Tue, Jun 19, 2007 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: Time for a change of strategy

Over the past decade and a half, Taiwan has devoted millions of dollars and untold resources in an attempt to assert its statehood by entering international organizations such as the UN and WHO.

During that period, the nation has made every effort to please its fellow members of the international community, to no avail.

But instead of raising Taiwan's profile in the global community, the nation's standing has arguably regressed — thanks to the willingness of nations who claim to support democracy, human rights and universal healthcare to look the other way in the face of Chinese threats and coercion.

For example, when Taiwan was striving to become a WTO member, it promptly completed negotiations with all other WTO members and agreed to enter under the degrading title of the "Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu." It's reward? It had to wait two years for China to complete its own negotiations before being allowed to enter.

Then, in order to curry favor with the WHO and demonstrate the nation's ability to tackle infectious diseases in the hope of boosting its chances of obtaining World Health Assembly observer status, Taiwan complied with the WHO's International Health Regulations at the earliest possible opportunity. This gesture of goodwill had little effect as the WHO again rejected Taiwan and then betrayed the nation by signing a secret memorandum of understanding (MOU) that effectively recognized China's preposterous claims to control this nation's health system.

Time and again, Taiwan is willing to denigrate itself to demonstrate goodwill and conform to global expectations. In return, it gets nothing but treatment befitting a pariah state.

Meanwhile, other nations use a mixture of threats, bribery and flagrant violations of international laws to get what they want from the world.

North Korea, for example, cut off all contact with the international community and tested a nuclear weapon to retrieve money that was frozen by international efforts to combat money laundering.

Countries such as India and Brazil regularly flaunt international drug patents to treat their sick before drug companies bow to their demands and allow them to produce cheaper generic versions.

Bending the rules, making threats and adopting a belligerent attitude appear to be much more successful than kneeling and begging for help when it comes to getting what you want.

Previously classified files released last week by the US revealed that when former president Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國) was seeking to obtain nuclear technology in the 1970s, the US pulled out all the stops to prevent this. A canny politician like Chiang would not have abandoned his plans in return for nothing.

Of course, seeking nuclear weapons or threatening regional stability is taking things a bit far. But with nearly 1,000 Chinese missiles pointing at Taiwan, maybe the military should begin developing and deploying its own offensive missiles.

Then when the US and the global community come knocking at the door complaining about the "status quo" is being affected, Taiwan can reply: "We can do something about it, but what’s in it for us?"

A simple refusal to share important medical information with other nations, for example, would show other countries the folly of the MOU when they try to contact Beijing for information about Taiwan's health situation.

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