Taiwan is called “Chinese Taipei” in the WTO, the International Olympic Committee, and in various international and regional fisheries management organizations. It is not the best choice for a title, but at least Taiwan is treated in these forums as a separate entity, distinct from China.
Whether our government is aware of it or not, the price Taiwan has paid in accepting this title for its attendance at the WHA is to put up with or even accept “Chinese Taipei” being bundled together with China.
The worst-case scenario is that it leads to Taiwan’s title in other organizations in which it participates as “Chinese Taipei” also being changed to “the Taiwan Province of China.” In that case, our past independent international participation and space will soon be thoroughly “sinicized” in law.
Since 2009, the Ma administration has, for the sake of taking part in WHO-related meetings, repeatedly been drawn into frameworks set up by China.
We now need to consider how best to dispel this legal risk. Instead of doing that, the government has, while arguing about the name under which Taiwan is listed, ignored the threat regarding how Taiwan’s sovereignty is defined.
If this goes on, Taiwan’s breakthrough participation in international organizations such as the WHO, of which the government is so proud, could become a black hole that swallows up the nation’s independence and sovereignty.
Chiang Huang-chih is a law professor at National Taiwan University.
TRANSLATED BY JULIAN CLEGG