U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla., is about to bow out of Congress but he shows no sign of backing off his push to have Taiwan included as a member of the World Health Organization (WHO).
Yoho, the top Republican on the U.S. House Asia and the Pacific Subcommittee and the former chairman of it when the GOP controlled the chamber, renewed his call for Taiwan to be included in the WHO’s World Health Assembly (WHA).
“Taiwan has more than earned its place in the WHA with its contributions to global public health and work to save lives during the COVID-19 pandemic. The time to restore Taiwan’s observer status is now,” Yoho insisted.
The issue is not a new one for the North Florida Republican
At the start of 2018, the U.S. House passed a bill from Yoho to help Taiwan become a full member of the WHO. In 2017, for the first time in almost a decade, Taiwan was not invited to the WHA. Two congresswomen from South Florida who were then on the U.S. Foreign Affairs Committee–Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who retired in 2018, and Democrat Lois Frankel–cosponsored the bill.
Yoho has also thrown his support behind the Trump administration’s decision to resume arms sales with that nation, including a $1.4 billion package which includes torpedoes, missiles and radar systems.
In the summer of 2017, Yoho and other congressional leaders, including U.S. Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., then the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, visited several Asian nations including Taiwan.
Yoho has been one of Taiwan’s greatest champions on Capitol Hill in recent years and he has focused on that nation’s role with the WHO before.
At the start of February, Yoho penned a piece that ran in the Taipei Times on the matter.
“Since 1996, Taiwan has invested more than US $6 billion in international medical and humanitarian aid efforts in more than 80 countries. During the 2014 Ebola crisis, Taiwan donated US $1 million and provided 100,000 sets of personal protective equipment,” Yoho wrote. “Taiwan has proven its capability and determination on the global stage to contribute to disease prevention efforts time and again, and Taiwan deserves the opportunity to participate in the international health arena.
“Despite Taiwan’s contributions, China has steadily increased its marginalization of the nation through provocative military actions and pressuring their remaining diplomatic partners to exclude them from international organizations,” Yoho continued. “Although Taiwan participated in the WHO’s annual summit as an observer for years, the Taiwanese delegation has been blocked from attending since 2017, for seemingly no other reason than to placate the insecurities of Beijing.
“This pressure from China seems even more hypocritical given that it is at least partially responsible for the spread of the coronavirus across much of Asia, including Taiwan. Undoubtedly, this should be of concern to Americans as hundreds of people across the nation are currently being tested for coronavirus,” Yoho added. “Taiwan’s exclusion from the WHO puts the world at risk. That is why I have called for the re-establishment of Taiwan’s observer status on numerous occasions.”
First elected in 2012, Yoho is retiring this year, following through on a campaign promise to serve only four terms in the House.
Back in May, the U.S. Senate passed a proposal with strong support from the Florida delegation to have the U.S. State Department create a strategy to get Taiwan back in the WHO with observer status. The Senate passed without opposition U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe’s, R-Okla., bill to help Taiwan which had U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez, D-NJ, as the main cosponsor.
More than 20 senators, including the two from Florida, cosponsored the proposal.
“The United States must stand strong with Taiwan, a fellow democracy and important U.S. security and economic partner, especially in the face of the Chinese Communist Party’s ongoing efforts to isolate and intimidate Taiwan on the international stage,” said U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who sits on the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “Taiwan’s meaningful participation in the World Health Organization (WHO) is critical as the international community continues to address the coronavirus pandemic that originated in Wuhan, China. I thank my colleagues for supporting this important piece of legislation, and I look forward to working the administration to develop a strategy to ensure Taiwan’s meaningful participation in the WHO.”
“We know that Communist China and the WHO refused to cooperate with Taiwan throughout the coronavirus pandemic. The WHO is supposed to be about global health, yet they refused to heed warnings from Taiwan. That’s wrong. As Communist China continues to try to crack down on Taiwan’s freedoms, it’s more important than ever that the United States stand strong with our ally. I’m proud to co-sponsor this important legislation to support Taiwan’s efforts to participate in the WHO,” said U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla.
Reach Kevin Derby at email@example.com.