Wed, Jun 18, 2003 - Page 1 News List

UN reporters planning Taiwan seminar

By Charles Snyder  /  STAFF REPORTER IN WASHINGTON

Journalists at the UN are planning a briefing on self-determination for Taiwan today at the organization's headquarters in New York, less than a month after China blocked their attempts to hold a briefing on Taiwan's response to the SARS epidemic.

On May 23, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan barred Andrew Hsia (夏立言), director-general of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in the US, from attending a UN Correspondents Association (UNCA) press conference on SARS at UN headquarters.

The UN acted in response to objections from the Chinese delegation, sparking a street protest the next day by the journalists' organization, led by association president Anthony Jenkins.

Jenkins later wrote letters to Annan and Chinese Ambassador Wang Yingfan (王英凡), criticizing their lack of respect for freedom of the press.

The association has invited Chen Lung-chu (陳隆志), a founder of the Taipei-based New Century Foundation, and Nancy Soderberg, who was the deputy to Madeline Albright when she was the US ambassador to the UN, to speak today.

Wang turned down an invitation to take part.

The reaction of the Chinese delegation and the UN bureaucracy to this week's planned press conference was not clear Monday.

Meanwhile, 10 pro-independence Taiwanese-American organizations have written to Jenkins praising his efforts to bring Taiwanese issues before the world community and condemning Chinese actions to stymie those efforts.

"We wish to express our appreciation for your courageous actions," the group wrote in a letter to Jenkins on Monday. "We are grateful that the UNCA has tried its best to give the Taiwanese people a voice in the ongoing SARS crisis, and that it has fought for the right of the island's political leaders to disseminate and receive the information they so desperately need to combat the disease."

Citing the 1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty, which formally ended World War II, the Taiwanese-American groups called the treaty "the legal basis for the right of self-determination for the people of Taiwan."

"Despite the incessant threats from Chinese quarters, Taiwan is nevertheless gradually moving from a state of de facto to de jure independence," the groups said.

This week's conference, "The Applicability of International Law on Self-determination and Decolonization for Taiwan," is scheduled to be held in the UNCA meeting room in the UN building.

The Taiwanese groups said that a discussion of Taiwan's self-determination "is long overdue and will hopefully serve to dispel the various myths surrounding Taiwan's place in the international community."

Wu Ming-chi, the president of a Taiwan lobbying group in Washington, the Formosan Association for Public Affairs, voiced support for the planned UNCA conference.

"The United Nations must hold itself accountable to the ideals it stands for, Article 19 of the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights guarantees freedom of the press. This guarantee cannot be subject to narrow political considerations or to pressure from the PRC government," he said.

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