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Taiwan Makes 11th Bid to Join UN - 2003-08-07


For the 11th time, Taiwan is making a bid to join the United Nations. Taiwan leaders say allowing the island to join will help international peace and stability. But China's vehement opposition backed by its veto power in the Security Council is an iron-clad guarantee Taiwan's bid will fail.

Taiwan officials say the island has submitted its 11th request since 1993 to join the United Nations. 15 UN members allied with Taiwan turned in a signed petition to Secretary-General Kofi Annan endorsing Taiwan's membership.

Taiwan was expelled from the body in 1971, and its seat was given to the People's Republic of China, or PRC in mainland China.

Professor Lo Chi-cheng, head of the Institute for National Policy Research in Taiwan, says regaining UN membership is something the island's people care about.

"There's a strong will of the people in Taiwan that Taiwan should be recognized as a democratic society, a democratic country," said Mr. Lo.

Mainland China has consistently blocked every attempt by Taiwan to join international organizations. Beijing views Taiwan as part of its territory and says the island has no right to take part in international organizations reserved for sovereign states.

As a permanent member of the UN Security Council, Beijing has veto power over Taiwan's membership, making it virtually impossible for the bid to succeed.

Professor Lo takes a long-range view on the issue, and points out that it took Beijing 20 years to get in.

"I don't think even the government or the people will think that it would be possible in a year, or in two years, or even in 10 years. But at least it's a legitimate goal for the Taiwan government, for the Taiwan people."

Professor Timothy Wong, of the Hong Kong Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies, says Taiwan's ruling Democratic Progressive Party, or DPP, has a lot to gain politically by backing UN membership.

"What this means is that the DPP is fighting for Taiwan sovereignty status, fighting for Taiwan's national interest, and that will entertain the general public locally," said Mr. Wong.

Many experts say that while this 11th attempt to join the United Nations is doomed to fail, public sentiment in Taiwan ensures there will be a 12th attempt next year.

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