- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 14, 2005

Taiwan tries again

Taiwan doesn’t have a chance of winning U.N. membership this year, but you have to credit the scrappy island for trying.

For the 13th year in a row, Taipei is conducting a vigorous lobbying exercise for recognition, an effort that has the formal support of 26 nations.

The effort is blocked aggressively by China, which considers Taiwan a renegade province.

Taipei occupied China’s seat at the United Nations from 1949, when Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalist Party fled the mainland, until 1971, when Beijing forced and won an accreditation vote in the General Assembly.

China has since rejected all attempts by the breakaway republic, also known as the Republic of China, to establish an independent identity.

“Such activities violated the U.N. charter and … are bound to fail,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan said Friday.

Taiwan’s allies — 26 nations that are mostly tiny and impoverished — will sponsor a second resolution this fall endorsing cross-strait cooperation.

“We think of this year as a good opportunity to mention the new theme highlighting peace,” Taiwanese Foreign Affairs Minister Mark Chen said last week in Taipei.

“We believe the situation across the Taiwan Strait should be left open for discussion by friendly interests in the international society.”

Expansion debate

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan acknowledged last week that Security Council expansion — by far the most eagerly debated aspect of U.N. reform — is unlikely to be ready in time for the September summit.

“I don’t think it’s realistic, at this stage, to assume that it could be done at the summit because there’s quite a lot of negotiations and discussions going on among the member states,” he said Thursday.

“Ideally, it should be done by September. That was my own initial recommendation. But if that were to slip, I think the member states should remain focused, determined and engaged and try to do it by the end of the year, because it is urgent.”

Mr. Annan wants to see at least a commitment at the September summit to finish the deliberations by the end of 2005, an aide said.

Mr. Annan’s remarks last week marked the first time that he has said members might not achieve his target date for negotiating an expansion of the council to 25 or 26 members from 15.

Three proposals are in circulation: one to expand the council to 25 seats with six new permanent members as proposed by Germany, Japan, India and Brazil; a similar African Union proposal that would add six members with veto power and give Africa a voice; and a “Uniting for Consensus” draft backed by developing countries that would add 10 rotating members.

Backers of the first two proposals have talked about joining forces but have not reached an agreement. Germany and Japan both hold elections next month, as is Egypt, which aspires to a permanent seat from Africa.

Mr. Annan has been reminding delegations not to lose sight of the other objectives in the sprawling U.N. reform effort: increasing development aid, improving security and human rights, and enacting administrative reforms that might allow the United Nations to run more efficiently.

That view is endorsed by the United States, which advocates a permanent seat for ally Japan, plus another for a developing nation.

At most, Washington will consider three more elected positions, but urges fellow governments not to lose sight of administrative changes.

“I think of the record in the past in 1990, 1995 and 2000, when somewhat artificial deadlines were proposed that meant that there was no change in the composition of the council at all,” U.S. Ambassador John R. Bolton said last week.

“So if you’re looking at the historical record, it would be hard to argue that putting any kind of deadline in place is necessarily conducive to success.”

Betsy Pisik may be reached by e-mail at bpisik@washingtontimes.com

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