Rep. Yoho pushing for Taiwanese participation in World Health Organization

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL) and a bipartisan group of legislators want Taiwan reinstated in the World Health Organization. They believe the island nation can play a crucial role in combating global health crises. But they say geopolitics kept Taiwan out of a recent health summit. Yoho says the State Department needs to push for Taiwan's re-entry.

Rep. Yoho (R-FL) says Taiwan played an important role in addressing the SARS outbreak.

“Diseases don’t know borders, and that’s something that affects all of humanity,” said Yoho.

As chair of the Foreign Relation Committee’s Asia Subcommittee, he is introducing bipartisan legislation that calls on the State Department to develop a strategy to bring Taiwan back into the World Health Organization.

“They’re not a nation state, but they should be able to participate as a member state,” said Yoho.

In years past, Taiwan has participated in the World Health Assembly, the top health summit, under observer status. This year they were not invited because of objections from the Chinese government.

“China says, ‘Get them out of here.’ They’re like an angry child,” said Yoho.

Yoho says Taiwan has been an invaluable voice in global health crises like the SARS outbreak. Bonnie Glaser from the Center for Strategic and International Studies says their efforts are deserving of a seat at the table.

“We shouldn’t have to wait for another health crisis in order to learn the lesson again that excluding Taiwan is not in anybody’s interests,” said Glaser.

She says China pushed out Taiwan because of a new government in Taipei that is not favorable to Beijing. She says relations are not improving and believes China’s sway will keep Taiwan on the outside for the foreseeable future.

“Most countries just don’t want to challenge China. They don’t want to face economic recrimination which China often does with countries that act against Chinese interests,” said Glaser.

The Foreign Affairs committee has to pass Yoho’s legislation before it can come up for a vote on the House floor.