Sep 06, 2006

Taiwan: Taiwanese-American Groups Join Forces for UN Bid

Fifty-six organizations representing an estimated 100,000 Taiwanese living in the US are backing plans to join the world body under the name `Taiwan'

Dozens of Taiwanese-American organizations have joined forces to support President Chen Shui-bian's plan to apply for UN membership under the name of Taiwan, in preparation for next month's session of the UN General Assembly, at which the nation will be making its 14th consecutive bid to gain membership in the global organization.

"Taiwan is a peace-loving country willing and able to carry out the requisite obligations contained in the UN Charter," the groups said in a letter that was sent to Chen on Tuesday.

"The 23 million people of Taiwan deserve to be represented in this world body," the letter states.

The letter was signed by 56 organizations which represent, according to estimates by an adviser to the Formosan Association for Public Affairs (FAPA), one of the lead associations involved, as many as 100,000 Taiwanese-Americans.

It comes just two weeks before the start of the 61st annual session of the General Assembly on Sept. 12, where two Taiwan-related resolutions have been introduced by nations friendly to Taiwan, seeking to convince the world body to accept the country into its membership.

The letter said that Chen had stated in his Lunar New Year address this year that the nation should seriously consider using the name Taiwan to apply for UN membership, and that he on Aug. 19 announced his intention to proceed along these lines.

"We congratulate you on your unambiguous and courageous goal," the letter said.

Foreign Affairs Minister James Huang said yesterday that while it would be a breakthrough to apply under the name of Taiwan, he nonetheless had some reservations about the strategy.

Delivering a report to the Central Standing Committee of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) on the latest bid for UN membership, Huang said that this year's proposal referred to the country as the "Republic of China (Taiwan)" in the first instance, and thereafter only as "Taiwan."

The proposal addresses the question of the representation and participation of the 23 million people of Taiwan in the UN and requests the inclusion of Taiwan's membership bid as a supplementary item to the agenda of the upcoming session of the General Assembly, he said.

A second proposal, which has been termed the "peace proposal," was also launched, asking the UN to take a more proactive role in maintaining peace and security in East Asia.

Huang said that this diplomatic strategy highlighted Taiwan's sovereignty and was likely to gain the attention of the international media.

However, Huang said that the strategy might be interpreted as a political one and could upset the US or the nation's friends in Europe.

"Therefore, Taiwan's relationship with the US is the major consideration of this new strategy, and the US' relationship with China is the key," Huang said.

Considering the lack of consensus and the US' attitude, Huang said that the two new proposals might have a limited effect.

"In terms of the overall situation, this strategy seems not to be favorable to us," Huang said.

He said that the nation had to come up with new diplomatic initiatives and utilize its advantages such as democracy, advanced technological capabilities, international aid operations and solid education system to help promote diplomatic relations with other countries.

Supporters of Taiwan are planning a series of events in Washington and New York in the runup to the Sept. 12 start of the General Assembly session.

On Sept. 9, Taiwanese Presbyterians will meet at the nation's Washington mansion, Twin Oaks, for a gathering headed by the Reverend William Lo, the former secretary-general of the Taiwan Presbyterian Church, to promote Taiwan's entry into the UN. The gathering is being described as a concert and prayer meeting to promote the membership issue.

On Sept. 11 in New York, several hundred Taiwanese-Americans -- including Aborigines -- and their friends plan to demonstrate in front of the UN building for Taiwan's entry. And the next day, in Dag Hammarskjold Plaza at the UN, demonstrators will protest Taiwan's exclusion from the world body and urge the General Assembly to approve the pro-Taiwan resolutions.

The resolution, titled "The Question of the Representation and Participation of the 23 million People of Taiwan in the United Nations," was sent to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Aug. 10. It was accompanied by a letter signed by 16 countries that recognize Taiwan urging the secretary-general to introduce and support the resolution.

Fourteen of Taiwan's allies in the UN have also sent a letter to Annan urging the adoption of the resolution on East-Asian security, calling it a "peace proposal."

In previous years, such resolutions dealt specifically with peace in the Taiwan Strait, but the idea was expanded this year to cover the entire region. The UN secretariat had the two resolutions translated into six languagues: English, Chinese, French, Spanish, Russian and Arabic.