As the UN General Assembly opened its annual meeting in New York this week, Republican Congressman Scott Garrett introduced a new resolution on Capitol Hill calling for Taiwan’s full membership in the international organization.
Garrett’s bill, cosponsored by fellow Republicans John Duncan, Mike Coffman and Walter Jones, is likely to win widespread support in the House of Representatives, but unlikely to have anything but symbolic impact.
“The people of Taiwan and their freely elected government continue to be ignored by the United Nations,” Garrett said.
“Not only is this continued ignorance clearly counter to the lofty goals of the United Nations, it is also dangerous. Because of Taiwan’s difficulties in gaining recognition with the world body, they have been excluded from many of the World Health Organization’s structures to prevent the international spread of disease,” he said.
Bob Yang, president of the Formosan Association for Public Affairs, said: “Taiwan’s full and equal membership in the United Nations and other international organizations is long overdue.”
The move came as China announced that Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (溫家寶) would meet US President Barack Obama for a private meeting on the fringe of the General Assembly next week.
“The meeting comes amid a push to repair relations stressed by disagreements over everything from trade policy to arms sales to Taiwan,” the Associated Press reported.
A US diplomatic source confirmed that Wen would “almost certainly” call for an end to US arms sales to Taiwan and that Obama would refuse to give any assurances.
It has been reported that while relations between China and the US soured earlier this year over arms sales to Taiwan, they have improved recently following high-level meetings between the two sides.
Earlier this week, the US State Department released a speech made in Geneva by US Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg in which he said that building a relationship with China should not cause the US to shy away from pressing in areas of important differences.
“It is vital that China restores the military-to-military dialogue with us. This should not be a bargaining chip. It builds trust, prevents miscalculation and lets both sides address our disagreements,” he said.
While Steinberg did not directly mention Taiwan, it was a significant background factor.
China has agreed to restore military-to-military relations — broken off in February after Obama announced new arms sales to Taiwan, but many experts believe that Beijing will break them off again if the US agrees to sell more arms to Taiwan.
Meanwhile, Taiwan’s representative to the EU and Belgium told the European Parliament in a speech on Wednesday that Taiwan was seeking to participate in international organizations and contribute to the international community.
David Lin (林永樂) said in his speech that the country had listed entry to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) among its primary goals.
Although Taiwan has been invited to attend the World Health Assembly as an observer since last year, it is still excluded from other international organizations, Lin said.
Describing Taiwan’s request to join the organizations as “reasonable,” Lin called on major players, such as the US, Japan and the EU, to speak out in support of Taiwan’s participation.