- The Washington Times - Monday, July 1, 2013

On June 18 and 19, the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate overwhelmingly passed bills directing the secretary of state to develop a strategy to help Taiwan obtain observer status at the International Civil Aviation Organization Assembly, the governing body of the U.N.-affiliated organization.

These bills, sponsored by Sen. Robert Menendez, New Jersey Democrat, and Rep. Edward R. Royce, California Republican, respectively, are an important step in the process of bringing the 180,000 square nautical miles that make up the Taipei Flight Information Region into the regional and global aviation community. The Taipei FIR is a major hole in the ICAO’s regulatory coverage; indeed, Taiwan is one of the busiest airspaces in the world, with 40 million travelers entering, leaving or passing through each year, and flights between Taiwan and the United States have increased significantly since Taiwan’s inclusion in the U.S. visa-waiver program.

Despite the absence of any access to the ICAO over the past 40 years, Taiwan’s Civil Aeronautics Administration continues to comply voluntarily with the ICAO’s latest standards and recommended practices. Still, Taiwan must receive the most up-to-date information in a timely manner in order to meet ICAO safety and security requirements. Taiwan is willing and eager to help the ICAO create a seamless sky, and we urge the international community to follow the U.S. Congress’ lead in supporting Taiwan’s bid for observer status at the ICAO Assembly.

LEO LEE

Deputy representative

Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States

Washington, D.C.