The US Senate’s Committee on Foreign Relations passed a bill directing US Secretary of State John Kerry to assist Taiwan in obtaining observer status at the next triennial International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) meeting in September, giving a major boost to the nation’s bid to participate in the organization.
The bill now goes to the Senate, where it has bipartisan support, and could become US law in the next few months. A similar bill with bipartisan support is also being reviewed by the US House of Representatives.
“It is long overdue and a matter of international aviation safety to grant Taiwan observer status at ICAO,” Senate Committee on Foreign Relations Chairman Robert Menendez said.
Senator Menendez said that since Taiwan joined the US visa waiver program last year, travel between Taiwan and the US was sure to increase and “allowing the government of Taiwan observer status at ICAO assemblies will ensure that it has access to the technical information it needs to continue to conform its civil aviation practices with evolving international safety standards.”
Objections from Beijing have in the past kept Taiwan out of the ICAO, a specialized UN agency, but China’s attitude may be softening.
Earlier this year, Taiwanese Minister of Foreign Affairs David Lin (林永樂) said that Taiwan’s participation in the organization should not be affected by “political factors.”
He said that Taiwan’s participation in the ICAO was becoming more necessary as the number of flights between Taiwan, China, Japan and Southeast Asian countries continues to increase.