The US House of Representatives unanimously passed a house bill urging the State Department to draft a plan to help Taiwan reclaim its observer status at the World Health Organization’s decision-making body, the World Health Assembly.
Voting 425-0, Congress passed the measure before sending the bill to the White House, where President Joe Biden is expected to sign it into law. The bill had also passed the Senate last August.
With China’s assertions that Taiwan is their province and not an independent country, Taiwan is excluded from most global organizations, including the WHO and the UN health agency.
The house bill directs the Secretary of State to discuss a strategy for Taiwan to reclaim its observer status at the World Health Assembly.
Taiwan lost that status in 2017.
Stating support for the bill, Democratic Representative Gerry Connolly praised Taiwan’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and emphasized that the country had only 37,000 confirmed cases despite its population of 23.5 million. Taiwan had also shared expertise and donated protective equipment internationally, Connolly added.
“Taiwan’s leadership and contribution to global health security demonstrate why it ought to be part of the general conversation on public health,” he said.
Taiwan has raised its alert level since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in preparation that Beijing might make a similar move on the island. But, so far, there have been no signs of this happening.
Similar concerns have fueled efforts in the United States to support Taiwan, such as increasing its participation in international organizations like the WHO.
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