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China protests against Taiwanese minister addressing UN meet

Minister Audrey Tang spoke by videoconferencing at a Geneva meeting

Minister Audrey Tang (on small screen at far right) addresses UN meeting in Geneva.

Minister Audrey Tang (on small screen at far right) addresses UN meeting in Geneva. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Minister without Portfolio Audrey Tang (唐鳳) addressed a United Nations Internet Governance Forum (IGF) by video conferencing Thursday, leading to protests from China.

Taiwan is not a member of the UN, with even Taiwanese journalists being barred from UN premises, as China denies its status as a sovereign independent nation and tries to prevent it from attending international meetings.

The IGF event took place at a UN building in Geneva, Switzerland, and Tang, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, and the National Communications Commission were invited to share the experience of Taiwan with digital development.

As a presence in Geneva would have involved a trip by at least 10 people, with uncertainty about whether everybody would have been allowed inside, Tang decided to use a “telepresence robot” to attend the meeting, the Central News Agency reported. The robot involves a stand which can move around to show all angles of a room on a pad.

The proposal by Tang to use videoconferencing from his office in Taipei was approved thanks to the cooperation of the IGF meeting’s chairperson, who represents Paraguay, one of the island’s 20 diplomatic allies. Staff at the local Taiwanese representative office in Geneva also helped with the procurement and installation of the necessary equipment, CNA reported.

When Tang addressed the meeting, the Chinese delegate protested, questioning Taiwan’s right to be represented as a “national government” and as “a small country.” However, the chairman of the event rejected his protest, saying the topics under discussion were not political.