| U.S. Congress Urges WHO Chief on Taiwan's
Participation in the WHO
Excellency Lee Jong-wook
Dear Dr. Lee:
We wish to
extend to you and your staff greetings for continued health and good
fortune in the New Year. We are writing to convey to you the
critical importance that the Members of the Committee on
International Relations of the U.S. House of Representatives attach
to the health and welfare of the
million people of Taiwan. In this regard, we are all well aware
that Taiwan=s participation, through observer status, in the World
Health Organization (WHO) will again be a point for consideration at
the World Health Assembly to be convened this coming spring.
Matters dealingwith the provision of health to any community should
not be allowed to be politicized. Unfortunately, in the case of
Taiwan and the World Health Organization, this has not previously
been the case.
Last year, in
a meeting at WHO Headquarters with a visiting staff member of the
International Relations Committee, Mr. Thomas Topping, your Legal
Counselor, made it clear that the question of participation in the
WHO, including those seeking observer status, is an issue that is
taken up by the WHO membership at the annual World Health Assembly.
Mr. Topping further noted that the office of the Director-General
considers this to be a political question beyond the scope of its
mandate and chooses NOT to intervene. This was a response which our
Committee Members, while somewhatdisappointed, could accept, given
the apolitical nature, as it was explained, of the Director-General
and your staff.
on the Committee on International Relations were deeply concerned to
read a news report carried last year by Xinhua, the Chinese wire
service. Xinhua reported that you, Mr. Director-General, during a
visit to Beijing on April 19, 2004, publicly stated, AChina is one
of our most important member states, and there is no room for Taiwan
to get into WHO as an observer or as a member. This statement would
appear, given the explanation provided to our staff member by Mr.
Topping, to be incompatible with the mandate bestowed on your office
by the Member States of the United Nations. Further, the statement,
if reported correctly, conveys a clear advocacy for the position of
one side regarding a membership issue which would contradict the
nonpartisan nature of your official position. We have grave concern
over the image of the World Health Organization which is conveyed as
forward to receiving an official response from your office in the
near future on the question of Taiwan’s observer status in the WHO,
a matter of great urgency to the Members of the International
Relations Committee, and the U.S. House of Representatives.