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Thu, Aug 23, 2001 - Page 3 News List

Groups push for use of `Taiwan' in this year's UN bid

NAMES MATTER Pro-independence advocates are planning a 1km hike to boost support for using the name of `Taiwan' rather than the `ROC' for its re-entry bid

By Crystal Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Pro-independence groups plan a mass hike next month to promote UN entry under the name "Taiwan" rather than the "Republic of China."

"It is impossible for the country to join international organizations if it refuses to adopt a different title," said Wu Shu-ming (吳樹民), chief convener of the upcoming event and former president of the Independence Evening Post. "It is time for the public to face reality."

Echoing the theme, Lee Sheng-hsiung (李勝雄), leader of World United Formosans for Independence, noted that the international community already refers to the country as Taiwan, and that all exported commodities are labeled "Made in Taiwan." The hike, to be held on Sept. 8, will coincide with the 50th anniversary of the signing of the San Francisco treaty whereby Japan renounced sovereignty over Taiwan.

"The treaty makes no mention of which China -- the Republic of China or the People's Republic of China -- would be the beneficiary," Lee said, adding quickly that Taiwan has never been part of communist China.

Earlier this month the government kicked off a fresh campaign with the help of its foreign allies to seek the UN seat the country lost in 1971. Taiwan has struggled in vain over the last decade to rejoin the international body.

"The bid, the ninth of its kind, will prove futile as long as the country continues to use the title of the ROC," said Ben Wei (魏瑞明), co-sponsor of the hike which will span one kilometer along the border of Yangmingshan National Park.

Wei, who studied in the US in the early 1970's, said he witnessed the ROC flag being removed for the final time from the mast in front of UN headquarters in New York.

"I realized then that the ROC ceased to exist," Wei said.

To add force to their cause, Lee said he and fellow organizers will invite President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and politicians of all stripes to take part in the hike.

Khou Chenng-siong (許清松), head of the Taiwan Independence Party's Taipei chapter, said Chen used to blame the former ruling KMT for lying to the public with the claim that the ROC survived defeat in the civil war in 1949.

"But to appease foes at home and across the strait, he has apparently failed to square his beliefs with action by changing the country's name to Taiwan," Khou said.

He pointed out that in 1996, Chen endorsed a signature drive that called for the use of Taiwan in the country's effort to join the UN.

Ian Liao (廖宜恩), a mathematician at National Chungshing University and member of the Society of Central Taiwan, maintained that the struggle to full independence has yet to be won, as the president was not allowed any public activity during a transit stop in the US.

"It is pathetic that a popularly elected head of state should be subjected to such treatment," Liao said. "Only by renaming the country Taiwan can such humiliation be terminated."

The independence activists also plan to ask all legislative candidates to participate in the hike and to urge voters to reject those who fail to support the event.

"Politicians who refuse to recognize Taiwan's statehood are not qualified to serve as lawmakers," Lee said.

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