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Taiwan launches 14th annual UN membership bid

Associated Press

August 11, 2006

Taiwan launched its 14th annual bid for United Nations membership Friday, with a call for the world body to pay more attention to East Asian security issues.

The self-governing island of 23 million people is almost certain to face intense opposition from rival China, from which Taiwan split amid civil war in 1949.

Beijing, which took over Taiwan's U.N. seat in 1971, says the island has no right to conduct foreign relations or to join international organizations.

In the past it has successfully pressured U.N. members to oppose Taiwan's bids.

Taiwanese Foreign Ministry spokesman Michel Lu told reporters that 16 of Taiwan's dwindling band of diplomatic allies sent a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Thursday to launch the island's membership bid, which is to be taken up at next month's General Assembly session in New York.

"Even though our number of allies is limited, Taiwan will still be one of the most discussed topics at the U.N. General Assembly," he said.

The island's allies also filed a separate motion calling on the U.N. to pay more attention to the East Asia region, Lu said.

Taiwan is committed to peace and stability in the area, he said, but Beijing poses a threat to regional security because it has threatened to use force if Taiwan moves to formalize its de facto independence.

Lu said Taiwan's U.N. campaign would not be affected by Chad's recent decision to switch diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing.

With that country's defection, Taiwan now maintains full diplomatic relations with only 24 states, mostly small or impoverished nations in Africa, Latin America and the Pacific.

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