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    WHO 2001 - Press Release

Senators Call for Bush Leadership

On Taiwan's WHO Bid


Thirty-one Senators today called on President George W. 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.

"We believe that this is an area where a review of past policy deserves consideration," states the letter initiated by Senator Frank Murkowski (R-AK) and signed by a bipartisan group that includes Senators Trent Lott (R-MS), Tom Daschle (D-SD), Craig Thomas (R-WY), Jesse Helms (R-NC) and Joseph Biden (D-DE). Noting that the World Health Organization's primary objective is "the attainment by all peoples of the highest possible level of heath," the Senators state that, unless the Bush Administration changes past U.S. policy, "'all peoples,' at least as the WHO defines it, will continue to exclude the people of Taiwan."

"Only through the United States' leadership can we ensure that no people are left behind in the pursuit of the highest standards of health because of the political limitations of international organizations of which the United States is a party," the Senators conclude.

Secretary of State Colin Powell, in a 3/7/01 House hearing, stated that "there should be ways for Taiwan to enjoy the full benefits of participation [in the WHO] without being a member." Powell seemed to promise the policy review called for by the Senators when, in response to a question from Rep. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), he said, "I haven't done a policy review of this yet in this Administration."

Brown has introduced HR 428 in the House, a bill which mandates State Department pursuit of observer status for Taiwan at the May annual summit of the World Health Organization in Geneva. The bill currently has 59 co-sponsors and will be marked-up in the full House International Relations Committee on Wednesday, March 21st, at 10:00 am.

"The time is now for the Bush Administration to prove it will pursue a fresh policy toward democratic Taiwan," stated FAPA President Wen-yen Chen. "Taiwanese American communities across the nation have found their Members of Congress most receptive about support for Taiwan's observer status in the World Health Assembly. We worked hard to get some new names on this letter, like Senators Cleland, Durbin, Edwards, Feingold and Kohl. We see WHA observer status as a good first step toward giving Taiwan the international presence it so richly deserves. "

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