Washington, 10 October 1998
Mr. BROWN of Ohio. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from
American Samoa (Mr. Faleomavaega) for yielding me this time.
Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of House Concurrent Resolution
334, a bill to support Taiwan's efforts to participate in the World
Health Organization. I especially want to thank the gentleman from
New York (Mr. Solomon) for his leadership and perseverance on this
issue. Also the good work of the gentleman from American Samoa (Mr.
Faleomavaega), as well as the gentleman from California (Mr. Cox)
for his work on this, and the gentleman from Nebraska (Mr. Bereuter)
and the gentleman from New York (Mr. Gilman) as chairs of the
subcommittee and committee, respectively, for their assistance and
good work on this issue.
Mr. Speaker, every individual, regardless of political or
economic background, should have access to first-rate medical care.
I am pleased that this Congress is finally considering this
important legislation before we adjourn this year. Since 1972, the
21 million people of Taiwan have been blocked from participating in
the World Health Organization. As a consequence, especially the
children of Taiwan have needlessly suffered because their doctors
are denied access to the latest WHO protocols.
Unfortunately, with each passing year, administration after
administration in this country have contributed to Taiwan's plight
by supporting China's assertion that its neighbor is not a nation
and, therefore, should not be represented in the international
community. The fact of the matter is that participation for Taiwan
in the World Health Organization poses no threat to Beijing's
security but will actually enhance the quality of life for China 1.2
billion inhabitants in addition to Taiwan's 21 million citizens.
The WHO is not a political organization, as the gentleman from New
York (Mr. Solomon) pointed out. Disregarding political parties,
political philosophies, or political boundaries, the WHO works to
eradicate and control disease and improve the health of people
around the world. It has instituted highly effective immunization
programs allowing hundreds of millions of children to live longer
and better lives. The WHO has already helped protect eight out of
ten children worldwide from major childhood diseases, including
tuberculosis and measles and has worked to reduce the infant
mortality rate 40 percent since 1970.
Mr. Speaker, we should all be deeply upset by our country's
refusal to help Taiwan conquer diseases which we ourselves have
already exterminated. Taiwan's exclusion from the WHO has been
tragic. While the President was visiting China this past July,
scores of Taiwanese children were fighting for their lives against a
new deadly flu-like virus which attacks the muscle sacs around the
surrounding heart, brain, and upper spine. Over 70 infants died, and
possibly 100,000 other children have become infected and face an
This tragedy further illustrates the importance of Taiwan's
membership in the WHO and the need to access the valuable expertise
of this respected body. Young children and older citizens are
particularly vulnerable to a host of emerging infectious diseases
are without the knowledge and expertise shared among the member
nations of the World Health Organization. With increased travel and
trade among the members of our global village, disease obviously
does not stop at national borders and national boundaries.
When we learn of outbreaks of an enterovirus in Taiwan, Ebola in
Central Africa, or the Asian Bird Flu in Hong Kong, it is vital that
the WHO be allowed to combat our nation's vulnerability to spreading
infectious diseases before it reaches our shores. Erecting
boundaries to shared information which would help improve the health
of every American is a foolish and a deadly policy.
Twenty years ago, a mysterious and fatal virus from Africa first
appeared in New York and San Francisco. Our national health care
system, which is the finest in the world, was ill-prepared for the
spread of what we now know to be the AIDS virus. Two decades later,
AIDS has spread to all 50 States and killed over 100,000 Americans.
It is not in our interest to limit membership in an organization
which is dedicated to combating infectious disease.
Denying Taiwan the knowledge and the expertise of the WHO is a
fundamental violation of human rights. With just under 22 million
people, Taiwan's population is larger than 70 percent of the 191
members of the WHO, whose charter clearly states that membership
shall be open to all states. Good health is a basic right for every
citizen of the world, and Taiwan's participation in the WHO would
greatly help foster that right for its people.
The people of Taiwan and their democratically elected government
face many serious threats to their sovereignty. Chinese aggression
and their continuing threat of force to settle their claim to Taiwan
is a serious problem. Equally threatening is their efforts to
continue to thwart Taiwan's efforts to help improve the health of
Mr. Speaker, we are the only country in the world which can stand
up to China and the international community. We have an obligation,
Mr. Speaker, to support the Taiwanese people in their efforts to
determine their own future. I call on all my colleagues to support
House Concurrent Resolution 334, and to help Taiwan participate in
the World Health Organization.