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Friday, February 26, 1999 Published at 16:41 GMT

World: Europe

Taiwan criticises China UN veto

UN mandate in Macedonia runs out on Saturday

Taiwan has condemned China's decision to veto a United Nations resolution extending the mandate of UN peacekeepers in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

Duncan Hewitt: "Calls for China to reverse its decision are growing"
China's decision came two weeks after it suspended diplomatic ties with Macedonia when the government in Skopje established diplomatic links with Taiwan.

Taiwan has promised $1bn of investment in Macedonia.

A spokesman for the Taiwanese foreign ministry, Roy Wu, described China's move as an abuse of power and a humiliation of the UN.

UN Correspondent Rob Watson: "This mini-drama has little to do with the UN"
The BBC Correspondent in Taipei, Francis Marcus, says China's use of its UN power is another weapon in its bitter diplomatic battle with Taiwan, which it regards as a renegade province.

International anger

Kosovo Section
Members of the Security Council also reacted angrily to China's use of the veto, saying the withdrawal of the UN force could have a destabilising effect on the Balkans.

All the other members of the Council had voted to continue the UN mandate - apart from Russia, which abstained.

China said the troops were no longer needed and denied the vote was in any way linked with Taiwan.

China's ambassador to the UN, Qin Huasun, said the peacekeeping force had completed its mandate and should be concluded.

Francis Marcus in Taipei: Taiwan say the China veto is an abuse of power,
He said China does not consider the situation in Macedonia to represent a threat to international peace.

Hopes for compromise

UN Correspondent Rob Watson says that UN officials hope that having wielded its veto and made its point, China may be open to some form of compromise allowing the peacekeepers to stay.

Diplomats said a Nato force, supplemented by a 360-strong American contingent of the UN peacekeeping mission, was a possible replacement.

It was only the fifth time China has resorted to the ultimate weapon in UN diplomacy.

Beijing exercised its first veto in nearly 25 years in January 1997 to oppose the dispatch of UN military observers to monitor peace accords in Guatemala, which had ties with Taiwan.

China reversed its decision two weeks later, with diplomats presuming Guatemala had promised to stop backing UN membership for Taiwan.

Beijing considers Taiwan part of its territory with no right to its own international relations.

Fears of Kosovo spillover

The UN mandate for the 1,000-strong force in Macedonia will run out on Saturday.

Many diplomats believe the UN force, which was first deployed in 1992 to prevent the spread of ethnic conflict from Bosnia, has been useful in encouraging stability in Macedonia.

At the time, the simmering dispute between ethnic Albanians and Serbs in neighbouring Kosovo was cited as a reason for despatching the force.

Diplomats think Macedonia's volatile ethnic mix should not be left alone now that Kosovo has exploded into warfare.

"Without their presence, the whole region will be more volatile," said Jelena Pejic, a senior programme co-ordinator for the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights. "It's a tragic decision."

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