Bills supporting Taiwan's ICAO bid introduced in U.S. Congress

Washington, March 14 (CNA) Bills in support of Taiwan's observer status in the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) have been introduced in both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, a U.S. senator said Thursday. Robert Menendez, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a press release that he submitted one of the bills that day in the Senate, while the other was submitted to the House of Representatives by Ed Royce, chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. Menedez said that Taiwan is one of the world's major air passenger and cargo markets, and it provides air traffic control service to over 1.2 million flights per year. It was also included in the U.S. Visa Waiver Program last year, which is expected to increase travel between Taiwan and the U.S. rapidly, he added. He stressed that allowing Taiwan's inclusion in the ICAO, based in Montreal, Canada, as an observer will ensure that it has access to the technical information it needs to continue to conform its civil aviation practices with evolving international safety standards. "This will help guarantee the safety of travelers and airlines from America and Taiwan alike, as well as others in Asia and around the globe," he said. The bills also cite Taiwan's track record in the World Health Assembly (WHA), the World Health Organization's decision-making body, to demonstrate the merit of Taiwan's inclusion in international organizations. Since Taiwan's 2009 inclusion in the WHA as an observer, it has contributed substantially to the prevention of global pandemics, the bills note. If passed by both the Senate and the House, the bills will create a legally binding force for the U.S. administration. The U.S. secretary of state will then need to submit a report to Congress, after which the U.S. representative to the ICAO will propose Taiwan's inclusion in the United Nations specialized agency as an observer. Taiwan's representative to the U.S., King Pu-tsung, expressed thanks for the proposed bills and said he will continue to seek support from more members of the U.S. Congress. The bills mark the first legally binding effort proposed by the U.S. Congress in its support for Taiwan's ICAO observer status, he added. (By Tony Liao and Ann Chen)