Statement by Howard Berman (D-CA)

Washington, 10 October 1998

Mr. BERMAN. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of House Concurrent Resolution 334, Relating to Taiwan's Participation in the World Health Organization.

I congratulate Mr. Sherrod Brown for the intense efforts he has made to bring this resolution before the House. House Concurrent Resolution 334 is a substitute resolution to House Joint Resolution 126, which Mr. Brown had introduced earlier and which I was a cosponsor.

This resolution calls attention to what I think we would all consider a basic human right, that is the right of every citizen to good health and access to the highest standards of health information and services. Denying a country of 21 million people to such international institutions as the World Health Organization should embarrass the member states of the United Nations who insist on keeping those doors shut to the Taiwanese people.

But I think this resolution points up an even more egregious mistake by the international community. The fundamental issue is not whether or not Taiwan should be a member of the World Health Organization. The issue is whether or not the international community should exclude a country like Taiwan from membership in any international organizations. We have a situation today in which pariah nations such as North Korea, Iraq, and Burma are members of the United Nations and actively participate--mostly in a negative fashion in terms of American interests--in all the activities of the United Nations and its specialized agencies. Whereas Taiwan which is democratic, with a free market economy, and with the third largest foreign exchange reserves in the world is unable to participate in almost every international organization.

There is something out of balance here that needs to be rectified. The Clinton administration in 1994 Taiwan Policy Review vowed to seek Taiwanese membership in "appropriate" international organizations. So far, no "appropriate" organizations have been found. I would urge the administration to intensify its search.

I think there are such organizations readily at hand in this city: the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

We are in the midst of a world economic crisis. Some respected economists even paint the dismal picture of an imminent world depression. The devastating effects of economic collapse are already apparent in the developing country and they are spreading to other states. The world's economy is sick. With foreign exchange reserves totaling $88 billion, Taiwan has some of the medicine which can help the rest of the world recover. We should be seeking for ways to help Taiwan contribute to the well-being of the international community, not finding ways to exclude Taiwan.

I am proud to be a cosponsor of the original resolution and, as ranking member of the Asia and Pacific Subcommittee of the International Relations Committee, I urge my colleagues to support the one before us today.

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