FILE - A man passes an Interpol logo.
FILE - A man passes an Interpol logo.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill Monday in support of Taiwan's participation in the International Criminal Police Organization, or Interpol.

Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has embraced the bill, which the Senate passed March 8.

"These developments underscore the great importance Washington attaches to Taiwan's expanded participation in international organizations," said a Taiwanese Foreign Ministry statement released to Taiwan Today. "Such long-term bipartisan support also shows that Taiwan-U.S. relations are at their best state in 37 years."

"At this time, Taiwan relies on delayed secondhand [information] from the U.S. about international criminals and criminal activities, making it vulnerable to security threats," said Representative Chris Smith, a New Jersey Republican who sponsored the bill. "Likewise, Taiwan can’t share the law enforcement information it gathers to the benefit of Interpol members.

"Taiwan's participation will benefit Interpol's reform," he added. "A number of authoritarian countries abuse the Interpol red notice system, not against criminals but to harass political dissidents in exile who are unable to travel internationally for fear they will be arrested and face extradition in their home country where they suffer persecution, imprisonment and even death."

The bill, first introduced by Representative Matt Salmon, an Arizona Republican, in 2015 and sent to the Senate in November, will require President Barack Obama to develop a strategy to obtain observer status for Taiwan in Interpol, a move that requires an official request, the urging of member states and a status report to Congress.

Interpol was designed to promote the widest possible mutual assistance among all criminal police authorities in the spirit of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. From 1964 until 1984, Taiwan enjoyed full membership in Interpol, but was removed when the People’s Republic of China applied for membership.

China opposes Taiwan's participation in any international organizations.

Taiwan is currently an observer at the World Health Assembly.

This report was produced in collaboration with VOA's Mandarin service.