U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), co-chairs of the U.S. Senate Taiwan Caucus, introduced S. 249 today, legislation calling for the Secretary of State to develop a strategy for Taiwan to regain observer status in the World Health Organization ahead of its annual global assembly later this year. They were joined by Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Edward Markey (D-Mass.), Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-La.), John Boozman (R-Ark.) and James Lankford (R-Okla.) as original cosponsors of the legislation.
“China continues to block Taiwan’s participation in the World Health Assembly through diplomatic bullying for the third consecutive year,” Inhofe said. “Actively working to include Taiwan in the World Health Assembly will go a long way in checking China’s efforts to enact their expansionist agenda through international organizations. Taiwan has long shown its commitment to world health and has earned a seat at the table in all international bodies, especially those where they have shown substantial positive leadership.”
“China’s efforts to isolate Taiwan – even when it comes to such issues as global health – cannot go unanswered,” Menendez said. “The United States must support Taiwan’s standing in the international community and stand by our friends in Taiwan. This legislation reaffirms our commitment to the well-being of the people of Taiwan and urges the administration to develop a more coherent US strategy to support Taiwan’s security through robust diplomacy.”
“The United States must stand strong with Taiwan, a fellow democracy and important security partner, in the face of China’s ongoing efforts to isolate and bully Taiwan, particularly in international fora,” Rubio said. “Taiwan’s meaningful participation in the World Health Organization is critical as the international community continues to address many of today’s pressing global health challenges. This important piece of legislation will direct the administration to develop a strategy for Taiwan to regain observer status at the World Health Organization after they were excluded in 2017.”
“For years, Taiwan participated at the World Health Assembly in observer status helping to promote the fundamental human right of access to medical care. Excluding Taiwan limits meaningful exchanges on infectious diseases that disregard international borders and have a global impact,” said Brown.
“Taiwan has long been an active and productive contributor in international organizations that do not require statehood,” Markey said. “Having worked closely with the international community on numerous initiatives, including the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, Taiwan absolutely should be able to participate in the World Health Organization.”
“Taiwan is a world leader in the field of medicine, and has also been tremendously generous over the years, sending doctors and resources to help other countries in crisis, including after Hurricane Katrina,” Dr. Cassidy said. “Taiwan deserves to regain observer status in the World Health Organization, and I urge the Trump Administration to fully support our good friend and ally’s reinstatement.”
“Global health challenges are just that – global. Taiwan’s contributions amid international public health crises, including responses to pandemics and assistance with various other health and safety issues, should not be stifled or obstructed. Diplomatic disputes must take a backseat to public health and Taiwan’s observer status designation would demonstrate just that,” Boozman said.
“This commonsense, bipartisan legislation recognizes Taiwan for what it is: a stable, democratic US partner in the Asia-Pacific and net contributor to health and humanitarian efforts worldwide,” said Lankford. “The US should advocate for Taiwan’s observer status internationally in order to promote global health at places like the World Health Assembly, and this bill is one positive step in that direction.”
Read the legislation here.