Tue, Jun 27, 2017 - Page 8 News List

UN rejection a senseless indignity

By Jeremy Olivier

The rejection of National Chung Cheng University students and their professor from a UN Human Rights Commission International Labor Conference earlier this month because they presented their passports should not surprise anyone who follows the news of petitions by groups and political parties to have Taiwan accepted into the UN, or Taiwan’s participation rejection, even as an informal member or observer, from almost any other inter-governmental institution since President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) assumed office last year.

However, that does not make the event any less shameful.

The UN policy to reject Republic of China (ROC) passport holders is not new; several Taiwanese visitors to the UN’s headquarters in New York City and the UN office in Geneva have been denied entry on presentation of their ROC passport to security over the years, with a number of high-profile cases gaining significant media attention in Taiwan.

UN representatives have said that its offices only accept travel documentation from territories it recognizes as countries.

Other forms of ID, such as a driver’s license or social security card, are acceptable for entry.

However, the academic delegation from National Chung Cheng University were not told that in this most recent affront to Taiwan’s dignity.

Professor Liu Huang Li-chuan (劉黃麗娟) and her labor relations students were barred from attending the conference because, they were told, Taiwan is not a country and does not adhere to the “one China” principle.

Never mind that the passports were issued by the ROC government, considering that just over one year ago, when former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) was in office, acknowledging the ROC for all intents and purposes meant acknowledging “one China.” This justification is laughable at best and dangerous at worst.

To make matters worse, the delegation was told that to be admitted, they must present their Taiwan Compatriot Travel Documents, the ID card issued by the People’s Republic of China (PRC) that permits Taiwanese to travel in China. This makes even less sense than the UN’s reasoning for refusing admission to the group from Taiwan.

The Taiwan Compatriot card is not recognized anywhere else in the world besides China; not even the countries most dedicated to upholding the “one China” principle ask Taiwanese to present this document.

Besides the few countries that do not accept the ROC passport and require an application for an entry permit or travel visa, the Taiwanese passport is one of the most widely accepted in the world, with 137 countries offering Taiwanese visa-exempt travel for a designated time.

Since Taiwan now has only 20 diplomatic allies, that means that the vast majority of those 137 countries are ones that adhere to a “one China” policy that the PRC finds acceptable.

The UN would do well to understand that refusing the participation of Taiwanese academics based on their travel documentation has nothing to do with a consistent policy of recognizing the “one China” principle.

Instead, it is a petty act of fealty to a government so insecure about what it considers its historical territory that it treats even the slightest or smallest courtesy to Taiwan as an existential threat.

Furthermore, this kind of behavior betrays the UN’s status as the highest representative body of the community of nations.

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