Back to Important Issues
 

Back to WHO

 
Back to WHO Past Campaign
    WHO Past Campaign

For immediate release.                                                                                                                                                                                  1/5/00


FAPA Blasts State Department Report

On Taiwan’s Participation in the WHO

The Clinton Administration’s kowtowing to China is evident throughout the State Department report to the Congress, “Taiwan Participation in the World Health Organization,” released yesterday.  Instead of the U.S. taking leadership on Taiwan’s meaningful and appropriate participation in the WHO, as called for in HR 1794, the report details the People’s Republic of China’s objections to such participation and the seeming paralysis this brings to any United States efforts.

“The People’s Republic of China has been actively and adamantly opposed to many of  Taiwan’s attempts at membership or participation [in international organizations],” the report says.  No kidding.  “U.S. representatives have raised and will continue to raise with Beijing our support for the people of Taiwan to contribute to as well as benefit from the work of the WHO.”  Good luck.   Why not try to get other countries lined up to support Taiwan?

On observer status for Taiwan, the report laments the fact that “there is not currently sufficient support within the membership to accomplish this.”  Is the U.S. trying to actively change this “fact,” or is it happy to abstain when voting time comes and let others go on record as dancing to Beijing’s tune?

Even the possibility of a Taiwan non-governmental organization having relations with the WHO is blocked, says the report.  Why? “The PRC would assert – and others would accept – that only it has the right to consent to the participation of a Taiwan non-governmental organization.”  Kafka must be rolling over in his grave at this sentence. This is the ultimate absurdity, paralleling the demand by Beijing that any earthquake aid to Taiwan from international organizations during Taiwan’s monster September disaster had to get its permission.

“This report makes the US look like a child unable to speak up to the PRC adult,” stated Chen Wen-yen, FAPA President.  “It reminds me of the Taiwanese saying, ‘Children have ears but no mouth’- they should only listen to adults and not speak out. Congress and the Taiwanese-American community throughout the country demand that the Administration take a pro-active position, not roll over and play dead because of what the PRC thinks. Taiwan is not, and has never been, under PRC control. The 22 million people of democratic Taiwan deserve to participate in the WHO and all international organizations.”

For more information, contact Michael Fonte or Echo Lin at 202-547-3686

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

REPORT
Report Required by Public Law 106-137
Fiscal Year 2000

TAIWAN PARTICIPATION IN THE WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION (WHO)

Introduction

Public Law 106-137 requires the Secretary of State to submit a report to Congress an Administration efforts to support Taiwan's participation in international organizations, in particular the World Health Organization (WHO). Separately, section 704 of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act for Fiscal Years 2000 and 2001 requires the Secretary of State to submit a report on U.S. Government efforts related to Taiwan's participation in international
organizations generally. The following Report focuses on efforts specifically with regard to the WHO. A second report (both classified and unclassified versions) that addresses international organizations besides the WHO will be submitted by the Secretary pursuant to the requirement of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act for Fiscal Years 2000 and 2001 and P.L.106-137.

U.S. Policy Framework

The framework of our policy reflects positions taken by the U.S. government over the last three decades. The legal basis for our unofficial relations with Taiwan is provided by the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979, 22 V.S.C. 3301 et seq. (TRA). "Through the TRA, the people of the United States maintain cultural, commercial, and other unofficial relations with the people on
Taiwan.”

Since 1979, the United States has recognized the Government of the People's Republic of China as the sole legal government of China. The U.S. has also acknowledged the Chinese position that there is but one China and Taiwan is part of China. The Reagan Administration, in 1982, clarified that the U.S. has no intention of pursuing a policy of "two Chinas" or "one China, one
Taiwan." These elements of our policy are set out in the three U.S.-PRC joint communiqués of 1972, 1979, and 1982.

Consistent with this longstanding policy, the U.S. government has not supported and does not support Taiwan's membership in organizations, such as the United Nations or WHO, where statehood is a requirement for membership. The Administration actively supports Taiwan's membership in international organizations that do not require statehood for membership, such as APEC and the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Taiwan Policy Review

In 1994, the Administration conducted a review of Taiwan policy -- the first by any Administration. That review confirmed the policy on international organizations as outlined above. Then Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Winston Lord, in addition to confirming these elements of our policy, also announced that the Administration would "support opportunities for Taiwan's voice to be heard in organizations where its membership is not possible.”

However, movement on this front since 1994 has not been as rapid as the Administration had hoped. The People's Republic of China has been actively and adamantly opposed to many of Taiwan's attempts at membership or participation. In addition, decision-making in most international organizations is generally based on consensus and international support for
Taiwan's participation in international organizations has been extremely limited. (Only 28 countries have diplomatic relations with Taiwan.)  Finally, there are relatively few international organizations whose charters do not include statehood as a prerequisite for membership.

World Health Organization

As noted above, the Administration does not support Taiwan's becoming a member of the WHO,  given that Article 3 of the WHO's Constitution explicitly requires statehood for membership. Changing the Constitution of the WHO to allow Taiwan membership would require a two-third vote of the World Health Assembly as well as ratification of the amendment of the Constitution by two-thirds of the state members. This is not a feasible course.

That said, the Administration does believe that the people on Taiwan should be able to contribute to as well as benefit from the work of the WHO, and it seeks appropriate ways for Taiwan's voice to be heard. The Administration supports any modalities or arrangements acceptable to the membership of the WHO to allow for Taiwan to participate in the work of the organization. The Administration has taken several steps regarding possibilities for Taiwan to
participate in the work of the WHO:

* Through the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), the Administration has consulted frequently with the Taiwan authorities on modalities for participation in international organizations, including the WHO.

* We have suggested that Taiwan's non-governmental organizations and medical community explore participating in WHO activities through international non-governmental organizations, such as the World Medical Association, which have relations with the WHO.

* We have raised with the WHO Secretariat our interest in finding appropriate ways for Taiwan to benefit from as well as contribute to the work of the WHO.

* Specifically, we have proposed to the PRC, Taiwan and the WHO secretariat that Taiwan health experts and physicians be invited to attend WHO expert meetings and conferences in their professional capacity.

Question of Observer Status

Since 1996 the Taiwan authorities have pursued the possibility of obtaining observer status at the annual World Health Assembly. The Constitution and rules of procedure of the WHO do not explicitly establish a form of observer status at the annual World Health Assembly (WHA) for which Taiwan would be eligible.

Historically, observers have sometimes been authorized at the WHA meetings. In the early 1950s, when the WHA was held in Rome, the WHO's Director-General invited the Vatican and the Order Of Malta to attend the WHA as observers. Since then, representatives of both have continued to attend meetings as observers. In more recent years, however, observer status has been authorized by affirmative decisions of the World Health Assembly, not by of the Director-General. Thus, in 1974, the World Health Assembly passed a resolution granting "liberation movements" observer status at the annual World Health Assembly; this had the affect, inter alia, of including the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO).

Under the WHA’s Rules of Procedure, a majority of the Members present and voting would have to vote for a resolution conferring observer status on Taiwan. There is currently not sufficient support within the membership to accomplish this. The overwhelmingly negative vote in 1997 on whether the issue of granting observer status to Taiwan should be included on the WHA agenda clearly indicates that there is little support for such a resolution.

Another option that has been raised is the possibility of a Taiwan non-governmental organization having relations with the WHO. Taiwan in some other organizations has successfully pursued this course. However, the WHO Constitution stipulates that "national organizations" as opposed to Non-governmental international organizations may only apply "with the consent of the Government concerned." The PRC would assert -- and others would accept -- that only it has the right to consent to the participation of a Taiwan non-governmental organization.

Future Steps

We will continue to look for practical ways for Taiwan's voice to be heard in the WHO. In the future, we hope that improved relations across the Strait that might grow out of enhanced cross-Strait dialogue can lead to creative solutions to the issue of greater access for Taiwan to international organizations. The administration views successful Taiwan participation in the Olympics, the Asian Development Bank, and APEC as clear examples of the contributions that Taiwan can make, and should be able to make, in international settings. These contributions are possible because Beijing and Taipei created a climate in which they found formulas to resolve
participation issues.

U.S. representatives have raised and will continue to raise with Beijing our support for the people on Taiwan to contribute to as well as benefit from the work of the WHO. Within the context of our policy, we have urged Beijing to find ways for the people on Taiwan to participate in as well as benefit from the work of the WHO in particular and international organizations in general.

Bilateral Cooperation

At the same time that we explore concrete opportunities for Taiwan to participate in the work of the WHO, we will also continue our active program of bilateral cooperation on public health and preventive medicine, including activities in the fields of epidemiology training, TB, polio, arboviruses, and emerging infectious disease, among others.  This bilateral cooperation helps ensure that Taiwan has access to current information on public health and medical developments though it is not a member of the WHO.

Through the American Institute in Taiwan, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has ongoing cooperation with Taiwan authorities in responding to public health emergencies, such as the 1997 enterovirus outbreak in Taiwan, when a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) team was quickly dispatched to respond to the epidemic at the request of Taiwan. The team remained in Taiwan for approximately six weeks working with Taiwan public health authorities and assisting Taiwan authorities in responding to the health crisis. CDC has continued to work on analysis of the data in coordination with Taiwan health authorities.  Most recently, a CDC epidemiologist also traveled to Taiwan shortly after the September 21, 1999 earthquake to assist the Taiwan Department of Health, in evaluating risk of an epidemic.

 
Any questions? Please email: home@fapa.org