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.
Taiwan might not be a universally recognized nation-state, but no one familiar with Taiwan could deny its distinct national identity. It is a vibrant and healthy democracy and its government, since democratization, has made significant progress in its respect for human rights, including the informal adoption of multiple UN accords.
This incident was not the result of an attempt by government officials to push for a change of guidelines or UN recognition; it was a group of well-intentioned students eager to participate in and learn from an international meeting of labor experts, workers and employers.
The UN commission dedicated to the advancement of the rights of all human beings, regardless of political identity, should reflect on the irony of its actions. It only does itself a disservice by shutting the door on Taiwanese participation in its conferences and events.
Jeremy Olivier is a graduate student in the international master’s program of Asia-Pacific Studies at National Cheng Chi University.
South China Sea exercises in July by two United States Navy nuclear-powered aircraft carriers reminds that Taiwan’s history since mid-1950, and as a free nation, is intertwined with that of the aircraft carrier. Eventually Taiwan will host aircraft carriers, either those built under its democratic government or those imposed on its territory by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and its People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN). By September 1944, a lack of sufficient carrier airpower and land-based airpower persuaded US Army and Navy leaders to forgo an invasion to wrest Taiwan from Japanese control, thereby sparing Taiwanese considerable wartime destruction. But two
This year, India and Taiwan can look back on 25 years of so-called unofficial ties. This provides an occasion to ponder over how they can deepen collaboration and strengthen their relations. This reflection must be free from excitement and agitation caused by the ongoing China-US great power jostling as well as China’s aggressive actions against many of its neighbors, including India. It must be based on long-term trends in bilateral engagement. To begin with, India and Taiwan, thus far, have had relations constituted by various activities, but what needs to be thought about now is whether they can transform their ties
The US Navy’s aircraft carrier battle groups are the most dramatic symbol of Washington’s military and geopolitical power. They were critical to winning World War II in the Pacific and have since been deployed in the Indo-Pacific region to communicate resolve against potential adversaries of the US. The presence or absence of the US Seventh Fleet — the configuration of US Navy ships and aircraft in the Indo-Pacific region built around the carriers — generally determines whether war or peace prevails in the region. In the immediate post-war period, Washington’s strategic planners in the administration of then-US president Harry Truman shockingly
On Thursday last week, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivered a barnstorming speech at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda, California, titled “Communist China and the Free World’s Future.” The speech set out in no uncertain terms the insoluble ideological divide between a totalitarian, communist China and the democratic, free-market values of the US. It was also a full-throated call to arms for all nations of the free world to rally behind the US and defeat China. Pompeo elaborated on a clear distinction between China and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), in an attempt to recalibrate the