This week, 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 World Health Organization (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.
“Since 2017, China has blocked Taiwan from participating in the World Health Organization,” Inhofe said. “That is unacceptable—and as we look at the global response to the coronavirus pandemic, China’s diplomatic bullying is even more egregious. While China failed to warn the public about the pandemic, silenced doctors, rebuffed efforts for an independent inquiry and hoarded medical supplies, Taiwan has been a strong partner in public health. Taiwan has donated countless medical supplies around the world, including the United States, and has been a leader in treatment, research and information sharing.
“Keeping them out of WHO, especially at the request of China, as the world grapples with a global pandemic cannot stand,” Inhofe continued. “I applaud Secretary Pompeo for the steps he’s already taken to ensure Taiwan can attend the WHO Summit on the coronavirus pandemic later this month, and look forward to his strategy that will restore Taiwan’s observer status.”
“As the world bears witness to the risks and costs of China’s decades-long efforts to block Taiwan’s participation in the World Health Organization, the United States must do more to reinforce our support for Taiwan’s standing in the international community,” said Menendez. “Securing Taiwan a seat at the WHO’s decision-making table is not only the right thing to do, it is an imperative as we should be learning from Taipei’s responsible and successful response to the coronavirus outbreak. I am delighted the Senate has unanimously approved this legislation instructing the Trump administration to demonstrate our commitment to the well-being of the people of Taiwan by implementing a coherent U.S. diplomatic strategy to support Taiwan’s rightful inclusion in international public health efforts.”
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.
The bill, which was championed by U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla., the top Republican on the U.S. House Asia and the Pacific Subcommittee, cleared the U.S. House at the start of last year. 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.”
Reach Kevin Derby at email@example.com.