May 12, 2020

Senate Unanimously Approves Menendez, Inhofe Legislation to Work Towards Taiwan’s Inclusion in WHO

WASHINGTONSenator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), co-chairs of the Senate Taiwan Caucus, issued the following statement after the Senate unanimously passed S. 249, their legislation calling for the Secretary of State to develop a strategy for Taiwan to regain observer status in the World Health Organization.

“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,” Menendez said. “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.”

“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 doctorsrebuffed 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. 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.”

Menendez and Inhofe’s legislation has 21 bipartisan cosponsors. Many also praised the passage:

“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,” Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said. “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.”

“For years, Taiwan participated at the World Health Assembly in observer status helping to promote a fundamental human right – access to medical care,” said Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio). “Now more than ever, excluding Taiwan – a state that has 6 recorded coronavirus-related deaths out of a population of roughly 24 million – limits meaningful exchanges on infectious diseases like the coronavirus that disregard international borders and have a global impact.”

“I’m pleased the Senate has passed this legislation in an effort to allow Taiwan to reassume its observer status at the World Health Organization,” Senator Ed Markey (D-Mass.) said. “Taiwan has showed amazing leadership in the fight against the coronavirus, and must be part of future international health efforts. The United States must send the message that China’s efforts to exclude Taiwan from meaningful participation in international organizations must not stand.”

“Taiwan is a stable, democratic U.S. partner in the Asia-Pacific and I’m grateful the Senate unanimously passed legislation to advocate for them to regain its observer status with the World Health Organization,” said Senator James Lankford (R-Okla.). “U.S. leadership is needed in order to increase international support for this effort, which is why the Administration should advocate for this reinstatement and develop a coherent strategy to ensure our allies do the same. Taiwan is a net contributor to health and humanitarian efforts worldwide, and reinstating their rightful observer status will allow them to promote global health internationally at places like the World Health Assembly.  I’m hopeful the Secretary of State will act quickly in the days ahead to develop a strategy for this reinstatement.”

“Taiwan’s participation in the World Health Organization is more important than ever. As we develop vaccines and a cure for the coronavirus, Taiwan needs to be part of the conversation and discussions of research and prevention. Public health extends beyond borders. I’m pleased the Senate supports reinstating the role of our ally on this international organization,” Senator John Boozman (R-Ark.) said.

“As West Virginia celebrates its 40th anniversary of Sisterhood with Taiwan this year, we must reaffirm Taiwan’s desire for participation in various organizations like the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Health Assembly (WHA). The United States must advocate for Taiwan to regain observer status because global health crises require everyone working together to solve our collective issues. As a leader in medicine, Taiwan is equipped to make meaningful contributions to the WHO as we work together to combat the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.).

“With each passing day, we learn more about China’s failure to alert the world to the seriousness of COVID-19. Meanwhile, Taiwan has been a reliable partner in the global fight against the pandemic. I’m pleased the Senate passed our legislation to allow Taiwan to regain its observer status with the World Health Organization,” said Senator Mike Rounds (R-S.D.).

“A global pandemic requires a global response – which is why Taiwan should be readmitted to the World Health Organization as soon as possible. There’s no reason to reject capable international partners at a time like this, no matter what Beijing claims,” said Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).

“We know that Communist China and the WHO refused to cooperate with Taiwan throughout the coronavirus pandemic,” Senator Rick Scott (R-Fla.) said. “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.”

“In order to defeat the coronavirus, we must enhance cooperation with every global partner committed to transparency and best practices. Granting Taiwan observer status at the World Health Organization would allow Taiwan to fully share its expertise in handling COVID-19 and rightfully reflect its global healthcare contributions that have been unjustly curtailed by Chinese objections,” said Senator Cory Gardner (R-Colo.). “Through this bipartisan legislation and my TAIPEI Act, which was recently signed into law, the United States Senate is demonstrating loud and clear that we stand with the people of Taiwan.”

“Taiwan has been a global leader in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. Its exclusion from the World Health Organization is not only an injustice to its people, but to all other nations who would benefit from Taiwan’s vital public health experience and expertise,” said Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.). “This is a strong step toward ensuring Taiwan has a seat at the table, and I applaud its passage.”

“The World Health Organization ignored Taiwan’s timely warning that the virus emerging in mainland China was capable of human-to-human transmission while WHO leaders were parroting Chinese propaganda to the contrary,” Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said.  “Meanwhile, Taiwan has had one of the lowest infection rates per capita. Clearly Taiwan has a lot to offer the world and should be at the table.”

“Today’s action by the Senate underscores the importance of Taiwan in promoting global health as an observer to the World Health Organization,” said Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.). “Taiwan’s doctors were among the first to warn of human-to-human transmission of COVID-19, and it has successfully controlled the outbreak within its borders. The world can learn from Taiwan, but it has to be allowed a voice. I’m pleased to support making Taiwan’s return to the World Health Organization a priority for the U.S. government.” 


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