WHO bid rejected

Geneva, 11 May 1998. Taiwan's bid to join the UN-affiliated world body as an observer was rejected at the third plenary meeting of the conference's opening on 11 May 1998. Four of Taiwan's diplomatic allies -- The Gambia, Grenada, Nicaragua and Senegal -- raised a proposal on behalf of 15 other nations, demanding that the WHO allow Taiwan to enter and asked that the proposal be put on the annual gathering's agenda.

The health ministers of Chad, Gambia and Nicaragua also spoke out in the meeting to support Taiwan's bid to join the WHO, stating that the island should not be excluded from the international organization since public health problems are not a political issue.

The basic human rights of the 21 million people of Taiwan should be respected and it is unfair to isolate Taiwan, a constructive member of the international community, they noted.

However, the proposal was turned down by Bahrain Health Minister F.R. Mousawi, who chaired the meeting, after representatives from Communist China and Pakistan voiced opposition.

U.S. Congressmen immediately voiced strong disapproval of the move: Ohio Democrat Sherrod Brown -- who had initiated Congressional action in favor of Taiwan's WHO membership -- wrote in a letter to US Secretary Donna Shahala:

"It is very disappointing to learn that in the past few days the PRC has effectively torpedoed any consideration of this important issue by the assembly....

Such bullying is unacceptable, and the U.S. must play a more assertive role in promoting Taiwan's participation in international organizations. This support would be entirely consistent with the spirit of the "Taiwan Policy Review" conducted by the State Department in 1994."

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