Senior Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) officials have described the Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) efforts to apply for UN membership under the name "Taiwan" as "pushing the Taiwanese people in front of an oncoming car."
Rather than defend the rights of Taiwanese, the KMT's first reaction to the application being rejected has been to comply with China's oppression of Taiwan.
This pandering to China is certainly shameless, but the episode has highlighted the fallacy inherent in three major aspects of the KMT's China policy. These are its advocacy of a "cross-strait mutual non-denial" treaty, its faith in the so-called "1992 consensus," which allegedly outlines that each side of the Taiwan Strait agrees that there is only one China, although each has a different interpretation of what that means, and its insistence that the forums that have been held between the KMT and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) are helping to reconcile cross-strait differences.
First, KMT presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) believes that he can break the deadlock and resume dialogue by getting China to agree to a "cross-strait mutual non-denial" treaty. But Beijing deals with massive mainstream public support for joining the UN by boorishly denying that Taiwan exists and refusing to allow Taiwan the international space to which it is entitled. This illustrates that Ma's "cross-strait mutual non-denial" policy is not viable.
Second, the rejection of the UN application has once again disproved the argument that there is one China with each side having a different interpretation. By intimidating the UN into rejecting Taiwan's application and (agreeing with Beijing's interpretation of) UN Resolution 2758, China has proven that it is simply unwilling to let the Republic of China (ROC) have a "different interpretation."
In addition, the idea that there is only one China is related to the People's Republic of China (PRC) being the sole legal representative of China. Therefore as long as "one China" is maintained, it eliminates any room for the ROC internationally, and gives Beijing a legal basis to succeed the ROC as representative of all of China by annexing Taiwan.
The KMT's "one China with different interpretations" policy is not only unhelpful in reconciling cross-strait differences, but also threatens to allow China a legal gap to annex Taiwan, further proof the policy is flawed.
Third, the KMT makes a great fuss over how its forums with the CCP promote cross-strait harmony. But since 2005, when the first forum was held, China has signed a memorandum with the WHO to limit Taiwan's participation in the organization, and the UN has started talking about how "Taiwan is a part of China."
The beginning of the "solidification of one China" internationally began right after the first forum. If the meetings promote Taiwan's international participation, why is it that the more forums are held, the more Taiwan's international space is strangled? The rejection of the UN application disproves the lie that the forums are helping Taiwan.
As joining the UN has apparently become a national consensus, and the calls for referendums have demonstrated that joining the UN is part of the mainstream view, both the opposition and ruling parties should be striving to defend Taiwan's referendum democracy and international dignity. They should not be clinging to flawed positions that have already been rejected internationally, nor should they be going along with Beijing's oppression.
Lai I-chung is head of the Democratic Progressive Party's Department of International Affairs.
Translated by Marc Langer
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