Sat, Sep 24, 2016 - Page 1 News List

Ministry regrets lack of ICAO invitation

POLITICS AND FLYING:President Tsai Ing-wen said aviation safety is a basic human right and that politics should have no influence over people’s expectations of safety

By Alison Hsiao  /  Staff reporter

Minister of Foreign Affairs David Lee, right, and Deputy Minister of Transportation and Communications Wang Kwo-tsai attend a news conference in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: CNA

Minister of Foreign Affairs David Lee (李大維) yesterday said that the ministry has not received an invitation to this year’s International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) assembly in Canada, adding that the government regrets and is disappointed with the outcome, while it believes the apparent decision to not invite Taiwan is a mistake.

“It is extremely unfair to Taiwan and a great loss to international flight safety,” Lee told a news conference in Taipei after confirming at the Legislative Yuan in the morning that the ministry had not yet received an invitation.

Lee on Thursday said that the ministry would know by yesterday whether it would receive an invitation.

Separately yesterday, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said that flight safety is a basic human right and should not be compromised with any “premise” or “affected and deprived due to the intervention of political factors,” regardless of political affiliation.

“Since [the first direct presidential election in] 1996, Taiwanese have shown the world our resolve for democracy and freedom. The road chosen by Taiwanese is a demonstration of collective will. If we all agree that democracy is a universal value, then there should not be anyone suffering unfair treatment because they chose democracy; there should not be anyone deprived of their rights just because they do not accept some undemocratic framework and confinement,” the president said.

“Participating in international organizations and activities with equality, dignity and an aim to make a contribution has always been Taiwan’s goal, and part of Taiwan’s rights and obligations as a member of the international community,” Tsai said.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Lee Kun-tse (李昆澤) said at a legislative question-and-answer session that Taiwan’s international participation has consistently met opposition from China.

“The ICAO is a civil aviation organization and its discussions on security and counterterrorism issues could influence nations worldwide to implement new regulations,” Lee Kun-tse said, adding that 1.53 million aircraft and 58 million people pass through the Taipei Flight Information Region every year, while aviation safety is not confined to national borders and should not be trumped by political ideologies.

Premier Lin Chuan (林全) said that the government has not received an invitation and that Taiwan therefore “has little chance to attend” this year’s ICAO assembly.

“Flight safety is a basic human right and should not be compromised by political factors. [Rejecting Taiwan’s attendance] is an unreasonable treatment and oppression, to which we are here expressing our gravest regret and disappointment,” the premier said.

Lin said the ICAO’s Air Transport Monthly Monitor since July last year has listed Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport as “Taipei, CN (TPE)” rather than “Taipei, TW (TPE)” as it was previously.

The Central News Agency said that ICAO secretary-general Fang Liu (柳芳), a Chinese national, took over the position in August last year.

Lee Kun-tse said China obstructed Taiwan’s participation and has compromised aviation safety by insisting on its “one China” political framework.

“Yes, that is probably the case, but I have to emphasize that this move is a mistake,” Lin said.

Mainland Affairs Council Minister Katharine Chang (張小月) said that as early as Aug. 4, a day after Taiwan sent a letter of willingness to participate in the event to the ICAO president, “the MAC told [its Chinese counterpart] that it is Taiwan’s right and obligation to take part in international organizations with no strings attached and tried to negotiate over [ICAO attendance] with it, but unfortunately, our olive branch failed to receive a positive response.”

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