Gardner, Senate colleagues urge WHO to include Taiwan in coronavirus fight

While the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the Wuhan coronavirus a global health emergency, it has not permitted Taiwan to attend any emergency briefings despite the country having 10 confirmed cases of the virus — action that doesn’t sit well with U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) and several of his U.S. Senate colleagues.

“We must ensure that this communicable and deadly virus is contained and that means working with our international partners anywhere the virus is detected, including the island of Taiwan,” wrote Sen. Gardner, chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy, and six of his colleagues in a Jan. 31 letter sent to WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

The lawmakers requested that Taiwan be granted observer status at WHO meetings and gatherings, and in the interim, they asked that Taiwan be provided with “the information and assistance they need to deal with this latest outbreak,” just as WHO would provide it to any member or observer.

Dangerous communicable diseases like the coronavirus require a coordinated global effort, they wrote, “and it is times like these where countries with world-class capabilities, like Taiwan, should be allowed to lend their expertise toward prevention and containment efforts.”

Sen. Gardner and the other senators also pointed out that the People’s Republic of China has spearheaded a “concerted and persistent campaign” to isolate Taiwan from the global community, and has pressured countries and international organizations to do the same.

“Taiwan’s exclusion from the WHO is an act of aggression that harms the international public health community’s ability to coordinate effectively,” Sen. Gardner and the members wrote. “The inability of the government of Taiwan to obtain important information regarding current global health concerns could mean that they are not provided all data necessary for a quick response.”

With the world attempting to stop the coronavirus from becoming a pandemic, “it is vital that unacceptable diplomatic bullying tactics do not stand in the way of Taiwan’s critical participation in this fight,” the members wrote.