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U.S. speaks up for Taiwan's participation at ICAO assembly

2022-09-29
Focus Taiwan
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People attend a rally in Montreal, calling for the inclusion of Taiwan in ICAO on Tuesday. CNA photo, Sept. 28, 2022
People attend a rally in Montreal, calling for the inclusion of Taiwan in ICAO on Tuesday. CNA photo, Sept. 28, 2022

Montreal, Sept. 27 (CNA) The United States called for Taiwan's inclusion in the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) on the opening day of the United Nations agency's triennial assembly that kicked off in Montreal on Tuesday.

"We believe that all of international civil aviation's most important stakeholders, particularly those who would administer critical aerospace, like Taiwan, should have the opportunity to participate meaningfully in ICAO's work," Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg said in a speech at the session.

Meanwhile, Stefan Schnorr, state secretary of the German Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport, called on ICAO to include all parties involved, including those that are not ICAO members, to ICAO, though he did not mention the name Taiwan.

"We need to ensure aviation safety, security, and facilitation as the main strategic objectives of ICAO by working closely together with all relevant partners, including cooperation with aviation nations and territories that are not members of ICAO," he said.

Even though the German official did not specifically name Taiwan in his speech, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said in a statement that Germany and the U.S. were the only two countries to speak up for Taiwan on the first day of the assembly that runs until Oct. 7.

ICAO is a specialized United Nations agency, and because Taiwan, officially named the Republic of China, has not been a U.N. member since losing its seat to the People's Republic of China in 1971, it has been unable to attend ICAO gatherings for many years.

Taiwan last attended the event in 2013 as a guest of ICAO Council's president, the first time that representatives from Taiwan had attended the gathering in 42 years, due to warming ties between Taiwan and China under the previous Kuomintang (KMT) administration.

But it has not been invited to the three meetings that have occurred, including this year's, since President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) of the Democratic Progressive Party took office in 2016 and relations with China began to deteriorate.

The lack of a direct communication channel with ICAO meant that Taiwan aviation authorities could only rely on talking directly to nearby flight information regions belonging to Japan and the Philippines to make the proper arrangements for safety reasons, Lin said.

To make clear Taiwan's stance despite not being invited, CAA Deputy Director-General Lin Jiunn-liang (林俊良) has led a delegation to Montreal to attend a number of side events held by Taiwan's representative office in Canada to promote Taiwan's inclusion in ICAO.

Meanwhile, around 100 overseas Taiwanese and Taiwan supporters held banners outside ICAO headquarters on Tuesday in calling for Taiwan's inclusion to the organization.

Taiwan's government has argued that the Taipei Flight Information Region (FIR) is one of the busiest routes in the world and that Taiwan urgently needs to establish direct communication channels with ICAO and have access to the latest rules and regulations to safeguard air transportation safety.

One example of that was when Beijing launched an unprecedented set of live-fire military drills in six maritime zones encircling Taiwan in early August, Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) Director-General Lin Kuo-shian (林國顯) said at a press conference last week.

China's military conducted naval and aerial drills from Aug. 4 to 7 and fired multiple ballistic missiles into waters near Taiwan in retaliation for U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's 19-hour visit to Taiwan that ended on Aug. 3.

Due to the last-minute announcement of the drills, hundreds of passenger flights which flew into or near Taiwan's vicinity were asked to take different routes or canceled, according to Lin.

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