Fri, Dec 26, 2008 - Page 3 News List

MOFA burns the candle over UN ‘bid’

By Rich Chang  /  STAFF REPORTER, WITH CNA

A Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislator said yesterday the party opposed the government’s plan to apply for “meaningful” participation in UN agencies.

DPP Legislator Pan Meng-an (潘孟安) told a press conference yesterday that if the government applied to become a member of the UN’s 15 agencies, it would use the name “Taiwan region, the Republic of China,” which he said would seriously downgrade the nation’s status.

He said President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) approach to join international organizations would give the international community the impression that Taiwan is part of China.

The lawmaker said that while the former DPP administration had used a different approach in its UN bids, the Ma administration had changed the policy and only sought participation in agencies.

He said the new approach had confused the nation’s allies about how to help Taiwan in its bid during the General Assembly.

Pan said Ma’s weak approach could avert “angering” China, but it would seriously hurt the country, something Taiwanese would never accept.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday it was lobbying hard for the nation’s bid to participate in UN agencies, with a decision by the UN General Committee possibly coming as early as tomorrow.

“The ministry is paying close attention to the bid and is vigorously lobbying [for support],” ministry spokesman Henry Chen (陳銘政) told a press conference.

Chen refused to comment on the possible outcome of the latest diplomatic initiative, but said that how it plays out would be a barometer of the relationship between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait as well as Taiwan’s international image and status.

With the General Committee scheduled to begin meeting at 10am today, ministry officials will stay up all night to closely monitor the situation, Chen said.

“We will have a comprehensive statement regarding the result of this year’s UN bid on Thursday morning,” Chen said.

The length of time spent debating the nation’s UN bid was considered by the DPP administration as an indication of how much the country’s efforts were valued in the international community.

The General Committee, which comprises delegates from 28 countries, will render its decision today on what will be put on the agenda for the 63rd UN General Assembly, which opened yesterday.

This year’s bid is also departs from previous efforts in other respects.

Three of Taiwan’s diplomatic allies — Nicaragua, the Solomon Islands and Honduras — are sitting on of the General Committee, the nation’s highest number of allies on the committee since 1993.

Taiwan has not been a member of the UN since 1971, after the People’s Republic of China took the China seat from the Republic of China.

Over the past 15 years, Taiwan has failed to get the General Assembly to list the issue of Taiwan’s membership on the agenda because of obstruction by Beijing.

Chen said that this year, the ministry had sent Lily Hsu (徐儷文), deputy director-general of the Department of International Organizations, and a senior ambassador to lead its lobbying team.

The team will continue to promote the bid to the very end, he said.

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