U.S. Senate passes bill to aid Taiwan regain WHO observer status

Flags of Taiwan and U.S. are placed for a meeting in Taipei, Taiwan.

The U.S. Senate passed a bill late on Thursday calling on the State Department to submit a plan to help Taiwan regain its observer status at the World Health Organization, one of several U.S. bids to boost Taiwan as it faces pressure from Beijing.

Taiwan is excluded from most global organizations such as the WHO, the U.N. health agency, because of the objections of China, which considers the island one of its provinces and not a separate country.

The legislation, passed by unanimous consent, was sponsored by Senators Bob Menendez, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Jim Inhofe, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

The two are also co-chairmen of the Senate Taiwan Caucus.

“The U.S. must continue to stand by Taiwan, and do more to reaffirm our support for our ally’s international engagement,” Menendez said in a statement on Friday.

The measure directs the Secretary of State to establish a strategy for obtaining observer status at the World Health Assembly, the decision-making body of the WHO.

The House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee approved a similar bill earlier this year, but there has been no word on when the measure might come up for a vote in the full House.

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