DPP lawmaker questions ICAO designation

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff reporter

Fri, Sep 20, 2013 - Page 1

The nation’s delegation that will attend the 38th assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) next week will do so under the name “Chinese Taipei Civil Aeronautics Administration” rather than “Chinese Taipei” as the government has claimed, Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Kuan Bi-ling (管碧玲) said yesterday.

“It’s a very serious issue,” Kuan said. “Without a comma placed between ‘Chinese Taipei’ and ‘Civil Aeronautics Administration,’ the designation actually means a civil aviation authority in Taipei, China”

Kuan said that Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) Director-General Jean Shen (沈啟) should lodge a protest against the designation when she attends the assembly, to be held in Montreal from Tuesday through Oct. 4.

The government announced on Friday last week that ICAO Council President Roberto Kobeh-Gonzalez had on Sept. 11 sent Shen a letter inviting her to lead a delegation to the assembly as his guests under the name “Chinese Taipei.”

While the status of “special guests of the president of the ICAO council” accorded to the delegation under the name of “Chinese Taipei” has been repeatedly underlined at press conferences held by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the CAA and in their subsequent news statements, both agencies have declined to publicize the actual letter of invitation.

The letter of invitation, which the Taipei Times obtained yesterday from Kuan, showed that both the ministry and the CAA might have tried to withhold the document to avoid being questioned about the name reference.

Shen was addressed as the director-general of Chinese Taipei Civil Aeronautics Administration, the letter shows.

“I have the pleasure to invite experts or officials of your Administration as my guests to be present at the 38th Session of the Assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO),” Kobeh-Gonzalez wrote in the letter.

Taiwan has never attended an international event using a designation that obviously implies it is a delegation from China, Kuan said.

“There would have been a comma between Chinese Taipei and ‘Civil Aeronautics Administration’” if it had referred to a civil aviation authority in a country whose name can only be called “Chinese Taipei,” Kuan said.

The way in which Taiwan was able to get an invitation to the ICAO meeting was no different from the nation’s participation at the annual World Health Assembly (WHA) since 2009 in pursuant to the 2005 China-WHO memorandum of understanding concerning Taiwan, which cemented Taiwan’s status as part of China, Kuan said.

When attending the WHA in 2011, then-Department of Health minister Chiu Wen-ta (邱文達) delivered a letter to the WHO protesting its derogatory treatment of Taiwan, after Kuan revealed to the media an internal WHO memo that urged the organization’s officials to use “Taiwan, Province of China” when referring to Taiwan, triggering public outrage.

Shen should lodge a protest when she is in Montreal, Kuan said.

In a telephone interview yesterday, Chris Huang (黃居正), an associate professor at the Institute of Law for Science and Technology at National Tsing Hua University, said Shen should not attend the assembly because the invitation showed that she was invited in an unofficial capacity that does not represent the CAA or the country.

“Since Shen is the head of the CAA, and not just an academic or an expert in the civil [aviation] sector, the name under which she attends the assembly is a matter of great importance. Participating in that name would belittle or degrade the nation’s sovereignty,” Huang said.

Placing the name “Chinese Taipei” in front, as opposed to the common practice — Civil Aeronautics Administration, Chinese Taipei — made the designation similar to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, a status that is subordinate to China, Huang said.

Michael Gau (高聖惕), a professor at the Institute of the Law of the Sea at National Taiwan Ocean University, said that while Shen was invited as a CAA official, her official status “was not fully recognized.”

The official name of the CAA should be followed by the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, but that part was left out in the letter to refrain from giving the implication that “she is from the central government,” Gau said.

Taiwan has not been able to participate in international organizations without Beijing’s nod, and the ICAO is no exception, Gau said.

The way Taiwan is invited by ICAO council president to be present at the ICAO assembly shows that it was China, not the US, that facilitated the invitation, he said.

Beijing did not want to see the US push for Taiwan’s participation in the ICAO by making a request at the assembly, as it is required to do under the US bill H.R. 1151, but neither did it want to be blamed for standing in the way of Taiwan's international participation, he said.

In related news, foreign ministry spokeswoman Anna Kao (高安) said on Wednesday night that 10 Taiwanese journalists who had applied for press credentials for the ICAO meetings had been approved.

Government agencies provided assistance and coordination to help obtain accreditation for the journalists, who represent various media outlets, she said.

The deadline for media accreditation was Monday.

“Nine Taiwanese journalists had applied for accreditation prior to Sept. 16, then one other journalist applied in the afternoon of Sept. 17,” she said.

“Through our government’s diligent efforts, we are certain that the journalist who applied on Sept. 17 will be able to attend,” she said.

Additional reporting by Jason Pan