Taiwan says it was shut out of UN climate talks due to China pressure

Taiwan said it was shut out from the UN Climate Change Conference COP23 in Bonn, Germany, owing to political pressure from China.
Taiwan said it was shut out from the UN Climate Change Conference COP23 in Bonn, Germany, owing to political pressure from China.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

TAIPEI (REUTERS) - Taiwan's environment minister was prevented from attending an annual UN climate meeting even with credentials as a non-governmental participant because of pressure from China, the island said.

It was the latest time self-ruled Taiwan was not able to take part in an international event because of opposition from China, which objects to the island it claims under its "one-China" stand being accorded anything akin to the status of an independent state.

Environmental protection agency minister Lee Ying-yuan had hoped to attend a UN climate change meeting in Germany, the island's foreign ministry said in a statement late on Monday (Nov 13).

"Due to China's interventions, environmental protection minister Lee was unable to enter the UNFCCC meeting," it said, referring to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Relations between Beijing and Taipei have nosedived since Tsai Ing-wen was elected the island's president last year. China believes she wants formal independence for Taiwan, a red line for Beijing.

Tsai says she wants to maintain peace with China but will defend Taiwan's democracy and security.

Taiwan's foreign ministry spokesman, Andrew Lee, told a news conference in Taipei the president believed climate change was an important issue and the island would endeavour to take part in international meetings to address it.

"We will ... adhere to the president's position that Taiwan definitely won't be absent from international efforts to counter climate change," Lee said.

Since 2009, when Taiwan announced its intention to participate in UN climate change meetings, the government has helped officials get credentials for talks as non-governmental observers to attend the international meeting.

This year, Taiwan was shut out of an annual UN World Health Assembly meeting in Geneva, which the island also said was due to China's coercion and threats.