Taiwan metal band beats drum for UN membership bid

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WASHINGTON, Sep 14 (Reuters) Rockers from Taiwan took their island's uphill struggle for UN membership to American arenas this year as the first Asian extreme metal group on hard rock icon Ozzy Osbourne's Ozzfest tour.

Goth-style rockers ChthoniC acknowledged that the headbanging, expletive-laced music they served up in some 60 cities in North America over the past summer may not help Taiwan overcome 14 failed attempts to join the United Nations.

But lead singer Freddy Lim said his six-piece band won sympathetic awareness of the isolation that China imposes on Taiwan from rock fans who previously couldn't locate the island of 23 million people.

''For these young people, it's very logical and natural to support Taiwan to join international society and for Taiwanese to share the same international rights that they have,'' he told reporters in Washington yesterday.

''But the politicians in the United Nations seem to think it's more logical and natural to sacrifice Taiwan in their political games,'' said Lim.

China blocks self-ruled Taiwan's UN application every year because it views the island as part of its territory and not a separate country.

The two sides split after the Chinese civil war in 1949, and Taiwan left the United Nations in 1971 when China was admitted.

Taiwan's 15th annual bid to join the world body will be put before the UN General Assembly on September 18 and Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian has pulled out all the stops this time with satellite video conferences to American audiences.

Chen will beam his message to New York today in the latest event in a campaign that has drawn rebukes from senior US diplomats, who warn Taipei against provoking a Chinese government that has not ruled out using force against Taiwan.

In ChthoniC's new English single, ''UNLimited Taiwan'', Lim shouts ''UNLimited Island. UNLimited fight'' with the guttural roar of Goth music.

In conversations with reporters, however, Lim speaks softly and politely in fluent English, raising his voice mainly to chide US officials who have condemned Chen's plan to hold a referendum on Taiwan's UN application next March.

''Is this country still the United States of America, or just a province of China?'' he asked, before thanking the US government for issuing his band visas.

REUTERS NC RAI0854

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