Taiwan: Protesting U.N. Exclusion
Taiwan will protest against the exclusion of a delegate from the opening ceremony of a United Nations-sponsored digital library in Paris, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday [22 April 2009].
The delegate, National Central Library Director-General Karl Min Ku, was refused entrance to Tuesday's [21 April 2009] event at the headquarters of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization in the French capital even though his library served as a partner in the project being celebrated, MOFA spokesman Henry Chen said.
The refusal to allow Ku in was probably caused by him showing a Taiwanese passport, Chen said. He called the treatment of the library official "unfair." Since Taiwan is not a member of the United Nations, pressure from China is believed to be behind many attempts to keep the country and its representatives out of international events.
Taiwan's representative office in Paris will lodge a protest with UNESCO and continue to strive for equitable treatment, Chen told reporters. The world body should guarantee the right of Taiwanese citizens to attend international events.
The spokesman said the National Library had mediated with UNESCO through the United States Library of Congress, and a staff member of Taiwan's Paris office accompanied Ku to the scene, but he was still barred from participating.
"The Ministry of Foreign Affairs regrets that Taiwanese members of the public should encounter difficulties when attending non-political international events," Chen said.
The World Digital Library is a website providing free access to rare books, manuscripts, maps, audio and video materials from libraries and archives around the world. Taiwan's National Central Library is one of 32 institutions contributing to the project.
Taiwan has tried for almost two decades to become a member of the United Nations, but opposition from China and the lack of sufficient support derailed each attempt. The country relies mostly on its diplomatic allies to put forward the annual motion for U.N. participation ahead of the General Assembly meeting each September.
Last year, the administration of President Ma Ying-jeou toned down the visibility of Taiwan's bid by only applying for participation in minor U.N.-affiliated organizations, but the attempt still failed. MOFA has not yet revealed which approach it will take for this year's bid in September .