US’ Dole pushes for ICAO observer status

By William Lowther  /  Staff reporter in WASHINGTON

Sat, Sep 07, 2013 - Page 3

A former US presidential nominee is calling for Taiwan to be given observer status when the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) holds its triennial Assembly later this month.

“China’s blocking of Taiwanese status in ICAO carries Beijing’s non-recognition policy past the point of absurdity,” Republican Bob Dole said.

Earlier this summer, the US Congress passed a bill directing US Secretary of State John Kerry to develop a strategy to obtain observer status for Taiwan.

Sources say that details of that strategy are contained in a report submitted last month and due to be considered next week when Congress returns from recess.

The ICAO’s 38th session is to be held from Sept. 24 to Oct. 4 in Montreal, Canada, with 191 member states and tens of international organizations attending.

“Taiwan has no status in the organization because China is able to bar its participation, just as it does in the United Nations and many other international organizations,” Dole wrote in an article published in the Washington Times.

He appealed for the political and legal issue of sovereignty and diplomatic recognition to be put aside.

The airspace under Taiwan’s control covers 180,000 square miles (466,198 square kilometers) and Taipei provides air-traffic control services to approximately 1.2 million flights annually, Dole said, who once served as US Senate majority leader. Each year 40 million passengers pass through this zone and Taipei’s airport is one of the 10 largest cargo and 20 largest passenger airports in the world, he said.

“None of this can safely be ignored, nor should it be brushed under the rug for political reasons,” Dole said.

“What Taiwan’s attainment of observer status in the ICAO means in all of this is painfully obvious — namely, increased safety and reliable air service for passengers and cargo,” Dole said.

He said that observer status would enable Taiwan to maintain up-to-date aviation practices with greater efficiency, quickly secure time-sensitive amendments to organization regulations, and prepare more ably for implementation of new organization systems and procedures.

As with the WHO to which Taiwan was admitted as an observer in 2009, mechanisms are already in place in the ICAO to allow non-contracting countries such as Taiwan to be accredited.

“Congress is right to call upon the administration to correct this potentially dangerous wrong at the next triennial ICAO assembly,” Dole said. “Once in a great while, diplomacy and statecraft present apparent dilemmas that are, in fact, no-brainers and this is one of them.”

Earlier in the week, the Washington-based political publication the Hill carried an op-ed by the advisory commissioner for the Overseas Chinese Affairs Council of the Republic of China (Taiwan) in the US, Kent Wang, also calling for the nation to be given observer status.

“Since Taiwan’s participation in international organizations hinges on China’s amity, I strongly urge that China not block Taiwan’s attempt to participate in a non-political body like the ICAO, since statehood is not a requirement,” Wang wrote.