Sat, Sep 17, 2005 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: Hold a referendum on the UN bid

Just like the previous 12 attempts, the General Committee of the UN's General Assembly has blocked Taiwan's thirteenth attempt to gain UN membership. For Taiwan, this result is but another temporary setback in the ongoing process toward achieving its ultimate goal. Taiwan will not stop trying to gain entry into the UN until it opens its doors.

Unlike the previous bids, the government this year also put forward a proposal aiming to maintain peace across the Taiwan Strait. The proposal cautions all UN member states that China has 700-plus ballistic missiles targeted at Taiwan, and alerts it to the fact that all nations in the region are concerned about this.

It also urges the UN to demonstrate its deep concern over China's tendency to use military force, by showing solidarity with Taiwan's universal wish for peace. Although the Swedish President of the General Assembly, Jan Eliasson, concluded following the debate that Taiwan's proposals would not be included in the General Assembly's agenda due to a lack of consensus on both issues, that approach has caused the international community to take heed of the cross-strait situation and Taiwan's status. Although Taiwan yet has to succeed in its bid, this has indeed meant some progress in the matter.

China is a permanent member of the UN's Security Council, with veto powers and great influence, so it isn't very surprising that both of Taiwan's proposals were blocked. It should be noted that China's representative saw the visits to China by Taiwan's opposition leaders as helpful in furthering China's international propaganda, saying that those visits showed the international community that there is no cross-strait tension and that UN membership for Taiwan is a non-issue.

China thus used diverging opinions among Taiwan's political parties as a tool for attacking Taiwan's pursuit of UN membership. The fact that China can use Taiwan's opposition parties in its propaganda is a national tragedy.

In the past, former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairman Lien Chan (連戰) served as foreign minister, premier and vice president, and People First Party Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) served as KMT secretary-general and provincial governor of Taiwan. They both pushed hard for the nation's return to the UN.

Now, however, they are acting as the vanguard for China-friendly agents and going against the interests of the whole population of Taiwan to further their own political interest, as a result of their resentment over President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) re-election.

When China's President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) invited Lien and Soong to Zhongnanhai, that was of course part of China's unification efforts. Nothing comes for free in this world, and the people of Taiwan now have to pay the price in the form of the nation's UN membership. The fact that China blocked Taiwan's proposals in the General Committee should not frustrate us, but it was certainly chilling to see the Taiwan's opposition leaders being used as a shield by Beijing.

The fact that Taiwan's politicians have failed to reach a basic consensus on major national goals and unite in their dealings with the international community gives China's united front approach chance after chance to attack Taiwan.

The fact is, the biggest problem with Taiwan's UN bid is Taiwan, not China. Past opinion polls showed more than 80 percent of Taiwanese support the government's UN bid, yet politicians' shortsighted actions neglect public opinion to promote their individual and their parties' interests, and this has become the biggest obstacle in making a bid for UN membership.

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