While we in general support efforts by the U.S. Congress to support Taiwan to become a member of international organizations, we recently learned of one resolution that must be referred to as shortsighted and outright silly: On 10 July 1998, the Senate passed Concurrent Resolution 30, which urges membership of Taiwan in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank (IBRD).
However, in an unholy alliance between Senator Jesse Helms (R-NC) and Diane Feinstein (D-CA), the wording of the "Resolved" section was changed at the last minute from support for the admission of Taiwan to membership in the IMF to the following phrase: "support changes in the IMF Charter that would allow ... Taiwan and other qualified economies..." to become members of the IMF, and the World Bank.
Taiwan Communiqué comment: Why in the world would the people in Taiwan want to become a member of the IMF if they are going to be referred to as just "an economy"? Just to pour their hard-earned money into a black hole, that is subsequently used to prop up corrupt and repressive regimes like China and Indonesia ?
Taiwan membership in the IMF and other international organizations as a "non-nation" is a non-starter. We suggest that any of these "back-door" approaches miss the basic point that the people of Taiwan want their nations to be accepted as a full and equal member of the international community, nothing more, but also nothing less. Tactics like the abovementioned one are shortsighted, downgrading and not acceptable.
As we reported in our previous edition (Taiwan Communiqué, no. 81, pp. 21-22), the May 1998 attempt to have the issue of Taiwan's membership placed on the agenda of the Geneva-based organization was rejected. However, the long-term campaign to have Taiwan join the WHO received a welcome boost on 8 July 1998 with the publication in the Washington Post of an article titled "Don't Taiwanese children count ?", by U.S. Congressman Sherrod Brown (D-OH).
Congressman Brown started his article by referring to Mr. Clinton's visit to China: "While President Clinton was visiting China, scores of Taiwanese children just across the straits were continuing to fight for their lives against a new, deadly virus. Unfortunately, the doctors treating this illness do not have access to the medical resources of the World Health Organization (WHO) because the regime in China will not permit Taiwan to gain membership. The fact that Taiwan is severely crippled in its effort to save children is a tragedy, with deadly implications for children the world over if this virus is not halted."
Congressman Brown went on to give details of the epidemic in Taiwan, and showed how Taiwan's exclusion from the WHO is denying its doctors and medical organization essential access to medical information. He said: "This issue should not be about geopolitics; it should be about helping humanity." He went on to give examples of how the WHO is working in other nations to help eradicate major childhood diseases.
He then stated: "I believe the denial of WHO membership to Taiwan is an unjustifiable violation of its people's fundamental human rights. Good health is a basic right for every citizen of the world, and Taiwan's admission to the WHO would greatly help foster that right for its people."
He added: " I and more than 50 of my colleagues in the House believe U.S. support for Taiwan's admission to the WHO is and has long been "clearly appropriate." Last February I introduced a resolution expressing the sense of Congress that Taiwan and its people should be represented in the WHO and that it should be U.S. policy to support Taiwan's membership.
As the WHO celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, the organization can proudly claim 191 nations as members. But for the past 25 years, Taiwan has been shut out of the WHO because of China's continued intransigence toward its small island neighbor. Every day, children and the elderly in Taiwan suffer needlessly because their doctors aren't able to have access to WHO medical protocols that save lives. The longer we wait, the more desperate the situation in Taiwan grows. We must act immediately to right a very serious wrong."
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