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The Ministry of Foreign Affairs welcomes legislation introduced by 19 lawmakers

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday welcomed a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives introduced by 19 lawmakers backing the island’s U.N. membership bid.

Significantly, all but one of the 19 were from George W. Bush’s Republican party, in a move which could anger China.

“We appreciate the support of the U.S. lawmakers for Taiwan to seek U.N. membership under the name ‘Taiwan’ and we hope that the (Bush) administration will hear their voice,” said foreign ministry acting spokeswoman Phoebe Yeh.

“The U.N. membership bid is the expectation of all Taiwanese people and this will not change the status quo. We hope to gain more support from the international community despite China’s suppression,” she said.

The bill was introduced Thursday in the House Foreign Affairs Committee by 18 Republican legislators and one Democrat, with the move led by New Jersey Republican Representative Scott Garrett, congressional records showed.

The draft resolution says Taiwan and its 23 million people deserve membership in the United Nations and that the United States should fulfill the commitment it made in the 1994 Taiwan Policy Review to more actively support Taiwan’s membership in appropriate international organizations.

It says the lack of any representation in the United Nations by Taiwan’s 23 million people has severely abridged their human rights as citizens of the world.

The move came after the chief U.S. diplomatic representative in Taiwan earlier Friday reiterated Washington’s official opposition to President Chen Shui-bian’s apparent determination to push ahead with a referendum on U.N. membership for the island under the name “Taiwan.”

The U.S. government has expressed strong opposition to the planned referendum on grounds that the apparent pursuit of a name change in the referendum makes it appear as a step toward changing the cross-Taiwan Strait status quo.

Taiwan has not been represented in the United Nations since 1971, when the Republic of China’s U.N. seat was given to the People’s Republic of China in line with U.N. Resolution 2758.

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