Sun, Jun 09, 2019 - Page 1 News List

Taiwanese meteorology experts blocked from Geneva summit at last minute

‘IRRATIONAL MOVE’:The Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemned Beijing for blocking Taiwan’s attendance at the World Meteorological Congress in Switzerland

By Lin Chia-nan  /  Staff reporter

A sign with the name of the World Meterological Organization in English and French is pictured outside the organization’s headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, in an undated photograph.

Photo courtesy of Peng Chi-ming

Taiwanese experts were yesterday abruptly blocked from attending the World Meteorological Congress in Geneva, Switzerland, reportedly due to Chinese pressure.

Weatherrisk Explore Inc (天氣風險管理開發) general manager Peng Chi-ming (彭啟明) and Civil IoT Taiwan information platform convener Lu Chung-chin (呂忠津) were denied entry to the conference room that hosted the congress, which is held every four years, Civil IoT Taiwan wrote on Facebook. It began on Monday last week and runs through Friday.

Peng and Lu had earlier this week joined the meeting as civic observers, but their accreditation was abruptly canceled, it wrote, adding that it suspects that World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Assistant Secretary-General Zhang Wenjian (張文健) was behind the move.

“It is very uncomfortable to encounter such a situation on the spot in Geneva, just as a healthy person is suddenly told that he has cancer,” Peng wrote on Facebook on his way back to Taiwan.

He has Chinese friends working in the profession and they can respect each other’s values, Peng said, adding that he believes the “irrational move” was made by just a few people.

He wants to tell whoever is responsible that “although you have some power, you are losing people’s respect,” Peng wrote.

Taiwan’s representative office in Geneva had asked like-minded countries to express concern over a likely incident to the WMO, but the organization still succumbed to Beijing’s pressure, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

It condemned Beijing for impeding Taiwanese experts from participating in international exchanges in professional affairs and expressed regret over the WMO’s failure to stand firm.

The Chinese government has been imposing its fictitious “one China” principle on global organizations and businesses to the level of insanity, and does not even spare international cooperation in health, climate and disaster prevention, it said.

It would continue demanding that UN-affiliated agencies rectify their biased measures against Taiwanese, the ministry added.

Chinese obstructionism is increasingly felt in global meetings on atmospheric sciences, National Taiwan University Department of Atmospheric Sciences chair Lin Po-hsiung (林博雄) said.

He attended the WMO-backed Technical Conference on Meteorological and Environmental Instruments and Methods of Observation in Belgium in 2012, but did not sign up for its last year’s edition, as Taiwan’s country code has disappeared from its application system, so he only sat in on some speeches, instead of attending as a Chinese, he said.

Taiwan has been filing its weather data with WMO’s Global Telecommunication System through an information exchange center in Tokyo, instead of Beijing, he said.

Information gathered through the Formosat-3 and Formosat-7 satellite constellations — which are Taiwan-US collaborative programs — is processed through the US, he said.

Taiwan should continue working with the US or Europe in atmospheric observations, as well as promoting joint weather studies and disaster prevention with diplomatic allies and Southeast Asian countries, Lin said.

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