25 Jun 07
Taiwan has rejected Singapore’s criticism of Taipei’s plan to hold a referendum on joining the United Nations, telling Singapore not to meddle in Taipei’s domestic affairs, Taiwan press said on Saturday.
The foreign ministry rejected Singapore’s criticism in a late-night statement Friday, after Singapore’s foreign ministry criticized Taipei’s referendum plan earlier in the day, newspapers said.
In its statement, Taiwan’s foreign ministry said it is a sovereign, independent and democratic country and that holding a referendum is a right of the people in a democratic country so other countries have no right to interfere.
“Taiwan is qualified to apply to join the U.N…The real threat to changing the status quo of Taiwan and to regional stability is China’s 900 missiles facing Taiwan and the double-digit growth in China’s military spending,” the statement said.
Singapore on Friday voiced its opposition to Taiwan’s proposed referendum on U.N. membership, calling it provocative and irresponsible.
“The proposal to put Taiwan’s U.N. membership bid under the title ‘Taiwan’ to a referendum is provocative and irresponsible. It can only give false hope to the Taiwanese people, raise cross-straits tensions and reduce Taiwan’s international space,” Singapore’s foreign ministry said in a statement.
“International space” is a Taiwan-invented term for the space for Taiwan’s international survival, meaning Taiwan should be allowed to exist and to join international organizations including the U.N.
“There is no realistic prospect of Taiwan joining the U.N.,” Singapore’s foreign ministry said, adding that the vast majority of U.N. members adhere to a “one China” policy and will not support Taiwan’s membership under any name.
The statement reiterated that Singapore opposes any unilateral move to alter the status of Taiwan.
Taiwan and China split at the end of the Chinese Civil War in 1949, but Taiwan continued to hold China’s seat in the U.N. until 1971 when the U.N. expelled Taipei to accept Beijing as the legitimate representative of China.
Since 1993, Taiwan has launched an international campaign to rejoin the U.N. under its official title the Republic of China, or ROC. The move has failed each year because the U.N. claims that Taiwan, or ROC, was expelled in 1971.
To improve the chance of joining the U.N., some scholars and legal experts have suggested that Taiwan apply to join the U.N. under the name of Taiwan like a new nation.
But China has warned Taiwan that if the island changes its name, it would be tantamount to announcing independence and China would use force to recover Taiwan.
So President Chen Shui-bian, while asserting that Taiwan has the right to join the U.N. under any name it likes, declared that Taiwan has no intention to change its official name, ROC.
Chen plans to hold the referendum when Taiwan holds its presidential election in March 2008.
The United States, the mediator between Taiwan and China, has also warned Taiwan not to hold the U.N. referendum because it is tantamount to altering Taiwan’s status quo and could raise tension in the Taiwan Strait