Washington, 10 October 1998
Mr. LANTOS. Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of House
Concurrent Resolution 334, advocating the participation of Taiwan in
the World Health Organization. I want to pay tribute, first of all,
to my distinguished colleague, Mr. Brown of Ohio, who has fought for
this necessary legislation with the courage and passion that he
brings to so many important policy matters in this body. He is truly
a champion for human rights, and I am proud to serve with him. I
also want to pay tribute to our colleague Gerald Solomon, who has
been a leading supporter of Taiwan for many decades.
House Concurrent Resolution 334 addresses a matter that, in my
strongly held opinion, should transcend the political divides that
characterize the complex China-Taiwan issue. This bill is about the
health of children and adults, and about not letting the political
anachronism of Taiwan's exclusion from the international community
limit the ability of its children to receive medical treatments,
vaccines, and support services that would allow them to fight
disease with greater effectiveness and efficiency.
As we debate this issue this afternoon, Taiwan is attempting to
cope with a fatal outbreak of a new, virulent strain of enterovirus
type 71. This disease is highly contagious, and it strikes children
and infants with devastating consequences, causing sever
inflammation of muscles surrounding the brain, spinal cord, and
heart. In the month of June alone, more than 50 children died from
this horrible affliction.
Mr. Speaker, we have a moral responsibility to do everything in
our power to ease the suffering of the Taiwanese people, and to
achieve this end we must endorse Taiwan's participation in the WHO.
The WHO has the capacity to the provide medical research and
supplies to assuage the impact of the enterovirus epidemic, and we
must not allow diplomatic technicalities to impede this worthy goal.
It is most appropriate that we encourage involvement by Taiwan in
the WHO. Taiwan is a country of some 22 million people, with an
advanced medical and research infrastructure and a highly trained
cadre of medical personnel--many of whom have been educated at the
finest universities in the United States.
Taiwan has much to contribute as a member of the WHO -- it should
be a member, it should be working with other nations to improve
world health. The exclusion of Taiwan from the WHO has everything to
do with petty politics and misguided pride in Beijing, but it is a
great loss to the world community to exclude Taiwan.
Mr. Speaker, I emphatically urge my colleagues to join me in
standing up for the human rights of the children of Taiwan by voting
for House Concurrent Resolution 334.