China on Thursday celebrated rival Taiwan’s latest failure to join the United Nations

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AP

BEIJING — China on Thursday celebrated rival Taiwan’s latest failure to join the United Nations by calling on Taiwanese to work for unity and attacking the island’s government for provoking Beijing.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said the decision by a U.N. committee to reject a vote on Taiwan’s hoped-for entry reaffirmed Beijing’s position that the island is part of China.

“No one can change the fact that Taiwan is an inalienable part of Chinese territories,” the state-run Xinhua News Agency cited Jiang as saying.

On Wednesday, the U.N. General Assembly’s General Committee decided not to include a vote on admitting Taiwan into the world body on this year’s General Assembly agenda.

Though the attempt was Taiwan’s 15th failure to join the U.N. in as many years, the latest efforts have particularly agitated Beijing. The U.N. vote – and a public referendum on the issue scheduled for next year on Taiwan – are seen by Beijing as an attempt by Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian to undermine China’s claims to sovereignty, and give a legal basis to the independence Taiwan has enjoyed in practice since the two sides split in a civil war 58 years ago.

Shortly after Wednesday’s vote, China’s U.N. ambassador, Wang Guangya, described Taiwan’s U.N. entry bid as a plot to promote independence, and said Chen was using the issue to inflame tensions with Beijing as a way to improve his political standing in Taiwan.

“Instead of offering blessings to the Taiwan compatriots, these activities can only cause disastrous consequences,” Xinhua, in a separate report, quoted Wang as saying. “We hope and believe that the Taiwan compatriots can clearly see Chen’s ulterior motives.”

The U.N. issue has emotional resonance among Taiwan’s public. Taiwan, whose formal name is the Republic of China, was tossed out of the U.N. in 1971 as part of a deal to give the China seat to Beijing. At the time, both Taiwan and Beijing claimed to be China’s sole legitimate government.

In recent years, Taiwan has dropped the claim and sought to emerge on the international stage as a separate country – a claim that Beijing rejects. The result has been an all-out campaign by Beijing to keep other countries from recognizing Taiwan and to pressure the island’s few remaining diplomatic allies into withdrawing support.

At the U.N. committee meeting Wednesday, two countries spoke in favor of allowing a vote on Taiwan’s membership – St. Vincent and the Solomon Islands – while China and Egypt spoke against it, Janos Tisovszky, spokesman for the assembly president, told reporters.