Taiwan slams Beijing for blocking UN Ocean Conference delegates

·3 min read

Taiwan has condemned mainland Chinese authorities for blocking its experts from taking part in a United Nations sustainability event in yet another diplomatic snub from Beijing, which claims sovereignty over the self-ruled island.

Three Taiwanese experts were originally set to attend the five-day United Nations Ocean Conference in Lisbon, Portugal, from Monday as part of Tuvalu's delegation.

But Beijing, which sits on the UN credentials committee, opposed the inclusion of the Taiwanese on the grounds that the island was not a UN member. It threatened to revoke the entire delegation's accreditations if Tuvalu did not comply.

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Taiwan has been excluded from the United Nations since 1971, when the global body admitted Beijing as the sole representative of China. As a result, the island and its citizens are unable to attend UN events.

Tuvalu Foreign Minister Simon Kofe bowed out of a UN conference that opened Monday after mainland Chinese authorities blocked Taiwanese attendees from joining the South Pacific island country's delegation. Photo: Reuters alt=Tuvalu Foreign Minister Simon Kofe bowed out of a UN conference that opened Monday after mainland Chinese authorities blocked Taiwanese attendees from joining the South Pacific island country's delegation. Photo: Reuters>

The move prompted Tuvalu Foreign Minister Simon Kofe to cancel his trip to show "solidarity with Taiwan", Radio New Zealand reported on Monday. The Pacific island country, which established formal ties with Taiwan in 1979, is one of 14 states to officially recognise Taipei.

Taiwan's foreign ministry thanked Tuvalu for its strong support and for helping the island take part in international events. It also condemned Beijing for "randomly exerting pressure on UN members", an act that "once again revealed its malicious nature".

"It has long been a practice for each UN member state to decide who may join its delegation for a UN event, and members of the UN credentials committee have no right to decide who should be in the delegation," ministry deputy spokesman Tsuei Ching-lin said in Taipei on Tuesday.

"The government will continue to work with allies and like-minded countries to jointly counter the growing malign influence of China in the United Nations."

On Monday, mainland foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian underlined Beijing's position that Taiwan was a part of China and that the one-China principle was a basic norm governing international relations and the consensus of the international community.

"Taiwan authorities are accustomed to resorting to such gambits in the context of international affairs. Stooping to join the entourage of a foreign country in order to tag along and wedge into the United Nations Ocean Conference can only bring disgrace," Zhao said.

Beijing has for decades engaged in a campaign to bar Taiwan from taking part in global events, especially those involving the UN.

It has also stepped up efforts to poach Taiwan's diplomatic allies since Tsai Ing-wen, of the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party, was elected president in 2016 and refused to accept the one-China principle.

The UN Ocean Conference, last held in 2017, is convened to discuss oceanic conservation and sustainability efforts.

The rest of the delegation from Tuvalu, which is forecast to be submerged by the end of the century, attended the event without Kofe.

This article originally appeared in the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the most authoritative voice reporting on China and Asia for more than a century. For more SCMP stories, please explore the SCMP app or visit the SCMP's Facebook and Twitter pages. Copyright © 2022 South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

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