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UN Rejects Taiwan's Application for Membership


The United Nations has rejected Taiwan's latest bid for membership, saying that a 1971 resolution recognizes Beijing - not Taipei - as China's representative to the world body. Andrew Ryan has more on this story from Taipei.

Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian on Tuesday spoke out against the United Nations' latest rejection of the island's bid for membership.

Mr. Chen says the Taiwan government believes that only the U.N. Security Council and the General Assembly have the right to decide on the application of the 23 million people of Taiwan to join the United Nations under the name "Taiwan." He says that no individual, including the office of the secretary-general, has the right to decide on Taiwan's application.

The secretary-general's office returned the application without having it discussed by the General Assembly. The secretary-general's staff says that, under a 1971 resolution, which granted Beijing membership, Taiwan cannot have separate membership.

A spokesman for Taiwan's Foreign Ministry, David Wang, spoke against the U.N.'s rejection on Tuesday.

"Of course we feel very regrettable that [the] U.N. turned down Taiwan's application," he said. "We are fighting the resolution. In our view, the resolution is outdated because it only discussed the admittance of the PRC [People's Republic of China] to the U.N., but nothing about Taiwan. So, in this global village, we think it's about time to review the whole situation."

Taiwan has applied for membership - and has been rejected - every year since 1993. But this year, for the first time, Taipei applied for membership under the name "Taiwan." Past bids were under the island's official name - the "Republic of China".

Despite the frustration at the rejection, the Foreign Ministry's Wang says it was no surprise, and that it will not be the last attempt.

"We understand pretty well that the road to membership is, you know, long and arduous," said Wang. "But still, if we don't do it today, sooner or later we have to face it. And what we [are] concerned is, if it's the right thing to do, its better to do it earlier than later."

China claims the self-governed island as its territory and slammed the U.N. application, saying that President Chen is trying to split the nation. Beijing has vowed to retake Taiwan by force if its government tries to declare formal independence.

Taipei had U.N. membership until 1971, when the seat was handed over to Beijing. Since then, the Beijing government has worked hard to diplomatically isolate Taiwan. Just over 20, mostly small, nations have full diplomatic ties with Taipei.