughtful U.S. policy.  Our ties with Taiwan must encompass all aspects of Taiwan's security, trade relations, our support for the right of self-determination for the people of Taiwan, our defense policy, and our support for Taiwan's participation in international organizations.

            Children suffer from the effects of inadequate health care, whether they live in New York, London, Beijing, or Taipei.  With the high frequency of international travel, the risk of transmitting infectious diseases such as AIDS and tuberculosis is greater than ever.  Increased international trade leads to a greater potential for the cross-border spread of such deadly viruses.

            In 1998, Taiwan fell into the grip of a fatal outbreak of enterovirus 71.  The virus causes severe inflammation of muscles around the brain, spinal cord and heart.  Infants and children are most vulnerable to this highly contagious virus.  Unfortunately, the Taiwanese doctors treating this illness did not have access to the medical resources of the World Health Organization (WHO).  By the time this outbreak was under control, 70 Taiwanese children had died, most of whose deaths could have been prevented if access to the WHO were available.  The fact that Taiwan is severely crippled in its effort to save children is a tragedy.

            Infectious disease and sickness are not limited to political borders, and it is troubling that our government tacitly supports a policy that endures the Taiwanese people are denied access to the newest medical treatments and procedures.  The denial of WHO membership to Taiwan is an unjustifiable violation of its people's fundamental human rights.  Good health is a basic right for every citizen of the world, and Taiwan's admission to the WHO would foster that right for its people.  The Director General of the WHO, Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland, once stated: "Health has no borders.  Health is a human right."

            This year, I introduced H.R. 4004, which would require our State Department to initiate a plan to endorse and obtain observer status for Taiwan in the World Health Organization.  Nearly 30 of my colleagues joined me in cosponsoring this bill.  I have fought to get our State Department to support Taiwan's membership in the WHO for the last three years.  The imminent passage of this bill would be a huge victory for every Taiwanese citizen and every American who cares about human rights.

            Taiwan has much to offer the international community, and deserves access to important international resources provided by organizations such as the WHO.  It is my hope we can pass both bills before Congress adjourns.  This will send a strong message to the international community that 23 million people of Taiwan are ready, willing and able to participate fully in the family of nations.  Taiwan deserves and should ultimately have full U.N. membership.  This resolution is, nonetheless, a significant step forward.


                                                                                            SHERROD BROWN

                                                                                            Member of Congress 

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