Wed, Jun 25, 2008 - Page 3 News List

MOFA announces shift in strategy for membership bids

STAFF WRITER, WITH CNA

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said yesterday it would adopt a different strategy for Taiwan’s bid to join international organizations such as the WHO and the UN, and would take the US’ stance into consideration.

“Taiwan’s bids to join international organizations will be different from past ones,” said Harry Tseng (曾厚仁), director-general of the ministry’s Department of North American Affairs, at a press briefing. “Especially when applying for membership, Taiwan will fully consider the position of the United States.”

He said, however, that details such as whether to use the name “Chinese Taipei” when seeking to join international bodies had yet to be discussed by the ministry’s Department of International Organizations.

The nation has been trying, unsuccessfully, to obtain observer status at the World Health Assembly (WHA) — the WHO’s highest decision-making body — under its official title, the Republic of China, since 1997.

Last year, it applied for full WHO membership under the name “Taiwan” for the first time, but the bid once again failed because of opposition by Beijing, which said that Taiwan was part of its territory and not a sovereign state eligible for WHO membership.

The WHA announced on May 19 it would not put the Taiwan issue on the general assembly’s agenda, despite a motion by 17 of Taiwan’s 23 diplomatic allies requesting that Taiwan be given observer status at the organization.

Both the US and Japan have supported observer status for Taiwan at the WHA. Washington, however, does not support membership for Taiwan in organizations that require statehood for membership.

Beijing has also blocked Taiwan’s bid to regain UN membership, which Taipei lost in 1971.

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) has often said that his administration would try to reach a modus vivendi and call a “diplomatic truce” to improve cross-strait relations with China while exploring ways to expand Taiwan’s participation internationally.

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