U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee Passes Bill to Help Taiwan Restore WHO Observer Status

The U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee passed a bipartisan bill Thursday (March 25) that would require the State Department to help restore Taiwan to World health Organization observer status.

The bill, co-sponsored by Republican Young Kim and Democrat Brad Sherman, both from California, was signed by a large number of members of both parties last month.

The bill, H.R. 1145, would direct the U.S. secretary of state to implement a strategy to restore Taiwan’s observer status at the WHO and its executive body, the World Health Assembly.

Taiwan is a strong ally of the United States and a partner in the world’s global health and security, and just recently responded swiftly to the new coronavirus disease,” said Rep. Ying-Yu Kim in a statement Thursday. Unfortunately, the People’s Republic of China’s exclusion of Taiwan has prevented it from engaging in critical cooperation and information sharing with WHO.”

In a statement, Rep. Sherman said, “China’s continued exclusion of Taiwan from the WHO is unacceptable. The State Department must work diligently to support Taiwan as it looks to restore its observer status. I will continue to work with my colleagues and the Biden administration to strengthen U.S.-Taiwan relations.”

Rep. Chris Smith, a Republican from New Jersey, cosponsored the bill. Smith mentioned Thursday that Taiwan sent out an alert about the virus early in the outbreak when Beijing was still hiding the truth, and that Taiwan also donated 300,000 masks to New Jersey last April during the grim period of the outbreak. He said democratic Taiwan has been exemplary in responding to global health crises and engaging with the world, and that “its exclusion from the WHO because of China is a scandal that threatens global health and highlights the Chinese Communist Party‘s disregard for the common global good under Xi Jinping.”

The bill will next be sent to the full House for consideration.

Taiwan was able to attend the World Health Assembly as an observer under the name “Chinese Taipei” every year from 2009 until 2015 under the presidency of KMT’s Ma Ying-jeou, and has not been able to attend as an observer since 2016, when political relations between Beijing and Taipei deteriorated following the election of DPP’s Tsai Ing-wen as president. Taiwan has not been able to attend the WHO as an observer since then.