Taiwan started a new drive Thursday to rejoin the United Nations, an effort that could escalate tensions between the island and an already angry China.
The bid for U.N. membership has become an annual ritual, but this year's plea by Taiwan comes a month after President Lee Teng Hui declared that the island's relations with the mainland should be on a "state-to-state" basis.
China considers Taiwan a renegade province.
Deputy Foreign Minister David Lee said the latest bid will probably be crushed by China, which firmly objects to the island's participation in the United Nations.
A dozen of Taiwan's diplomatic allies _ most of them in Africa, Latin America and the South Pacific _ filed a draft resolution with the U.N. secretariat asking that Taiwan's lack of representation be discussed by the General Assembly.
Taiwan left the United Nations in 1971, just before other members voted to give its seat to the People's Republic of China.
Paper reveals unofficial
papal envoy in Hong Kong
HONG KONG _ Shortly after China made it clear it would not welcome Pope John Paul II to Hong Kong, an unofficial Vatican envoy was found to be living and working in the territory.
Hong Kong government officials said they were taken by surprise by the revelation reported Thursday by the South China Morning Post. Monsignor Fernando Filoni _ who is officially posted to Manila _ is actively working for the pope in Hong Kong, the Vatican confirmed.
After the Post blew Filoni's cover, the Holy See sought to play down any suggestions he was on a secret assignment. The Vatican said Filoni has been living and working in Hong Kong "to more closely follow the life of the church in Hong Kong and continental China."
The Post reported that Filoni is thought to have played a key role in the recent failed attempt to make Hong Kong a part of John Paul's planned Asian tour this fall.
Beijing refused to let the pope visit Hong Kong because of the Vatican's diplomatic ties with Taiwan. The Vatican says it will not recognize China unless the church is allowed to practice freely there, something the Communist leadership has refused.
Beijing steps up attack
on Falun Gong sect
HONG KONG _ China has stepped up its campaign against the Falun Gong sect, claiming that its leader directly incited thousands of members to protest against the Chinese government.
The New York-based leader of the group, Li Hongzhi, exercised "remote control" over a demonstration in Beijing in April, despite having left the capital for Hong Kong the day before, according to a documentary broadcast on Chinese television Thursday.
It is the latest round in a propaganda offensive by Beijing against the Falun Gong, a group claiming at least 10-million adherents, which was outlawed last month.
Chinese scientists warned that Communist Party members had been duped by people claiming supernatural powers derived from qigong _ the belief that humans can harness their qi, or vital energy, by meditation and physical exercises.
"Feudal superstition is becoming rampant in China," said physicist He Zuoxiu, "and it poses a threat to social stability and unity."