China hails rejection of Taiwan's latest UN bid

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BEIJING, Sep 20 (Reuters) China hailed the United Nations' standard rejection of Taiwan's membership bid today, saying the self-ruled island was an inseparable part of ''one China''.

A UN committee yesterday turned down a proposal to put Taiwan's latest bid to rejoin on the agenda of this year's General Assembly annual session, which began on Tuesday.

Taiwan was expelled from the United Nations in 1971 in favour of China and is now recognised by just 24 mostly poverty-stricken nations compared to 170 nations recognising China.

''This once again demonstrates that nobody can alter the fact that Taiwan is an inseparable part of China,'' Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said of the UN decision.

''Any attempt to challenge the one-China principle and to split China is doomed to fail,'' she said in a statement on the ministry Web site (www.fmprc.gov.cn).

Mainland China and Taiwan have faced off since defeated Nationalist forces lost to the Communists and fled to the island at the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949. China has vowed to bring the democracy of 23 million people back under mainland rule, by force if necessary.

It was the 15th consecutive year that Taiwan's membership bid has been knocked back, but this was the first time it had applied under the name ''Taiwan'' instead of its formal title, ''Republic of China''.

The Republic of China under the Nationalists was a founding nation of the world body in 1945 and was one of the five permanent members of its Security Council.

''We express regret at the result but we are not surprised,'' Taiwan Foreign Ministry spokesman David Wang told reporters in Taipei. He said Taiwan's allies would have the chance to raise the issue again in the General Assembly in the next couple of days.

''It's not fair to respect just 'one China' because not everybody agrees to that principle.'' Taiwan's independence-leaning President Chen Shui-bian has also scheduled a referendum for March on the UN membership drive, a move that has displeased ally Washington, which fears it will increase tension across the Taiwan Strait.

Critics see the plan as an unnecessary provocation and a populist move to help Chen's Democratic Progressive Party stay in power.

''He hopes that his provocation of the mainland will cause crisis .. which will divert the island's people's attention from the corruption involving both his government and his family,'' Beijing's China Daily said in an editorial.

REUTERS SZ YA RAI0855

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