Taiwan seeks to join UN agencies, not full membership

September 17th, 2008 - 1:03 pm ICT by IANS  

Taipei, Sep 17 (DPA) Taiwan is taking a softer approach at this year’s UN General Assembly by attempting to join UN agencies instead of seeking full UN membership, a Taiwanese official said Wednesday. Taiwan faces strong opposition against its UN membership from China and it forced the island nation to change track after trying for 15 years to rejoin the international organisation.

“We are making a more pragmatic demand this year,” foreign ministry spokesperson Chen Ming-chen told DPA. “We don’t want to challenge China by seeking full UN membership, but want to join the 16 UN agencies because of concern of the livelihood of Taiwan people.”

Taiwan is hoping the UN General Committee puts the motion on the agenda for general debate during the current UN General Assembly and is arguing that it is unreasonable to exclude Taiwan from participating in UN activities.

Chen said Taiwan’s priority was joining the World Health Assembly (WHA), the annual session of the World Health Organisation (WHO), and other “non-political” agencies covering health, environment and climate issues.

Taiwan has been the seat of the Republic of China (ROC) since 1949, when the ROC government lost the Chinese Civil War and fled to Taiwan to set up its government-in-exile.

The ROC, a founding member of the UN, continued to hold China’s UN seat until 1971 when the UN expelled the ROC to accept the People’s Republic of China as the legitimate representative of China.

Taiwan launched the campaign to rejoin the UN in 1993, but has failed each year due to opposition from China and its allies.

Only 23 countries recognise Taiwan, an island with some 23 million people.

After years of strained Taipei-Beijing relations, Taiwan’s new president Ma Ying-jeou, has asked China to allow Taiwan to join international organisations, while promising not to seek independence for Taiwan during his four-year term.

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