Tue, Mar 17, 2015 - Page 3 News List

Lawmakers question foreign minister over denial of entry to UN convention

By Steve Tsao, Chen Hui-ping and Chen Wei-han  /  Staff reporters, with staff writer

The nation’s diplomatic isolation was spotlighted in the legislature yesterday, as lawmakers voiced concern over a Taiwanese woman being denied entry to a UN-affiliated convention last week because she presented a Republic of China (ROC) passport.

Lawmakers grilled Minister of Foreign Affairs David Lin (林永樂) about the ministry’s response.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Department of Women’s Development director Lin Ching-yi (林靜儀) had been invited to attend a conference held by the UN Commission on the Status of Women.

However, she said that when she presented her passport for identification, a commission staff member told her: “Taiwan passport holders cannot enter. It is policy.”

Legislators across party lines raised concerns about the nation’s foreign relations, citing the government’s failed attempts to regain a seat in the UN and China’s efforts to diplomatically isolate Taiwan, including instances where the official names of Taiwanese non-governmental organizations have been rewritten to include the word “China.”

DPP Legislator Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯) said that Lin Ching-yi had not been invited to the conference as an official delegate, but the commission denied her entry anyway.

He called on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to boost its efforts to raise Taiwan’s international profile and gain diplomatic recognition from more countries.

People First Party Legislator Thomas Lee (李桐豪) asked why Lin Ching-yi was refused entry, saying that Control Yuan President Chang Po-ya (張博雅) was able to attend a UN conference using his ROC passport, although that happened a long time ago.

David Lin told lawmakers that China has used its influence in the UN to bar Taiwanese from participating in UN affairs for the past nine years, adding that Taiwanese have to present both their passport and national health insurance card to be accepted to a non-governmental organization convention.

Such bans have become more common after China gained more important positions at the UN and its people changed the rules, the minister said.

The ministry had lodged complaints against China’s actions via the US and Taiwan’s diplomatic allies, as it is “utterly unreasonable” to boycott Taiwanese participation in the activities of UN-affiliated non-governmental organizations, the minister said.

He called on Chinese authorities to stop doing things that “hurt the feelings of Taiwanese.”

Lin Ching-yi said that when she was preparing her application for a commission meeting four years ago, she was told that Taiwanese could not attend the meetings even if they had made outstanding achievements in gender issues.

An international non-governmental organization helped her file an application and secure an invitation for this year’s event, but she was still refused entry, she said.

It was ironic that she was discriminated against simply because of her nationality by an organization that promotes the elimination of gender inequality, she said.

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