Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) yesterday defended the city’s long-running efforts to be listed as a “city of gastronomy” by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), even though Taiwan is not a UN member, saying the effort would not hurt the nation’s sovereignty.
The city government applied two years ago for UNESCO to list Taipei as a city of gastronomy as part of its efforts to promote the capital’s diverse food culture.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Taipei City councilors Wu Su-yao (吳思瑤) and Liang Wen-jie (梁文傑) accused the city government of wasting NT$15 million (US$510,000) on the application, which could be rejected or end up being sent to China’s UNESCO committee for review.
“Taipei City is not qualified to apply to be listed in the project, and we warned the city government about China’s possible involvement, as it could take the opportunity to claim sovereignty over Taiwan. We don’t understand why the city government went ahead with a plan that is doomed to fail,” Wu said.
UNESCO launched a project in 2004 called the Creative Cities Network to promote the development of literature, design, gastronomy and the film industry in cities around the world.
When a city applies to be listed in the project, UNESCO sends the application to the UNESCO National Committee of the country where the city is located to be approved. For example, when Chengdu, the capital of China’s Sichuan Province, applied to be listed as a city of gastronomy, the application was approved by the UNESCO office in China.
Hau said that Taipei submitted the application under the title Taipei City, which would not diminish Taiwan’s national sovereignty. He cited the Taipei Baoan Temple — which was given a UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage Award for Culture Heritage Conservation in 2003 — and said the city will continue its food promotion efforts.
“The application will not affect the nation’s sovereignty, and it is part of our continuous effort to promote the city’s food culture to the world,” he said.
The city’s Department of Economic Development said it has not heard back from UNESCO about the application. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs told the department earlier this year that the application could be rejected or sent to China’s committee for review.
The department said it would discuss the issue with the ministry and continue to study the UNESCO filing. However, it said the NT$15 million was used to hold both local and international activities to promote Taiwanese delicacies.