Fri, Jan 01, 2010 - Page 3 News List

Pressure on our NGOs unrelated to ‘truce’: MOFA

SINGLED OUT More than 10 Taiwanese NGOs faced pressure from China or from their international headquarters to change their names or locations

By Jenny W. Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

A number of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) faced heavy pressure from China this year to change their names, but the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) yesterday said this was unrelated to President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) call for a “diplomatic truce” with Beijing.

NGO Affairs Committee Vice Chairman David Wu (吳建國) yesterday said more than 10 Taiwanese NGOs faced stiff pressure — either directly from China or from the NGO’s international headquarters — to change their names or registered location to “Taiwan, China” or other options more palatable to Beijing.

The number of incidents “decreased slightly” from a year earlier, Wu said. When asked by the Taipei Times for exact figures, however, he declined to answer and said “numbers are meaningless.”

Wu named as an example the Internet Society Taiwan Chapter, which was asked by the NGOs headquarters to change its location to “Taiwan, China.” The Taiwan chapter has not complied.

Taiwan and China are still negotiating over the problem and the headquarters has responded positively toward Taiwan’s case, Wu said.

Wu said Taiwan’s avid participation in international NGOs ensured its involvement in various humanitarian efforts and allowed the nation to contribute to solving global problems.

Taiwan’s status and designation in international NGOs have “far less significance” for Taiwan’s sovereignty than the country’s participation in international governmental organizations such as the World Health Assembly or the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, Wu said.

Speaking at the annual NGO Exhibit earlier this month, Ma called on Beijing to stop obstructing Taiwan’s participation in global NGOs “or else Taiwanese will have a bad impression of mainland China.”

Lawmakers across party lines have suggested the matter be included in future cross-strait negotiations, but the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) has said the timing is not ripe for such discussions because the cross-strait dialogue must focus on the economy before broaching political topics.

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