Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Taiwan Hindered in Helping Environment


Today the Taipei Times reports on how delegates from Taiwan's Environmental Protection Agency, after being invited to participate in the Basel Convention on Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal (fun title), were turned away upon arrival because their idendification documents had been issued by the Taiwan government:

The administration sent a total of six representatives to the Basel Convention this year. Two of them returned to Taiwan early on Sunday and told reporters about the situation.

Lai Ying-ying (賴瑩瑩), a senior specialist at the EPA's waste management department, said the convention was mainly attended by professionals to discuss the latest technology for handling hazardous waste.

Lai said that the administration submitted an online application to the UN Secretariat before departing for the convention. To avoid sensitive political issues, the administration applied under the name of the Institute of Environment and Resource (IER), a non-governmental group that is partially supported by the EPA.

Lai noted the Basel Secretariat in Geneva had also sent them a confirmation e-mail upon receipt of their application, telling representatives to bring a copy of the e-mail to the registration department to get badges.

However, Lai said that the Taiwanese representatives were denied entry to the convention after they showed the registration officials their passports, and were told that there had been a change in regulations governing the admission of observers.

Based on a report issued last Friday by the UN Environment Programme, the UN Security and Safety Section in Geneva had advised that representatives from Taiwan "could not be accredited to participate at the current session because their accreditation documents had been issued by Taiwan, which is not a Member State of the United Nations."

The report said the Secretariat of the Basel Convention in Geneva "had been surprised" by the situation, as the rule had never been applied previously and Taiwan had made useful contributions on the issue of e-waste.
This is a textbook example of how the United Nations is going overboard in its efforts to please China and snub Taiwan at every turn. It also underscores China's general disconcern for issues pertaining to the environment, world health, or any of the other numerous issues UN bodies are created to address. Taiwan is a major playor in the electronics industry, as this article points out -- and yet China could care less if the convention doesn't benefit from the islands expertise with handling electronic waste. Apparently the UN also doesn't care, or at least not enough to refrain from kow-towing to Beijing at every turn.

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