Perseverance will pay off at the UN
By the Liberty Times editorial
The diplomatic war between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait is heating up. Taiwan and China recently started a new round of sparring at the UN.
\nOn Aug. 10, 15 of the nation's diplomatic allies -- including Chad, Gambia and Nicaragua -- submitted a joint proposal to the UN, calling on the General Assembly to acknowledge the Taiwanese people's right to be represented in the world body, and to stop its policy of "political apartheid" against the country's 23 million people.
\nIn response to the proposal, Chinese Ambassador Zhang Yishan (張義山) sent a letter to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Aug. 12, condemning Taiwan's instigation of "Chad and a very few other countries" to submit the proposal on its behalf as an attempt "to create `two Chinas' or `one China, one Taiwan' in the UN ... The Chinese government and people strongly condemn and firmly oppose such a gross encroachment on China's internal affairs."
\nChina also claims that Taiwan is "pushing cross-straits relations to the verge of danger and posing a grave threat to peace and stability in Taiwan Strait as well as the Asia-Pacific region." Zhang further requested that his letter be circulated as an official document of the 59th session of the General Assembly.
\nDue to former president Chiang Kai-shek's (蔣中正) personal insistence on the policy that "Gentlemen will not stand together with thieves," the Republic of China (ROC) withdrew from the UN in 1971 before the General Assembly's vote on the membership of the People's Republic of China (PRC). As a result, both the ROC's membership and its status as a permanent member of the UN Security Council were taken over by the PRC.
\nIronically, although the ROC's name is listed in the UN Charter, the nation has been excluded by the organization ever since 1971. The 23 million people of Taiwan have gradually become orphans in the international community. Although this is its 12th annual attempt to re-join the UN, the country's chances of gaining membership are still quite slim.
\nThe country's failure to re-gain entry to the UN is a result of unwise decisions during the authoritarian era. Since it was unable to accept the co-existence of the ROC and PRC in the UN, it lost a historic opportunity and has constrained and isolated itself as a result. Under pressure from China, the UN has repeatedly refused to accept the admission of the Taiwanese people into the organization. This is an irreparable fault in an organization that was established in 1945 to maintain international peace and security after World War II. The refusal also exposes the hypocrisy of international power games.
\nThe UN's refusal is a tragedy for all Taiwanese, but it is also a loss for the international community. There are 23 million Taiwanese, more than the number of citizens in many UN member countries. Taiwan has a developed economy and is one of the four Asian Tigers. It is a democracy, protects freedom and human rights, and is fully capable of making a positive contribution to the international community.
\nRegrettably, the UN is now in the grip of power politics and has lost its lofty ideals of maintaining peace and promoting the advancement of humanity. Instead it has deteriorated into a place where the great powers can divide their loot behind closed doors and rubber-stamp great power hegemony. The unreasonable stifling of the international recognition for 23 million Taiwanese and their basic right to participate in international affairs is the best example of the UN's decline.
\nEven more despicable is that China, which has declared that the populations on both sides of the Strait are the same people, completely disregards the dignity and rights of 23 million people, using the "one China" slogan to put pressure on Taiwan in the international community.
\nThe ROC is one of the UN's founding nations, but during the civil war between the Communist Party and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), the communists won the power to rule China. The right to represent China in the UN therefore rests with the PRC. Frankly speaking, some people obviously have a differing opinion. In his letter, Zhang therefore says that the question of China's right to UN representation has been thoroughly resolved, politically and legally as well as formally, and that there is no need for Taiwan to challenge this argument and fact.
\nTaiwan's government has repeatedly explained that the nation's attempt to enter the UN is not an attempt to challenge China's right to representation. However, after having experienced localization and democratization, the ROC is still a legally and legitimately independent country. Taiwanese accession to the UN has nothing to do with the past dispute over China's representation rights.
\nThe title of the proposal jointly presented by Taiwan's diplomatic allies, "The Question of the Representation of the 23 Million People of Taiwan in the United Nations," demonstrates this fact. The country wants to enter the community of nations as a new and independent nation.
\nTaiwan's becoming a UN member would in no way harm China's interests, and it will only improve international development. China's accusations in its absurd efforts to stop Taiwan's attempts at winning UN membership are nothing but slander, and we believe that the world will see this.
\nChina is China and Taiwan is Taiwan. The real cross-strait situation is "one country on each side of Taiwan Strait," and this fact cannot be denied. Therefore, if Taiwan were to join the UN, China would still be China and Taiwan would still be Taiwan. There would be no change in the status quo.
\nWho would have thought that China would accuse Taiwan of "pushing cross-strait relations to the verge of danger and posing a grave threat to peace and stability in Taiwan Straits as well as the Asia-Pacific region" in its bid to join the UN? The accusation should be more correctly leveled at China.
\nTaiwan has emerged from dictatorship into democracy, and has established a state in which power abides in the people. Viewed from a historical or practical perspective, this process has no connection whatsoever with China. So the absurd accusation that Taiwan is pushing the region to the brink of disaster in its bid to join the UN is nothing more than an unvarnished threat.
\nThis diplomatic shutout is part of the implementation of former Chinese president Jiang Zeming's (江澤民) policy of engaging Taiwan in warfare in the areas of law, public opinion and psychology.
\nTherefore, if Taiwan's membership of the UN sparked a conflict, the culprit would not be peace-loving Taiwan. The blame would fall squarely on China, with its more than 500 missiles targeting Taiwan and its regular exercises simulating an invasion scenario.
\nIn the short term, the nation's bid to join the UN might fall victim to its disadvantageous position. But through continued attempts and perseverance, Taiwan's commitment to freedom, democracy, human rights and decency will lead, in the long term, to the realization of its dream of becoming a member of the UN.
\nTranslated by Eddy Chang, Perry Svensson and Ian Bartholomew
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