Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Taiwan striving for more UN participation

This year - unlike the last 16 years - Taiwan’s allies did not submit a proposal to the General Assembly on September 15th to let Taiwan join the United Nations (UN). Although the island has not given up the idea of being a part of the UN, the friendlier atmosphere across the Taiwan Strait has enabled Taiwan to take a different approach.

Since 1993, Taipei has tried hard to regain its seat at the UN, a seat taken by Beijing in 1971. Although the previous administration pushed hard to enter the UN under the name “Taiwan,” China’s strong opposition blocked off any possibility of success. However, when President Ma Ying-jeou assumed office back in May 2008, he declared a “diplomatic truce” with China. With a friendlier atmosphere across the Taiwan Strait, Taiwan’s health minister was allowed to take part in the World Health Assembly (WHA) held in Geneva this past May.

Despite participating in the WHA, there are still many UN-affiliated organizations that are closed to Taiwan. This is something Taiwan hopes to change. Last month, Taiwan’s Foreign Minister Timothy Chin-tien Yang announced that Taiwan would seek to join the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The administration focused on these two organizations feeling they could best bring benefits for Taiwan’s people.

Last year, over 35 million passengers flew in and out of Taiwan, making it one of the busiest airspaces in Asia. The Taipei Flight Information Region (FIR) regulates 1.35 million flights and 12 international flight routes. Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport is the 15th largest airport in the world. Given this large volume, being a member or observer of the ICAO would potentially improve Taiwan’s air safety.

In 2007, Taiwan was ranked as the 22nd largest carbon dioxide emitter in the world. Even as a non-member of the “Kyoto Protocol,” Taiwan seeks to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions, promising to reduce emissions to the 2008 level by 2016-2020, and lower still to the 2000 level by 2025. Despite these pledges, Taiwan is at a significant disadvantage to similarly developed states such as South Korea and Singapore as the island is excluded from direct negotiations with “Kyoto Protocol” signatories. As a World Trade Organization member, Taiwan will be forced by other member states to pay higher environmental protection taxes on its exports.

By joining the UNFCCC, Taiwan would be able to participate in talks, allowing it to seek reasonable carbon dioxide emission conditions. Taiwan’s participation would also allow the island to fight global climate changes under the framework of the UNFCCC.

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About Me

The Press Division of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in San Francisco represents the Government Information Office (GIO), Executive Yuan, Republic of China (Taiwan). GIO maintains nine Press Divisions in the United States, including the San Francisco office. The Press Divisions are in charge of promoting Taiwan's public relations and cultural exchanges. This blog is updated by the Press Division, TECO in San Francisco.