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172 Members Push for Taiwan's Participation at World Health Assembly

May 16, 2018
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Today, 172 members of Congress, led by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) and Ranking Member Eliot Engel (D-NY), sent a letter to the Director General of the World Health Organization urging him to allow Taiwan to participate in this year’s World Health Assembly.

In the letter, the members write: “Last year, the WHO – under pressure from the People’s Republic of China – withheld its invitation for Taiwan to participate in the 70th WHA. …Global health and safety should not be held hostage to China’s political objectives. We are all safer when Taiwan has meaningful and unobstructed participation in international health cooperation fora.”

Full text of the letter is available below or here:

May 16, 2018

His Excellency Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus
Director General
c/o Regional Office for the Americas
World Health Organization
525 23rd Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20037

Dear Mr. Director General:

We write to you in your first year as Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO) to strongly urge you to allow Taiwan’s unconditional inclusion in participating as an observer in this year’s 71st World Health Assembly (WHA), and in future annual and technical meetings.

Last year, the WHO – under pressure from the People’s Republic of China – withheld its invitation for Taiwan to participate in the 70th WHA. With this action, the WHO became complicit in Beijing’s campaign to keep Taiwan out of meaningful participation in assemblies like these. The decision to withhold the invitation, after eight consecutive years of Taiwan’s participation, violated the spirit of a key principle set forth in the preamble of the WHO Constitution, which states that “the health of all peoples is fundamental to the attainment of peace and security and is dependent on the fullest co-operation of individuals and states.” Global health and safety should not be held hostage to China’s political objectives. We are all safer when Taiwan has meaningful and unobstructed participation in international health cooperation fora.

Taiwan has a long history of generous contributions to international efforts to prevent epidemics and provide critical humanitarian aid following natural disasters. It has been an important participant in global efforts to prevent, monitor, contain, and treat infectious diseases, and has demonstrated its good global citizenship through humanitarian efforts both within the Asia-Pacific region and around the world.

We urge you to restore Taiwan’s participation at the upcoming WHA and in the work of WHO, which was created to serve all of humanity. The known and emerging health challenges we face are far too important to exclude valuable partners like Taiwan. Thank you for your leadership and attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

CC: The Honorable Michael R. Pompeo, Secretary of State
       The Honorable Alex M. Azar, Secretary of Health and Human Services

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