Fri, Oct 04, 2002 - Page 3 News List

MOFA moves to recognize Mongolia

FACING REALITY Eighty-one years after Mongolia declared its independence, ministry officials are ready follow the rest of the world and recognize it as an independent state

By Tsai Ting-I  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) yesterday said that Taiwan considers Mongolia an independent country.

The move follows the Ministry of the Interior's (MOI) recent decision to exclude Mongolia from the official map of the ROC.

"Mongolia declared independence in 1921 and became the 191st member of the United Nations in 1961. It has official diplomatic ties with 144 countries. Under international law, it is an independent country," Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Katharine Chang (張小月) said during the ministry's routine weekly press conference.

The MOI announced its decision on the new national boundary as part of the amendment to the "Guidelines on Publication of the ROC Map," last week. The announcement was welcomed by academics and the media yesterday as a step toward the recognition of Mongolia as an independent state.

The ministry's move, however, sparked debate over whether recognition of Mongolia is a constitutional issue requiring deliberation by the National Assembly or just a practical matter that could be dealt with by amending administrative rules.

Emile Sheng (盛治仁), a political science professor at Soochow University, argued that the ministry's decision amounted to an alteration of the national boundaries of the ROC, and, as such, requires National Assembly approval.

Article 4 of the ROC Constitution states that the territory of the ROC may not be altered except by resolution of the National Assembly.

Minister of the Interior Yu Cheng-hsien (余政憲), however, said that the MOI is only in charge of publication of the map, and that its decision was supported by the Mainland Affairs Council, MOFA and the Mongolian and Tibetan Affairs Commission.

"We made the decision out of practical considerations," Yu told reporters yesterday, adding that the constitutional issue was beyond his authority to deal with.

An MOI official said that Mongolia had not been part of ROC territory when the constitution was ratified in 1947 and that the matter should therefore not be considered a constitutional one.

The confusion surrounding the issue is based on the fact that the treaty whereby Taipei recognized Mongolia was revoked in 1953. The ministry's proposal would simply confirm Mongolia as enjoying the independent status it enjoyed before the Sino-Soviet Friendship Treaty of August 1945 was abrogated in 1953.

In that treaty, the ROC had agreed to recognize Mongolian independence if the Mongolian people voted in favor of it in a referendum. A referendum was held in October 1945, with the electorate voting overwhelmingly for independence. The ROC, therefore, recognized Mongolia in January 1946.

When the treaty was revoked in 1953, Mongolia was deemed by the ROC to have reverted to its control.

The MAC revised regulations earlier this year to allow Mongolian nationals to enter Taiwan using Mongolian passports, rather than separate travel documents issued by the Taiwan government.

The MOI also amended an article to grant the government the power to determine the nation's boundaries and capital on the official map, removing the former obligation to reflect the boundaries and capital as they were in 1949 when the ROC government fled China for Taiwan.

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