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US House backs Taiwan at UN aviation body

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce is pictured on June 12, 2013 in Washington, DC
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce is pictured on June 12, 2013 in Washington, DC. The US House of Representatives urged the United Nations aviation group to give a role to Taiwan, a small victory for an island whose rivalry with China keep

The US House of Representatives urged the United Nations aviation group to give a role to Taiwan, a small victory for an island whose rivalry with China keeps it from world bodies.

Lawmakers unanimously approved a bill that directed Secretary of State John Kerry to use US diplomacy to push for observer status for Taiwan when the International Civil Aviation Organization meets in Montreal in September.

Representative Ed Royce, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said the move would be a "significant step" to ensure that Taiwan's airports have up-to-date technology.

"Millions of passengers flying between Taiwan and the US have been greatly disadvantaged by Taiwan's exclusion," said Royce, a Republican from California.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved a similar bill in May.

Its passage by the full Senate is virtually certain as the bill enjoys support from both Republicans and members of President Barack Obama's Democratic Party.

Taiwan, which was founded by Chinese nationalists after defeat in the mainland's civil war and has evolved into a prosperous democracy, lost its United Nations seat in 1971 when the General Assembly admitted Beijing.

China -- which considers Taiwan a Chinese province awaiting reunification, by force if necessary -- has adamantly opposed any international role or recognition that implies that the island is a separate country.

But China has not been vocal on Taiwan's bid for observer status at the aviation organization amid warming relations since the island elected Beijing-friendly President Ma Ying-jeou in 2008.

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