A visiting UK lawmaker on Saturday voiced support for Taiwan’s participation in the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Assembly, saying that political considerations should not get in the way of global aviation safety.
Nigel Evans, a member of the UK House of Commons and cochair of the British-Taiwanese All-Party Parliamentary Group, said “it is incredibly regrettable” that Taiwan was not invited to attend the year’s assembly.
The ICAO is a UN specialized agency responsible for establishing worldwide aviation policies. The session of the ICAO’s 39th assembly, which is being held at its headquarters in Montreal, started on Tuesday last week and runs through Friday.
The assembly, the ICAO’s sovereign body, meets once every three years to establish worldwide aviation policies for the following three years.
Despite its efforts to participate in this year’s ICAO assembly, Taiwan — which is not an ICAO member — was not invited to the event. It is widely believed that this was due to objections from Beijing.
Evans said that he was “greatly disappointed” that Taiwan is not being represented at the ongoing ICAO conference in Canada.
He said that the UK, France, Germany and the US all supported Taiwan’s participation in the ICAO.
“It is incredibly regrettable” that the ICAO has decided not to invite Taiwan, he said.
Asked how the UK parliament would help Taiwan with its ICAO bid, he said he will be raising the issue of Taiwan’s participation in the ICAO with British Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling.
Evans, who was leading a British parliamentary delegation to Taiwan from Monday last week to yesterday, said he wants to know why Taiwan was not invited this year.
A big question would be what is the difference between this year and 2013, when Taiwan was invited to attend the assembly, he said.
In his view, the only difference would be that there are “far more aircraft and passengers” flying into and through Taiwan’s airspace than in 2013, he said.
“It is more important today than it was three years ago that Taiwan participates in this aviation conference,” he said.
Just days before the assembly opened, Taiwan expressed regret that it had not been invited to attend this year’s meeting.
It is widely believed that China, one of the ICAO’s 191 members, blocked Taiwan’s attendance at the assembly because its Democratic Progressive Party government has refused to recognize the so-called “1992 consensus.”
The “1992 consensus” refers to a tacit understanding between the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and Beijing that both sides of the Taiwan Strait acknowledge that there is “one China,” with each side having its own interpretation of what “China” means. Former Mainland Affairs Council chairman Su Chi (蘇起) said in 2006 that he had made up the term in 2000.
Evans said that “any artificial political considerations” should not be allowed to get in the way of efforts to maintain aviation safety around the world.
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