Sun, Sep 15, 2013 - Page 3 News List

‘Guest’ status in ICAO problematic, academic says

By Chiu Yen-ling and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with Staff Writer

An Academia Sinica researcher yesterday said that the invitation of Taiwanese representatives to the 38th International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Assembly as guests rather than observers posed potential problems.

ICAO Council President Roberto Kobeh Gonzalez extended to Taiwan’s Civil Aeronautics Administration Director-General Jean Shen (沈啟) an invitation to attend the ICAO Assembly as his guest, marking the first time Taiwan has returned to the assembly since the Republic of China lost its UN seat in 1971.

The assembly, held triennially, will be hosted by Montreal from Sept. 24 to Oct. 4.

Despite the lack of consensus among ICAO members on whether Taiwan was a non-contracting state or an international organization, which is the prerequisite for observer status, the ICAO nonetheless considered it crucial that Taiwan attend the assembly for the sake of aviation safety, Shen said.

However, Academia Sinica researcher and former deputy representative to the US David Huang (黃偉峰) said in an interview yesterday that being a guest meant only that “we can attend when the host invites us, and are excluded from the assembly when not invited.”

Rebutting Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Vanessa Shih’s (史亞平) comments that the invitation extended to Taiwan more or less gave Taiwan the same status as that of an observer, Huang said that observers enjoy a legal status under the ICAO charter.

However, the position of “guest” is not mentioned within the charter, so it is not known what rights Taiwan would be afforded, Huang said.

It is not yet known whether it would benefit Taiwan that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) had set such a precedent, Huang said, adding that Taiwan should try to persuade the ICAO to write into its charter a clause that “guests” are sovereign nations who are not yet members of the organizations.

Otherwise, we are just guests that come and go depending on whether we have an invitation, Huang said.

Huang said that he was not against Taiwan negotiating with other nations to join international bodies, but added that Taiwan cannot simply be in dialogue with China.

It is our right as a sovereign nation to join international organizations, and we do not have to “negotiate” with China every time that we wish to do so, Huang said, adding that Taiwan was not a satrapy of China.

Huang’s comments on China referred to China’s Taiwan Affairs Office’s claims that it did not oppose Taiwan’s joining international organizations as long as it did not cause “Two Chinas” or “One China, One Taiwan” to surface, adding that both sides of the Strait should negotiate with each other to ease concerns.

Meanwhile, the US has also made clear its intent to support Taiwan’s joining of the ICAO.

US President Barack Obama signed into law H.R. 1151 — an act concerning participation of Taiwan in the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) — and announced the US government’s full support for Taiwan’s participation in the organization in July.

Obama also issued a statement saying that Washington fully supports Taiwan becoming part of international organizations in which statehood is not a requirement for membership.

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