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May 26, 2017

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21 U.S. senators express support for Taiwan's WHA bid

WASHINGTON, CNA -- Twenty-one U.S. senators co-signed a letter to U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price Wednesday to "express profound concern" over Taiwan's exclusion from this year's World Health Assembly (WHA) due to Chinese obstruction.

The WHA, the decision-making body of the World Health Organization, is scheduled to take place in Geneva, Switzerland from May 22-31.

They also expressed hope that the United States "will renew its efforts, with like-minded countries, to affirm observer status for Taiwan at future WHAs, a policy held by the past two administrations."

The letter was also sent to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

"As an American partner and one of the most developed democracies and economies in the region, Taiwan has much to contribute to the WHA," the letter said.

"Its advanced health care system and record of providing humanitarian relief underscore the importance of its inclusion in global health forums," it said.

The letter also noted that infectious diseases do not recognize international borders and the inclusion of all international parties is crucial to protecting global health - particularly given Taiwan's record of strong public health institutions.

"Neither Taiwan, nor the international community is served by restricting Taiwan's access to timely information and important resources that protect public health," it said.

Taiwan first attended the WHA meeting as an observer in 2009, a year after the government of former President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) came to power and pursued a more conciliatory policy toward Beijing.

Taiwan had taken part in every WHA meeting since then, until this year.

Its exclusion is widely seen as the latest move by China to clamp down on Taiwan's international participation, a strategy that has become more aggressive since President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) of the Democratic Progressive Party, who is less conciliatory toward China, came to power in May 2016.

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