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Representatives Introduce Legislation Mandating State Department Pursuit Of Taiwan’s Observer Status in World Health Assembly

Seven Members of Congress, introduced legislation today that mandates State Department pursuit of observer status for Taiwan at the May annual summit of the World Health Organization in Geneva.

“The Secretary of State shall initiate a United States plan to endorse and obtain observer status for Taiwan at the annual week-long summit of the World Health Assembly in May 2000 in Geneva, Switzerland, and shall instruct the United States delegation to Geneva to implement such plan,” states the bill introduced by  Reps. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Steve Chabot (R-OH), Tom Lantos (D-CA), Pete Stark (D-CA), Phil English (R-PA), Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Bob Wexler (D-FL) and John Larson (D-CT).

Congressional frustration with the State Department’s unwillingness to implement the 1994 Taiwan Policy Review and with State’s January 4th  report which  was supposed to list the Administration’s efforts to support Taiwan’s participation in international organizations, in particular the WHO, motivated the bill.

The bill therefore reads: “(8) The United States, in the 1994 Taiwan Policy Review, declared its intention to support Taiwan’s participation in appropriate international organizations. (9) Public Law 106–137 required the Secretary of State to submit a report to Congress on administration efforts to support Taiwan’s participation in international organizations, in particular the WHO. (10) On January 4, 2000, the State Department issued its report to the Congress, ‘‘Taiwan Participation in the World Health Organization,’’ which notes that ‘‘historically, observers have sometimes been authorized at the World Health Assembly meetings’’ but refuses to follow the spirit of the 1994 Taiwan Policy Review and endorse Taiwanese participation in this manner.”

Earlier, several Representatives, frustrated with the State Department’s report, wrote to Secretary Albright in early January that the State Department report was too weak. They wrote, “Taiwan is denied participation in the WHO because of the People’s Republic of China’s assertion its neighbor is not a nation and should be denied access to the latest medical protocols.... The fact of the matter is that participation for Taiwan in the WHO poses no threat to Beijing’s security but would enhance the quality of life for its 1.2 billion inhabitants.”

“The bill is another step towards ultimate WHO membership for Taiwan,” states FAPA President Wen-yen Chen. “Congress has come to the point where it is seeking a pro-active position by the Administration. It is just a matter of time for Taiwan to become a full-fledged member of the WHO. This is s small step for the WHO but a major step for Taiwan!”

For more information, contact Coen Blaauw or Michael Fonte at FAPA at 202-547-3686.

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