Group launches bid for full Taiwan IMF membership

By William Lowther  /  Staff reporter in WASHINGTON

Sun, Jun 30, 2013 - Page 3

A campaign to make Taiwan a full member of the IMF was launched by Formosa Foundation executive director Terri Giles on Friday at a meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington to honor the 18 participants in the foundation’s 11th annual student ambassador program.

Giles said she had discussed the idea with several members of the US Congress and was optimistic that a resolution supporting full IMF participation for Taiwan would be introduced in the US House of Representatives before the year’s end.

“It is so important for the US and Taiwan to keep building and enhancing their relationship,” she said.

Giles added that Taiwan supporters in the US had to “push the envelope” because domestic and international pressures sometimes prevented Taiwanese leaders from doing it themselves.

However, she warned that Taiwanese leaders would lose US trust if they “said one thing, but did another.”

Participants in the foundation’s program — mostly Taiwanese university students — held more than 156 meetings with members of Congress and their staff at the two-week event.

“I can’t believe the amount of support for the people of Taiwan,” said Meihsing Kuo, a National Chengchi University graduate from Greater Kaohsiung.

“It was a grueling schedule, but absolutely worth it,” University of Chicago graduate student Grace Shiow said.

The Formosa Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to “promoting greater understanding of the relationship between Taiwan and the US, and preserving and enhancing democracy.”

The Ambassador Program is aimed at connecting students and young professionals with political experts and policymakers in Washington. Over the past eleven years, 260 student ambassadors have held 1,608 meetings with Congress members and staff.

“It is so important for young people to raise [their] voices in support of the US-Taiwan relationship,” US Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen said.

Talking with the young ambassadors on the Capitol steps on Friday, Ros-Lehtinen said the US and Taiwan had a “cherished partnership” based on shared values.

She said Congress had just passed a bill calling for Taiwan to be given observer status at the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) which was on its way to the White House to be signed by US President Barack Obama.

Once it is signed, US Secretary of State John Kerry is to “develop and implement” a plan for Taiwan to secure observer status at the organization.

“Taiwan is one step closer to joining the ICAO and that is a positive development for our friends,” US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations chairman Robert Menendez said.