September 13th, 2007 01:57 EST
GIO Minister Shieh welcomes Freedom House's support for Taiwan's UN Referendum
Freedom House, the internationally renowned non-governmental organization based in the United States, issued a press release on September 10, expressing its opposition to the joint efforts by China and the United States to prevent Taiwan from holding a national referendum on applying for a seat at the United Nations (UN). Minister Shieh Jhy-wey of the Government Information Office (GIO) has welcomed the statement. In addition to expressing his appreciation to Freedom House for lending its voice in support of Taiwan, Minister Shieh believes the movement to hold a referendum on applying to the UN expresses the collective will of the public and entirely conforms to the spirit of the administration of US President George W. Bush in promoting democracy throughout the world. Minister Shieh hopes the international community will pay attention to the voice of the people of Taiwan in their desire to participate in the UN.
Freedom House, in the press release issued on Monday in Washington D.C., said that since the United States is one of Taiwan's strong allies, there is no need for it to join with China "to bully the Taiwanese people – who have demonstrated their commitment to democracy – away from peacefully expressing their desire to occupy a seat at the United Nations." In addition, the U.S. pressure on Taiwan is inconsistent with its commitment to the promotion of democracy and freedom.
Minister Shieh said that Taiwan's referendum on entering the UN was initiated via a petition campaign by the public and expresses the collective will of the public in a democratic society. The government has decided this year to apply to the UN as a new member under the name "Taiwan." This is entirely a reflection of public opinion, he said.
Minister Shieh stressed that Taiwan has long been the most resolute democratic ally of the United States in the Asia-Pacific region and is its most loyal partner in defending peace and stability in the region. The people of Taiwan genuinely hope the US government at this year's UN General Assembly will join together with other democracy loving nations and advocate Taiwan's application to the international body, opposing the stance of authoritarian nations. Minister Shieh said Taiwan hopes democratic nations will cooperate in helping Taiwan to successfully become a member of the UN, thereby ending the decades of political apartheid experienced by Taiwan in the international community.
Minister Shieh also said that the biggest obstacle to Taiwan in becoming a member of the UN comes from opposition by China. If the United States is unable to stand up for Taiwan at the UN due to international political or strategic considerations, Taiwan would understand, he said. However, Taiwan cannot accept that the United States would take a stance due to coercion or misrepresentations by China, and therefore misunderstand or publicly oppose Taiwan's position to apply to enter the UN and hold a referendum regarding the issue. Such action would not only harm the deep friendship maintained between the people of Taiwan and the United States, but would also ultimately result in China adopting even more savage measures in arbitrarily putting obstacles in front of Taiwan.
As the UN General Assembly prepares to convene in the middle of September, Minister Shieh expressed that Taiwan is a sovereign democratic nation and entry into the UN is a basic human right for the 23 million people of Taiwan. He said that in order to enable the international community to understanding mainstream opinion on Taiwan, the GIO has instructed its press offices overseas to drum up publicity in the media for Taiwan's efforts to join the UN. These initiatives have included interviews, the publishing of advertisements, writing letters to the editor, and urging friends of Taiwan in the international community to write editorial pieces supporting Taiwan's position. Up through September 9, a total of 1,281 articles have been published by important international media sources, while 87 editorials and columns have been printed. In addition, 63 interviews with high-ranking Taiwan government officials have been published, and 142 letters to the editor have been printed. The content of these articles and letters has overwhelmingly been in support of Taiwan's appeal to enter the UN. Minister Shieh said that an article he wrote trumpeting Taiwan's efforts to join the UN was published in 79 papers.
Freedom House was founded in 1941 and is headquartered in Washington, D.C. It is an independent non-governmental organization that supports the expansion of democracy, freedom and rule of law, while opposing dictatorship, tyrannical government and political persecution.