November 10, 2007

US backing UN membership for Taiwan

Nineteen US lawmakers, nearly all of them from President George W. Bush's Republican Party, have introduced a bill in the House of Representatives backing UN membership for Taiwan, a move that could anger China. It was introduced on Thursday at the House Foreign Affairs Committee by 18 Republican legislators and one Democrat, with the move led by New Jersey Republican Representative Scott Garrett, congressional records showed. The move came after the chief US diplomatic representative in Taiwan earlier Friday reiterated Washington's official opposition to President Chen Shui-bian's apparent determination to push ahead with a referendum on UN membership for the island under the name "Taiwan."

The Bush administration has tried to discourage Chen's effort, which has touched a raw nerve with China, which considers it a provocative step towards independence. Taiwan, under its official name the Republic of China, lost its UN seat to China in 1971. Its efforts to rejoin using its official title have been repeatedly blocked by Beijing, which sees the island as part of its territory.

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