Taiwan to attend ICAO Assembly as 'invited guest'
By Joseph Yeh ,The China PostTAIPEI, Taiwan -- Taiwan has been invited by International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to participate at the 38th ICAO Assembly to be held in Montreal, Canada later this month, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) announced yesterday.
September 14, 2013, 12:01 am TWN
The invitation was given by ICAO Council President Roberto Kobeh Gonzalez to Taiwan's Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA, 民航局) Director-General Shen Chi (沈啟), Vice Foreign Minister Vanessa Shih (史亞平) added.
Shen will lead a delegation to attend the triennial ICAO assembly on Sept. 24-Oct. 4 as “invited guests” of the ICAO Council president, using the title “Chinese Taipei,” she noted.
“This is a major breakthrough for Republic of China (Taiwan) after it lost its seat in the United Nations in 1971,” Shih noted.
Taiwan was no longer been able to join in any U.N. activities until 2009 when Taiwan was granted observer status by the World Health Organisation (WHO) with the official title of “Chinese Taipei” in the 62nd World Health Assembly, she said.
This is the first time that the ICAO, a specialized agency under the U.N., has invited Taiwan to take part in its activities, marking a step forward in Taiwan's bid for meaningful participation in the international body, Shih said.
Guest, not Observer
hih said that the administration has been pushing for meaningful participation in the ICAO since 2009, adding that Taiwan's ultimate goal was to be awarded observer status by the ICAO and to attend this year's general assembly.
But receiving the ICAO invitation as a guest is an equally acceptable way for Taiwan to meaningfully participate in the global aviation body, she said.
Taiwan appreciates the flexibility and support demonstrated by the ICAO in doing so because this is the first time the international aviation body has issued an invitation to any country in the world to participate its assembly as a special guest, she said.
According to ICAO regulations, all ICAO members have to reach a consensus to allow a non-U.N. member, such as Taiwan, to participate as an observer, she said, which is highly unlikely to happen this year.
So, MOFA decided to accept the invitation as a guest to keep abreast of the latest developments in international civil aviation services and share Taiwan's experience in aviation in the international community, she said.
“We will continue to push for Taiwan's ultimate participation in ICAO-organized events and activities as an observer,” she said.
Chinese Good Will
Shih added that there were three reasons for the successful bid to participate in the ICAO.
First, both ruling and the opposition groups have worked together to achieve the goal; second, the thawing of cross-strait ties also gave the nation a better chance to be permitted to attend; third, the international community voiced support for Taiwan's participation.
During a meeting between former Vice President Lien Chan (連戰) and former Chinese leader Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) in September 2012, Hu promised that Beijing would “seriously consider” the possibility of supporting Taipei's participation in the ICAO in an appropriate fashion, she pointed out.
The ICAO is a specialized agency under the U.N. that codifies the principles and techniques of international air navigation and that fosters the planning and development of international air transport to ensure safe and orderly growth.