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Support Taiwan's Full Membership in the World's Health Organization

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

* Mr. Speaker, as a Member of Congress and a friend of Taiwan, I rise today to urge my colleagues to join me in supporting Taiwan's full membership in the World Health Organization, WHO.

* Since 2009, China has permitted Taiwan to participate in the annual summit of the WHO in Geneva on a restricted basis. This year's meeting will be held from May 16th to the 24th. While I certainly welcome Taiwan's participation in this important international body, I am also concerned about the restrictions that China has placed upon Taiwan's involvement.

* First, Taiwan's role in the WHO has been restricted to that of ``observer status.'' This means that Taiwan does not have the ability to vote, speak, or participate in deliberations--they can only sit and listen. I believe that as a sovereign state, with a population of 23 million people, Taiwan deserves full representation in the United Nations and its affiliated organizations. As such, Taiwan should be recognized as a full voting member of the WHO.

* As we all know, infectious disease knows no borders. Taiwan was affected in 2003 by an outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and the 2009 outbreak of the H1N1 virus. These events demonstrate the important role Taiwan plays in global health and the Nation should be recognized as such.

* Second, Taiwan is participating again this year as ``Chinese-Taipei.'' I would prefer to see Taiwan recognized under its name ``Taiwan'' rather than as a subsidiary of China.

* Lastly, I have grave concern with China's veto power over Taiwan's role on the international stage. Chinese approval should not be a prerequisite for Taiwanese participation in United Nations organizations, or any other international organization. Taiwan should not have to rely upon the goodwill of China to voice beyond its borders. Allowing this to become the international norm will undermine its current status as an independent, sovereign state.

* To close, I believe the United States should amend its current policy of supporting ``meaningful participation.'' I therefore urge my colleagues to join me in supporting Taiwan's full and equal membership in the WHO as well as other international organizations.


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