A group of eight US senators has written to President George W. Bush urging his administration to support membership for Taiwan in the WHO.
The letter, dated July 11, was cosigned by Sherrod Brown, Trent Lott, Charles Schumer, Joseph Lieberman, Tim Johnson, Tom Coburn, Johnny Isakson and Jon Tester.
Brown was a cofounder and cochair of the Congressional Taiwan Caucus when he was a member of the House of Representatives. Lott and Johnson are cochairs of the Senate Taiwan Caucus.
Stressing that full WHO membership for Taiwan is "in America's best interests," the senators called on the Bush administration to seek to build a "coalition of like-minded nations," especially member states of the EU, in support of Taiwan's bid.
On the memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed two years ago between China and the WHO regarding Taiwan's participation in the organization, the senators asked the Bush administration to make it clear that it would not accept any China-WHO MOU that means excluding Taiwanese medical experts from WHO activities.
The senators also said "it is essential that there will be no overt or covert MOU" between the WHO and China regarding the implementation of the International Health Regulations (IHR).
Beijing has claimed that the IHR applies to the "entire territory" of China, including Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.
Taiwanese officials have said that since China secretly signed an MOU with the WHO in 2005, it has become even more difficult for medical professionals from Taiwan to take part in the WHO's technical conferences.