Taiwan and 15 allies launch 12th bid for U.N. membership

Jane Rickards, TAIPEI, Taiwan, The China Post

Taiwan launched its twelfth bid to enter the United Nations, with 15 allies presenting a case which for the first time refers to current high tensions with China, arguing they will be alleviated if the island joins the world body, Minister of Foreign Affairs Chen Tan Sun announced yesterday.

The 15 allies, mainly developing nations from the Caribbean, Pacific and Africa, presented a proposal to resolve the question of Taiwan’s U.N. representation Tuesday to U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, requesting this year’s U.N. General Assembly discuss it when the body meets in mid-September.

The proposal argues Taiwan’s 23 million people should enjoy the same rights and benefits of U.N. membership enjoyed by other countries and their exclusion amounted to “political apartheid”.

“(Their) exclusion is not in accordance with principles of universality set out in the United Nations charter,” said Minister Chen yesterday.

Taiwan withdrew from the U.N. in 1971, with its seat taken by China, which has since claimed to represent the island in the world body.

Taiwan has been pushing for U.N. membership since 1993 but China, which claims the island is a renegade province with no right to its own independent government, usually blocks the proposal from even making the General Assembly’s agenda for discussion.

Minister Chen said this year “highly tense” relations between Taiwan and China were mentioned in a memorandum in the proposal.

The memorandum points out the U.N.’s first duty is to preserve the world’s security, peace and prosperity and stability in the Taiwan strait was a key factor in preserving this in the region.

Minister Chen said that Taiwan was a small, peace loving country which did not have the ability to attack China and pledged that tensions would die down if Taiwan’s bid was successful.

“This is a good opportunity for the U.N. to resolve the issue of Taiwan’s representation,” he said “If the problem is resolved effectively, tensions will cool down very quickly,” he said.

The proposal, “The problem of the right for representation for Taiwan’s 23 million people in the United Nations”, also points out that Taiwan does not want to compete with China and take its seat, but hopes that the two sides can peacefully coexist.

It also points out that a historic U.N. resolution giving China the right to U.N. representation does not explicitly give the Communist power the right to represent Taiwan in the body.

The Ministry warned archrival China that blocking Taiwan’s bid this time would only make the Taiwan people angry with their giant neighbor.

“The authorities in Beijing must understand that blocking Taiwan’s 23 million people from participating in international society will only arouse negative feelings in Taiwan’s people and friends of Taiwan living abroad and will be of no help in improving cross-strait relations,” a statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

“We hope that the Beijing authorities will recognize the reality that the two sides of the Taiwan Strait have been politically separated for half a century,” the statement said,

Minister Chen urged the world to support the bid, adding he hoped countries who had friendly relations with Taiwan, such as Japan and the U.S., would not speak out against it, even if they could not support it.

Minister Chen also could not confirm rumors that President Chen Shui-bian intends to hold a press conference with journalists covering the U.N. using video conferencing to step up publicity for the bid — but he would not deny them either.

“I have heard of this plan but whether it will happen at the time, I am not sure,” he said.

Minister Chen said the terms Republic of China and Taiwan were used interchangeably and the focus of the proposal was on the rights and welfare of Taiwan’s people.