Forging an agreement on aviation emissions won’t be the only U.S. objective at the upcoming International Civil Aviation Organization meeting in Montreal; diplomats will also be pushing for Taiwan’s entry into the United Nations organization as an observer.
Taiwan’s membership would be an important achievement by the United States. Last year, Taiwan was welcomed into the Visa Waiver Program, which lets qualified travelers who pre-register online skip the hassle of having to obtain a visa before visiting the United States. South Korea, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and a host of European nations already participate in the program.
Legislation sponsored by House Foreign Affairs Chairman Ed Royce, R-Calif., that directs Secretary of State John Kerry to seek observer status on the board for Taiwan was signed into law (PL 113-17) in July.
The U.S. has been trying for years to bring Taiwan into the ICAO, as part of an effort to boost tourism and trade with the island.
The larger People’s Republic of China holds the Chinese seat in the United Nations and does not recognize Taiwan as independent. Taiwan is barred from full membership in international organizations that include China. But joining ICAO as an observer is seen as critical to maintaining a worldwide standard of aviation safety.
In celebrating passage of his legislation, Royce lamented that “millions of passengers” have been disadvantaged by Taiwan’s exclusion from ICAO and said it was import to ensure that “Taiwan’s airports and airlines have access to the latest technologies and aviation standards.”
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.