Tue, May 16, 2017 - Page 8 News List

EDITORIAL: Stepping up to the stage

With the WHO poised to hold its annual World Health Assembly (WHA) in Geneva, Switzerland, starting on Monday, the chance of Taiwan’s participation as an observer this year is looking bleak considering that, as of yesterday, it has not been invited.

While China’s oppression and obstruction of Taiwan is the main reason for the nation’s exclusion, some have pointed at the WHO for its unfair treatment of Taiwan, neglecting the health rights of Taiwanese.

The government is also not without blame.

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has over the past week tweeted scores of messages calling for international support for Taiwan’s attendance at the public health forum, with government agencies such as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Mainland Affairs Council issuing statements condemning China for blocking the nation’s participation.

However, the government’s other actions have highlighted its passivity and lack of confidence when confronting China at international settings.

The Tsai administration in May last year silently accepted the demeaning title “Chinese Taipei” at the WHA, the same title that had been used since 2009. In September last year, the government also decided not to pursue UN membership.

While a lack of action and assertion to defend nationality on the international stage might be the government’s way of showing “goodwill” toward China, such passivity has translated into weakness in the eyes of Beijing officials. Rather than stopping China from marginalizing Taiwan internationally, the government has played into Beijing’s hands.

Tsai’s pledge to maintain the “status quo” and a self-imposed restriction against demanding national dignity and name corrections at international events essentially means the nation is disarming itself diplomatically and diminishing its visibility.

China is taking full advantage of the Tsai government’s passivity to further its agenda, pushing Taiwan off the world stage.

In the year since Tsai assumed the presidency, the nation has been rejected at international meetings such as the UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s Committee on Fisheries, the International Civil Aviation Organization assembly in Canada and Interpol’s summit in Indonesia.

Despite these setbacks caused by Chinese pressure, the government still dares not upset Beijing in the hope that “tolerance” of its obstruction might offer a slim chance of being able to take part in the next international event.

Pathetic.

With the one-year anniversary of her presidency approaching, hopefully Tsai and her Cabinet will wake up.

It is time for the government to stand up to China with a more aggressive approach to breaking through Beijing’s diplomatic blockade.

It is time the government employs proactive measures and addresses the injustice facing Taiwan, rather than accepting the “rules” dictated by Beijing.

Any sort of passivity on the part of the government only reduces the nation’s global presence, while bolstering Beijing’s false claim that Taiwan is a province of China.

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