The US House of Representatives unanimously passed on Wednesday a house bill urging the State Department to propose a plan to help Taiwan recover its observer status at the World Health Organization.
With Congress voting 425-0 and passing the Senate last August, the bill is now on its way to the White House, where President Joe Biden is expected to sign the measure into law.
Taiwan is excluded from most global organizations like the WHO and the UN health agency due to objections from China, which asserts that Taiwan is a province of China and not an independent country.
The house bill directs the Secretary of State to establish a strategy for Taiwan re-obtaining its observer status at the WHO’s decision-making body, the World Health Assembly.
Taiwan lost that status in 2017.
Expressing support for the bill, Democratic Representative Gerry Connolly praised Taiwan’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and highlighted that the country had only 37,000 confirmed cases in a 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 anticipation that Beijing might make a similar move on the island. 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.
Opinions expressed by California Gazette contributors are their own.