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    WHO 2001 - WHO Passed in IR Committee

House International Relations Committee Unanimously Passes Bill Requiring State Dept. Plan

For Taiwan's WHO Observer Status

March 28, 2001

The House International Relations Committee today unanimously passed legislation (HR428) mandating that the U.S. Secretary of State "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 2001 in Geneva, Switzerland," and "instruct the United States delegation to Geneva to implement such plan."

With a forceful bipartisan group of 93 co-sponsors, Rep. Sherrod Brown (D-OH)'s bill presses the Bush Administration to put some teeth into the effort to obtain meaningful participation by Taiwan in international organizations. Congressional frustration with the Clinton State Department’s unwillingness to implement the 1994 Taiwan Policy Review and with State’s January 4, 2000 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.

At the hearing, Congressman Brown stated, "Taiwan deserves observer status in the World Health Assembly. It is the first step for us to fulfill the commitment we made in the 1994 Taiwan Policy Review to support Taiwan’s participation in the international organizations, such as the UN and the WHO." Rep. Benjamin Gilman (R-NY) added, "Colin Powell has stated that there should be ways for Taiwan to participate without belonging to these international organizations. Many of our colleagues are disappointed that Taiwan is not a full member of the UN or other international organizations." Asian Subcommittee chair Jim Leach (R-IA) declared, "The greatest issue of world health might be disease control. What WHO symbolizes is people are concerned about the control of disease. This resolution is very symbolic. It’s a very modest resolution." Rep. Tom Lantos (D-CA) noted, "Today Taiwan is a prosperous democracy. This is a symbolic move but also a substantive move. We are thinking: WHO capability should be available for the people of Taiwan and we are thinking: Taiwan’s resources and technology that should be available for the rest of the world. I strongly recommend it."

Other Members that spoke out in support of the bill included Reps. Gregory Meeks (D-NY), Robert Wexler (D-FL) and Joseph Crowley (D-NY).

Thirty-one Senators signed a letter earlier this month which called on President Bush to "stand up and take the lead" on Taiwan's participation in the WHO as an observer during the next World Health Assembly in Geneva.

"This morning, the WHO bill jumped one hurdle on the way to President Bush's signature. It now needs to go to the floor of the House and to the floor of the Senate. Then the President has an opportunity to show his commitment to Taiwan by signing this bill when it reaches his desk," stated Chen Wen-yen, FAPA President. "We hope he will make it clear to the State Department that he stands squarely behind Taiwan on this issue."

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