( dpa )- Taiwan's president-elect Ma Ying-jeou, in his first international news conference the day after a landslide victory at the polls, said Sunday Taiwan will continue the fight for UN membership, but not through referendums.
"Joining the UN is the wish of the majority Taiwanese. But after the UN referendum failed yesterday, we cannot hold another such referendum for three years under our referendum law," Ma told the news conference which was held in English for some 500 foreign reporters.
Ma said Taiwan will continue to fight for its UN seat but will use flexible ways to win support for its bid to the international body.
The UN referendum was held along Taiwan's presidential polls on Saturday and was more than 2.3 million votes short of passing.
Its failure was a big relief to the United States which has strongly opposed the vote, saying it would stoke tension between Taiwan and China, a rival of Taipei since the two sides split at the end of a civil war in 1949.
Taiwan has been the seat of the Republic of China (ROC) since 1949, when the ROC government lost the Chinese Civil War and fled to Taiwan.
The UN expelled the ROC to accept Communist China, or the People's Republic of China (PRC), in 1971.
Taiwan launched the campaign to rejoin the UN in 1993 but has failed each year due to opposition from China which claims Taiwan is Beijing's breakaway province. Currently only 23 countries recognize ROC while more than 170 countries recognize PRC.