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US Senate passes resolution backing Taiwan's ICAO bid

WASHINGTON--The U.S. Senate unanimously passed a resolution Wednesday in support of Taiwan's observer status in the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), to enable it to play a part in maintaining global air transport security.

This was the first time the Senate passed a resolution to support Taiwan's participation in the ICAO, Taiwan's representative office in the United States said.

The resolution, initiated by Senator Robert Menendez (Democrat-New Jersey), who concurrently serves as a co-chair of the Senate Taiwan Caucus, stated that Taiwan's participation in the ICAO will contribute to “the success of a global strategy to address aviation security threats based on effective international cooperation.”

“The United States government should take a leading role in garnering international support for the granting of observer status to Taiwan in the ICAO for the purpose of such participation,” it read.

The Taipei Flight Information Region, under the jurisdiction of Taiwan, covers 176,000 square nautical miles of airspace and offers air traffic control services to more than 1.35 million flights every year, the resolution said.

In addition, it pointed out that the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport is the world's 8th and 18th largest airport by international cargo volume and by number of international passengers, respectively.

Excluding Taiwan from the ICAO has prevented the organization from developing a truly global strategy to address security threats, the resolution stated.

Taiwan will still need the approval of other member countries in the ICAO in order to gain observer status.

The last time the Senate took a stand on Taiwan's participation in the international community was back in 2004, when U.S. senators passed a resolution backing Taiwan's participation in the World Health Assembly — the decision making arm of the World Health Organization — as an observer, the representative office said.

The Senate's decision, however, followed a U.S. announcement on Wednesday that it will only upgrade Taiwan's existing F-16 fighter jets, rather than sell more advanced F-16 fighters to the island. The decision is widely seen as an attempt to avoid angering Beijing, which opposes all arms sales to Taiwan.

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