- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 9, 2003

GENEVA — A Taiwanese Cabinet minister, posing as a technical adviser to a nongovernmental organization, slipped into a U.N.-sponsored conference this week, where he publicly challenged a policy of excluding Taiwan from the United Nations for more than 30 years.

Tsay Ching-Yen, a Taiwanese Cabinet minister without portfolio, led a delegation of more than 50 at a Monday session of the Global E-Business Forum, which is sponsored by the 55-nation U.N. Economic Commission for Europe.

At the meeting, which involved hundreds of participants, including U.S. officials, Mr. Tsay publicly chastised China for its policy of blocking Taiwanese participation in numerous international organizations, including the United Nations.

Mr. Tsay did not identify himself as a member of Taiwan’s government.

Following the event, Taiwan’s representative office in Paris issued a statement saying: “This forum has established a successful model for Taiwan’s participation in United Nations parallel events.”

A Chinese official told The Washington Times in Geneva that “he was looking into the matter.”

The United Nations expelled the Republic of China (Taiwan) in 1971, when it formally recognized the communist government in Beijing.

China considers Taiwan a rebel province and has managed to exclude the island from international organizations for which statehood is a requirement.

Some diplomats here characterized Monday’s event and Taiwan’s subsequent statement as part of a calculated strategy to raise the stakes with China.

A diplomatic source close to the United Nations said Taiwan “was making a mistake to use the technical forum and turn it political.”

“For us, there was never a Taiwan delegation attending,” a U.N. spokesman Jean-Michel Jakobowicz.

The meeting was jointly organized by the U.N. Center for Trade Facilitation and Electronics Business and a private organization, the Asia Pacific Council for Trade Facilitation and Electronics Business (AFACT), Mr. Jakobowicz said.

The event was part of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), which has been meeting this month in an attempt to make the Internet work better in poor countries.

“To our knowledge, AFACT is an NGO accredited to WSIS,” the U.N. spokesman said.

Diplomatic sources familiar with the forum said Mr. Tsay was registered as an adviser to AFACT, based in “Taipei, Taiwan, province of China.”

The same sources said the other Taiwanese participants also registered as part of AFACT.

After the meeting, U.N. Undersecretary-General Shashi Tharoor told reporters:

“The U.N.’s position is very clear that we recognize the ‘one-China’ policy and that means that we will not seat anybody who purports to represent Taiwan as a separate state.

“An individual who happens to be based in Taiwan or of Taiwanese descent, but who is not here representing a distinct separate entity called Taiwan, would indeed have no problem attending a U.N. meeting.”

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