Scientists told they couldn’t attend . . .
Taiwanese researchers worldwide have reportedly been barred from participating in a virtual biology conference hosted by the International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP). ICTP was established in 1964 by the Italian government, the International Atomic Energy Agency, and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), which manages the ICTP. The academic conference began last Monday and ends on December 15. A Taiwanese researcher from Stanford University posted a rejection letter from the conference organizer, who suggested that Taiwanese nationals cannot attend due to “U.N. rules.” Taiwan’s foreign ministry said that it has instructed its representatives in Italy to negotiate with ICTP.
China’s pressure campaign . . .
Taiwan’s exclusion from a UNESCO-affiliated conference comes as China ramps up pressure to block Taiwan from participating in U.N.-related activities or conducting foreign affairs in general. Despite Taiwan leading the world in the containment of COVID-19, with only 725 cumulative cases to date, it was barred from participating in the annual World Health Assembly due to Chinese pressure. While China has been blocking Taiwan’s participation in U.N.-related events for years, as it considers Taiwan a breakaway province with no right to conduct foreign affairs, Taiwan’s foreign ministry said China’s ‘diplomatic blockade’ has now expanded to its citizens’ participation in academic conferences.
Taiwan in the U.S.-China tug of war . . .
Taiwan’s participation in international organizations has become a flashpoint in U.S.-China relations. In March, the U.S. passed the Taiwan Allies International Protection and Enhancement Initiative (TAIPEI) Act, which mandates the U.S. government to advocate for Taiwan’s membership or observer status in international organizations. The bill was passed unanimously in both the House of Representatives and Senate. China has criticized the bill as an attempt to interfere in its domestic affairs. While it is unclear whether President-elect Joe Biden will change the U.S.’ stance on Taiwan, the TAIPEI Act will likely pressure the incoming administration to continue to take steps to bolster Taiwan’s ability to conduct foreign affairs.
- Focus Taiwan: Taiwan’s exclusion from World Health Assembly regrettable: MOFA
- South China Morning Post: Donald Trump signs TAIPEI Act to support Taiwan’s international relations
- Taiwan News: Taiwanese banned from all UNESCO events