The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a United Nations specialized agency responsible for setting international aviation standards and promoting air safety, is holding its 39th assembly in Montreal until Oct. 7. Despite its role as a major East Asian aviation player dedicated to contributing to ICAO’s goal of a “seamless sky,” Taiwan was not invited to attend the triennial Assembly because of unfortunate political influence. This unfair decision, which is a step back from the 2013 assembly, to which Taiwan was invited as a special guest, could be detrimental to international aviation safety.
The Taipei Flight Information Region (FIR) covers 180,000 square nautical miles and borders four other FIRs. In 2015 more than 1.53 million flights carrying 58 million passengers passed through the Taipei FIR. Since Taiwan is not an ICAO member, it can only obtain information on ICAO regulations and standards through informal channels, and not always in a timely manner. As aviation safety knows no boundaries and requires close cooperation of countries around the world, keeping Taiwan out for political reasons does not serve ICAO’s mission, and has left the global aviation security system incomplete.
All countries share equally in the obligation to maintain a safe and seamless air travel environment. It makes no sense that a responsible stakeholder like Taiwan should be left out of the aviation body. The ICAO decision to exclude Taiwan is extremely unfair and unwise. Nevertheless, we deeply appreciate that the U.S. administration and Congress have repeatedly voiced support for Taiwan’s meaningful participation in ICAO. With like-minded allies and partners that share common values, Taiwan will continue to seek to participate in ICAO because it will benefit all people around the world.
The Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States