The US House of Representatives on Tuesday unanimously passed a bill that would see Washington’s efforts to help Taipei regain observer status in the WHO included in an annual report by the US secretary of state.
Bill H.R. 353 was passed by a voice vote without objection, the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in Washington said.
The bill was introduced earlier this month by US Representative Ted Yoho, who serves as chairman of the Asia and Pacific Subcommittee under the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, and cosponsored by US representatives Eliot Engel, Michael McCaul, Steve Chabot and Brian Fitzpatrick.
A similar bill was last year passed by the US House of Representatives, but it did not make it onto the agenda of the US Senate before new legislators were sworn in on Jan. 3.
The version of the bill submitted by Yoho says that Taiwan did not receive an invitation to the World Health Assembly (WHA) in either 2017 or last year due to increased resistance from the People’s Republic of China, after having attended the annual assembly as an observer from 2009 to 2016.
“Taiwan remains a model contributor to world health, having provided financial and technical assistance to respond to numerous global health challenges,” the bill says.
Taiwan has since 1996 invested about US$6 billion in international medical and humanitarian aid efforts in more than 80 countries, it adds.
Although the US Congress has established a policy of support for Taiwan’s participation in international bodies that address shared transnational challenges, including the WHO, Interpol and the International Civil Aviation Organization, the bill says that “since 2016, Taiwan has not received an invitation to attend any of these events as an observer.”
The bill stipulates that an account of the changes and improvements made by the US in endorsing and attempting to obtain observer status for Taiwan at the WHA be included in an annual report by the US secretary of state, as is required by US Public Law 108-235, which was passed in 2004 to address Taiwan’s WHO participation.
In a news release yesterday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs welcomed the bill’s passage and expressed its gratitude to the US House of Representatives for its support.
“Taiwan has made concrete contributions to combating epidemics and safeguarding global public health, and we are of indispensable significance,” the ministry said, pledging to do its utmost to secure an invitation to this year’s WHA, which is to be held from May 20 to May 28 in Geneva, Switzerland.
The Presidential Office also welcomed the move, thanking the US and other like-minded nations for their continuous support and assistance as Taiwan faces nonstop Chinese oppression.
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