Controversy arose yesterday after it was revealed that the first young Taiwanese to be appointed as a representative at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is listed as being from “Taiwan (Province of China).”
Chang Liang-yi (張良伊), born in 1988, was elected as a focal point for UNFCCC youth nongovernmental organizations during the 18th Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP18) to the UNFCCC, held in the Qatari capital, Doha, from Nov. 26 through Friday last week.
As the focal point representing developing countries in YOUNGO — the official youth constituency of the UNFCCC — Chang will be in charge of communicating with the Secretariat of the UNFCCC and attend UN activities concerning climate change on behalf of young people next year.
However, the nationality printed on his candidate registration form — “Taiwan (Province of China)” — has stirred up debate in Taiwan, and a report in the Chinese-language Apple Daily on the matter published yesterday drew additional public attention.
At the legislature, Minister of Foreign Affairs David Lin (林永樂) expressed his regret.
“It’s the duty of every citizen to safeguard the nation’s sovereignty, status and dignity. I feel extremely saddened by the choice [Chang] made,” Lin said at a meeting of the Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee in Taipei.
Although it has been an aim of Taiwan’s to participate in international organizations, the nation’s status and sovereignty must not be compromised in the process, he said.
In response to questions from lawmakers, Liang Guang-chung (梁光中), deputy director-general of the ministry’s Department of Treaty and Legal Affairs, distanced the government from the matter, saying Chang enrolled in the institution “as an individual, not as a representative of Taiwan.”
“[The whole matter] was his personal preference,” Liang said.
Chang is the founder and chairman of the Taiwan Youth Climate Coalition (TWYCC) and the organization was one of many civil groups which, along with some government officials, and representatives from the industrial and academic sectors, comprised the nation’s COP18 delegation, which was present as a non-governmental organization (NGO) observer.
Liang said that Chang attended COP18 “as a member of the Green Club,” a Vancouver-based organization established in 1994 by a group of people from Taiwan, China and Hong Kong.
However, the registration documents, which can be downloaded from the UNFCCC’s Web site, suggest otherwise.
In the documents, Chang introduced himself as the TWYCC’s founder and described the endeavors he had engaged in over the past few years to pursue the stated goals of the UNFCCC.
“As the chairman of first youth climate NGO in Taiwan and stakeholder in a youth hotel, I have a lot of experience and stories to share with YOUNGO,” Chang wrote, in response to a question on the application asking what made him a good candidate to be a focal point.
Liang, who was in the nation’s delegation to COP18, said the ministry had no prior knowledge that Chang had his nationality listed as “Taiwan (Province of China)” on his registration form.
Before the COP18 meeting began, the ministry held a briefing, which Chang Liang-yi attended for members of the delegation to remind them to be careful about issues regarding China during activities and events, Liang said.