It has been revealed that renowned professor of acupuncture Lin Jaung-geng (林昭庚) would have become the first Taiwanese to attend an intergovernmental conference organized by UNESCO since Taiwan lost its UN seat in 1971 had host country Azerbaijan granted him a visa.
The reason Azerbaijan denied his visa request remains unclear.
According to sources, Lin wished to attend the Eighth Session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, from Dec. 2 to Dec. 8, as a representative of Taiwan, Taipei, However, the Azerbaijani government said that he be present at the meeting in an individual capacity.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed yesterday that Azerbaijan had refused to give Lin an official letter of invitation needed to apply for a visa to the country, without the reasons being disclosed.
After the request by the ministry via its overseas mission in Russia to the Azerbaijani embassy in Moscow was rejected, the ministry turned to UNESCO headquarters in Paris for help, but to no avail, a ministry official said.
UNESCO gave no explanation to the ministry for its failure to secure a letter of invitation for Lin from Azerbaijan, the official said.
If it was the case that Lin insisted on being present under the name Taiwan, Taipei, UNESCO might rather not have him attend the conference because, as a UN-affiliated agency, it would not agree to invite a representative from Taiwan to its events, another ministry official said.
Azerbaijan’s visa policy might have been another reason, another official at the ministry said.
Like some other former Soviet countries, Azerbaijan has had a policy of being strict in issuing visas to Republic of China (ROC) passport holders due to past links with the People’s Republic of China, the official said.
Lin said yesterday that UNESCO invited him in September, on the World Federation of Chinese Medicine Societies’ recommendation, to attend the conference as an academic expert without borders.
The travel agency that handled his visa application told him that he needed a passport issued by a country other than the ROC to apply for a visa, Lin said.