Taiwan suffers new setback in trying to attend ILO conference

Taipei--Taiwan's bid to participate in this year's conference of the International Labour Organization (ILO) was rejected, marking another setback it is facing in participating in international gatherings, after it was excluded from the World Health Assembly last month, an official of the New Power Party (NPP) said Saturday.

The 106th session of the International Labour Conference, a high-level annual event of the ILO, will be held in Geneva, Switzerland from June 5-17.

But NPP Secretary-General Chen Hui-ming (???) said the party was recently informed that several Taiwan trade unions under the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), and the Taipei-based Chinese National Federation of Industries are excluded from this year's conference.

She said that representatives of the above organizations are not admitted to the upcoming conference on the grounds that the United Nations does not allow non-member countries to take part in its meetings.

"'But in fact, the above representatives have taken part in the conference several times over the past years," Chen said.

The ILO is a United Nations agency with 187 member states.

Chen made the remarks at a meeting sponsored by the Taiwan Association of University Professors (TAUP) in Taipei, which explored the warning signal sent by Taiwan's exclusion from the WHA, a decision-making body of the World Health Organization, as well as the recent detention of a Taiwan human rights advocate Lee Ming-che (???) by China.

Lin Hsiu-hsing (???), head of the TAUP, said that Taiwan's exclusion from this year's WHA and the uncertainty over whether a Taipei-Shanghai City Forum will be held this year have underscored that China has taken the initiative to change the mode of cross-strait exchange over the past eight years.

The latest incidents "will not be the last ones," Lin said.

Speaking on the same occasion, Wu Rwei-ren (???), an associate researcher of Academia Sinica, the nation's highest research institute, urged President Tsai Ing-wen (???) to make "words and deeds that have the significance of sovereignty declaration" on the Lee Ming-che case.

Lee is a former worker of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party. He has been in detention in China for alleged "subversion of state power" since March 19.

Wu also called for Wu Den-yih (???), newly elected chairman of the Kuomintang, to openly express his stance on the case.

Lai Chung-chiang (???), a convener of the Economic Democracy Union, a civil group, said that the lesson one learns from Lee's case is "to distance oneself from China as far as you possibly can," and not to visit the mainland if possible.

He said a Cross-Strait Forum will be held later this month in Xiamen, and he urged all Taiwanese not to attend in order to lend support to Lee on the one hand, and to tell China that such tactics will not help it achieve its goals on the other.

Taiwan first attended the WHA meeting as an observer in 2009, a year after former President Ma Ying-jeou (???) came to power and pursued a more conciliatory policy toward Beijing.

Taiwan had taken part in every WHA meeting since then, until this year.

Its exclusion is widely seen as the latest move by China to clamp down on Taiwan's international participation, a strategy that has become more aggressive since President Tsai of the Democratic Progressive Party, which is less conciliatory toward China, came to power in May 2016.

Cross-Taiwan Strait relations have cooled since Tsai took office, mainly due to her refusal to heed Beijing's calls to recognize the "1992 consensus" as the sole political foundation for cross-strait exchanges.

The "1992 consensus" refers to a tacit understanding reached in 1992 between China and Taiwan, which was then under a Kuomintang government, that there is only one China, with both sides free to interpret what that means.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel