Taiwan will attend the 38th assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) as a guest of the UN body’s council president, government officials said at a press conference yesterday morning.
ICAO Council President Roberto Kobeh Gonzalez has invited Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) Director-General Jean Shen (沈啟) to attend the triennial assembly in Montreal from Sept. 24 to Oct. 4, Deputy Minister of Transportation and Communications Jonathan Chen (陳純敬) said.
Shen has accepted the invitation and will attend with a group of delegates under the name of Chinese Taipei, he added.
This would be the first time that Taiwan would be attending the ICAO assembly since it lost its UN seat in 1971, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Vanessa Shih (史亞平) said. It would also be the second time Taiwan would be participating in a meeting of a UN agency, following its attendance at the World Health Assembly in 2009, she said.
The government has been campaigning for the nation’s participation in ICAO-related events since 2009, Shih said.
The meeting between former vice president Lien Chan (連戰) and former Chinese president Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) at the APEC leaders’ summit last year had produced a favorable situation, whereby Lien asked China to show goodwill toward Taiwan’s participation in the UN body. The US, the EU and the nation’s allies around the world have been highly supportive of Taiwan’s bid to join the ICAO, she added.
Asked why the nation was invited as a guest of the council president rather than as an observer, Shen said that a participant needs to be either a non-contracting state or an international organization to qualify for observer status.
ICAO member states have yet to reach a consensus on the issue of Taiwan’s participation under either of the other two statuses, but they deemed it crucial and necessary that Taiwan attend the assembly for the sake of aviation safety, Shen said.
“The status of guest of the ICAO council president is very creative,” Shen said. “It will allow us to attend the meetings of the ICAO, gather updated information on aviation safety standards and exchange thoughts with civil aviation authorities around the world.”
Shih said the invitation extended to Taiwan was more or less the same as those given to an observer, adding that being the guest of the ICAO council president meets the nation’s goal of practical, meaningful and professional partipation in a global organization.
“We believe this is a good and viable arrangement,” Shih said.
Asked about reports that Taiwanese media have been denied the right to cover the ICAO assembly because of the UN’s “one China” policy, Shih said that the assembly, which has 191 members, may have limited seating for reporters.
However, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will do everything it can to assist reporters wishing to attend the event, she said.
Meanwhile, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office spokesman Yang Yi (楊毅) said at a regular news briefing yesterday that Taiwan’s participation at the ICAO assembly was a show of Beijing’s goodwill toward Taiwan.
“The arrangement illustrates the mainland’s concern for our Taiwanese compatriots, and displays our sincerity and efforts in maintaining the peaceful development of cross-strait relations,” Yang said.
However, Taiwan’s participation at the APEC leaders’ summit should be handled in accordance with established practices and related APEC memorandum of understanding, he said.
The American Institute of Taiwan (AIT) also welcomed Taiwan’s participation, saying it would support the nation’s efforts to implement aviation safety, security and environmental measures that are consistent with international standards and recommended practices.