Taipei, March 14 (CNA) The annual mock United Nations conferenceorganized by university students in Taiwan and the United Statesopened Sunday in Taipei, with 1,800 participants from over 40nations, excluding China.
The Taiwan government granted visas to between 70 and 80 studentsof major universities in China, but they failed to obtain thepermission of the Chinese government to attend the five-day event,according to event organizer, National Taiwan University (NTU) , incharge of public relations.
The World Model United Nations (WorldMUN) conference, created byHarvard University in 1992, is taking place in Taiwan for the firsttime after NTU won the bid to organize the event after four failedattempts.
In his opening remarks, Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou said heexpected the students to learn how to solve differences peacefully.
"You should learn the skills and attitudes in dealing with otherleaders representing other countries and learn to use all peacefulmeans to solve international disputes, " he told the students fromover 200 colleges.
He also noted that since he came to office in May 2008, Taiwanhas no longer been a flash point as his administration has improvedties with Taiwan's long-time political rival China.
Ma also said that Taiwan, which was a founding member of the U.N.under the name the Republic of China, but lost its representation inthe world body in 1971, has been following the principles of the U.N.charters.
For example, he said, Taiwan ratified two U.N. human rightsconventions last year and will adopt them as domestic law.
He also said that Taiwan has been excluded from taking part inU.N. activities in the past, without specifically attributing thereason to China's obstruction.
"Some of my friends joked that just because of that, you decidedto bring the Model U.N. to Taiwan, " he said, drawing laughs from thestudents.
But he also spoke of Taiwan's breakthrough in participating inU.N. activities.
"After working for so many years, we were able to attend theWorld Health Assembly organized by the World Health Organization lastyear. We hope we can do it again this year, " Ma said.
About 30 minutes before the event opened, scores of activistssupporting the independence of Tibet marched loudly outside the hall,and some of the participating students took their pictures.
The WorldMUN conference will feature 22 committees discussing awide range of issues such as terrorism, medical tourism, humanrights, biodiversity, and corruption.
Participating students will act as delegates from countries otherthan their own, already determined by drawing lots. Taiwanesestudents will speak for Namibia, Paraguay, Switzerland, Somalia, theCzech Republic and Maldives at the conference.
(By Alex Jiang)