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New York rally for United Nations bid draws record numbers

NEW YORK -- A record number of more than 3,000 Taiwanese expatriates living in the United States attended a rally outside the U.N. headquarters in New York City Saturday to promote Taiwan's bid to join the United Nations under the name Taiwan.

The rally, organized jointly by the Taiwan-based United Nations for Taiwan Alliance and the New York-based Committee for Admission of Taiwan to the United Nations, was linked via satellite to a mass rally simultaneously held in the southern Taiwan port city of Kaohsiung.

Despite morning drizzle, expatriates from eastern and central parts of the United States flocked to Dag Hammarskjod Plaza outside the U.N. headquarters to attend the rally. The number of participants was the largest since the annual promotional rally was first organized more than a decade ago, organizers said.

Government Information Office Minister Shieh Jhy-wey traveled to New York to moderate the rally with Hsu Po-cheng, president of the Taiwanese Association of America's Greater New York Chapter.

The statue of Matsu — the Chinese goddess of sea — from Fengtien Temple in Hsinkang township in the southern county of Chiayi, which was flown to New York City Thursday, was also included in the gathering, escorted by Chiayi Magistrate Chen Min-wen. It marked the first time the religious institution has joined in the country's campaign for U.N. membership.

Lai Hong-tien, one of the organizers of the N.Y. rally, said this year's campaign was the first one to be co-organized by the government and civic groups to promote Taiwan's U.N. membership under the name of Taiwan.

Besides Taiwanese expatriates residing in the greater New York and New Jersey areas, many others traveled from Washington D.C., Connecticut, Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago, Kentucky and Montreal, Canada to attend the rally.

Meanwhile, Scott Garretta, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Nauru's Ambassador to the United Nations Marlene Moses, Tuvalu's Ambassador to the U.N. Afelee Pita, and Ian George Williams, a former president of the U.N. Correspondents Association also turned up at the rally and voiced their support for Taiwan.

Following the gathering, participants marched toward the Chinese Consulate-General in New York and chanted slogans urging China to stop blocking Taiwan's U.N. bid.

The 62nd U.N. General Assembly is scheduled to open Sept. 18. A total of 16 of Taiwan's diplomatic allies jointly submitted a proposal to U.N. authorities on Aug. 14 requesting that the U.N. process Taiwan's membership application. The General Committee is expected to meet Sept. 19 to discuss whether to include Taiwan's membership bid into the General Assembly agenda.

Taiwan has tried without success since 1993 to obtain U.N. representation. China consistently used its clout to bar the General Committee from including the application into the General Assembly agenda. This year marks the first time that it seeks U.N. seat under the name Taiwan.

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