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UN 2003 Campaign

Jun 19, 2003 20:33 UTC+0800

New York, June 18 (CNA) The United Nations Correspondents Association (UNCA) sponsored a seminar on the Taiwan issue Wednesday, presided over by UNCA President Tony Jenkins.

Nancy Soderberg, vice president of International Crisis Group, and Chen Lung-chih, an international law professor at New York Law School, were invited to analyze the Taiwan issue from the legal and political perspectives.

Journalists and foreign ambassadors stationed at U.N. headquarters were free to ask questions or express their own views at the seminar.

Jenkins said in his opening remarks that the seminar was not designed to challenge U.N. Resolution No. 2758, which gave the China seat to the People's Republic of China at the expense of the Republic of China in 1971. The seminar was neither a diplomatic nor a political event, but was aimed at exchanging views and enhancing the transparency of international affairs, Jenkins added.

Soderberg said her company does not have a specific stance toward Taiwan and hopes only that the two sides of the Taiwan Strait can peacefully settle their disputes.

In her view, Soderberg said, there exists a potential risk of cross-strait conflict and global society should help reduce this risk.

Over the past decade, she claimed, support for the "one China" concept has been eroded steadily among the people of Taiwan. However, she went on, this fundamental change has seldom been noticed by the world. Worse still, she continued, the two sides of the Taiwan Strait have become more uncompromising over the issue of national identity and sovereignty.

She claimed that both Taiwan's ruling and opposition parties consider Taiwan to be an independent sovereign county. On the other hand, she said, the PRC insists that Taiwan and the mainland belong to the same country and that if necessary, it will not hesitate to use force to realize its "vision."

Noting that Beijing's bottom line is that Taiwan must move toward peaceful unification, Soderberg said the United Sates and the two sides of the Taiwan Strait should work together to forge a mutual trust mechanism to avoid any misjudgment of the situation and any possible military conflict.

She suggested that Taiwan and the mainland increase economic exchanges, including cooperation in fishery, customs and coastal energy exploration. She further said the mainland should reduce the number of its tactical ballistic missiles deployed against Taiwan in exchange for Taiwan's cutting of its defense budget.

As for global society, Soderberg said countries around the world can support Taiwan's participation in international organizations that do not require statehood, such as the World Health Assembly -- the governing body of the World Health Organization.

For his part, Chen said that Taiwan and the mainland are two different countries and that Taiwan is not part of China. He lamented that the so-called "one China" principle has become what he called "one China extortion."

Chen claimed that the PRC has abused the "one China" principle to violate the "self-determination and peaceful solution of disputes" -- principles enshrined in the U.N. charter.

More ironically, Chen said, the "one China" principle does not comply with political reality. Now is the time to undo this "mantra," Chen said, adding that "one Taiwan, one China" is the best replacement.

Chen said that allowing Taiwan into international organizations would be a constructive step toward the establishment of a world order of peace and justice.

He reminded the audience that Washington's "one China" policy is based on a premise, namely, the future of Taiwan must be resolved through peaceful means.

In implementing its "one China" policy, Chen said, the United States should stress the Taiwan Relations Act -- the U.S. law that regulates U.S. relations with Taiwan in the absence of formal diplomatic ties.

Chen further said that Taiwan's assertion of its basic rights should not be regarded as a provocative act.

The UNCA decided to organize the seminar after mainland China's political maneuvering in late May led to the disruption of a press briefing by Andrew Hsia, director-general of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in New York, who was due to speak to the UNCA about the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) crisis and Taiwan's efforts to work with the World Health Organization.

In a letter to Wang Yingfan, the PRC's permanent representative to the U.N., the UNCA said it would organize a panel discussion on the future of Taiwan and its legal status, "with speakers from all shades of opinion."

(By S.C. Chang and Sofia Wu)

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