Fri, Sep 17, 2004 - Page 1 News List

Taiwan's 12th bid for UN membership fails

By Melody Chen  /  STAFF REPORTER , WITH AP

Taiwan's 12th bid to enter the UN failed after the UN General Assembly decided on Wednesday not to include a proposal considering Taiwan's representation in the body in its agenda.

The proposal, entitled "The Question of the Representation of the 23 million people of Taiwan in the United Nations," submitted by 15 of Taiwan's allies, was discussed in the first General Committee meeting of the 59th session of the UN General Assembly in New York on Wednesday.

One hundred and fifteen countries spoke on the issue, with 21 of them speaking in Taiwan's favor. China mobilized 93 countries to speak against the proposal. Discussion on the issue lasted four hours.

After more than 90 speeches -- the vast majority against putting Taiwan on the assembly's agenda -- President Jean Ping of Gabon asked the assembly's General Committee if there were any objections to not including the issue for discussion in this year's General Assembly.

When none were voiced, he banged his gavel, and the request was rejected without a vote.

"At the first General Committee meeting this year, among all items considered, the one concerning Taiwan took the longest time to discuss, with the largest number of countries participating in a fervent debate," said Minister of Foreign Affairs Mark Chen (陳唐山) at a press conference explaining outcome of the proposal bid.

Noting that the lengthy and heated discussion of the proposal demonstrates that Taiwan's bid continues to draw extensive international attention, the minister expressed deep regret that the proposal was rejected.

"However, we are not discouraged. We have done just what is right. The international community will eventually respond positively to our appeal for justice and peace," Chen said.

Last year, China mobilized a record-high number of countries, 104, to speak against Taiwan's bid, whereas 24 of Taiwan's allies spoke in favor of it.

This year, four of Taiwan's allies, Kiribati, Panama, Haiti and the Dominican Republic, did not speak for the proposal. The Holy See, an observer in the UN, does not have the capacity to speak in the General Assembly.

Kiribati, though a UN member, did not send a delegation to the assembly. New leaders just took over Haiti and Panama, and they are still forming new diplomatic policies, said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

"The US remained silent throughout the discussion. Big EU nations, such as France, Germany and the UK, opposed to our bid. However, the UK, though it spoke against the proposal, spent some time acclaiming Taiwan's democratic achievement," Chen said.

Panama's ambassador to Taiwan Jose Antonio Dominguez explained that his country did not speak on behalf of Taiwan because Panama's new ambassador to the UN is still building contacts.

"We will continue supporting Taiwan. We will continue strengthening the relationship between the two countries," he said.

The ministry said although China mobilized all its diplomatic resources, "many countries that do not share diplomatic ties with us expressed to us, in a private fashion, their sympathy and support.

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) thanked the country's allies for their firm support of Taiwan's efforts to join the UN and the World Health Organization.

Speaking at a banquet celebrating the 183rd anniversary of the Independence Day of Central America, hosted by embassies of Taiwan's allies Costa Rica, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala and Honduras, the president vowed Taiwan would try its best to be a responsible member in the international community.

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