The main point of Ben Goren’s recent opinion piece, in terms of Taiwan’s international situation, place and role in world affairs is that, aside from membership in the UN, there is another option — that is, membership in the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), but I do not see this favorably, although of course Taiwan does need outlets to solve its international problems, stemming from its expulsion from the UN in 1971 (“Taiwan has other options than UN,” Aug. 18, page 6).
In fact, Taiwan/the Republic of China (ROC) does participate in a number of international organizations that give it a role and voice in world affairs.
Taiwan has a seat at the International Olympic Committee, APEC, the Asian Development Bank, the Governmental Advisory Committee of the Internet Cooperation for Assigned Names and Numbers and the WTO. There is a long list of other organizations Taiwan is engaged in, not to mention Taiwan’s 17 diplomatic allies, which also offer it a place at the table in international affairs.
In many ways, Goren’s argument depends too heavily on the fact that Taiwan/ROC has been disallowed membership in the UN. No doubt this is problematic, but as Goren notes, the UN is “not the only global body of significance.” Enter the NAM.
The above of course is the central issue, and an issue with no easy solutions. I have many times in this newspaper expressed my views on Taiwan’s international situation, the looming presence of China and its refutation of Taiwan’s international presence, and at the extreme end, the possibility of either armed conflict with China, or Taiwan’s independence.
My view has been at times less than positive in terms of Taiwan’s situation and the possibility of its solution to these difficulties. At the same time, few would doubt my positive views on Taiwan’s international status and ultimate ability to stake its claim to a newly found global status.
To repeat, Goren’s view is that participation in the NAM could be Taiwan’s best answer to the international and transnational problems that beset it.
The NAM is in fact the second-largest international organization after the UN — and it is surprising that its 120 members could actually claim to be unaligned with this or that power bloc and other international organizations. Most of these same countries are members of the UN, and in this and other respects, they have in fact aligned themselves in various ways with other nations and positions.
However, is the NAM really the best approach? Although this alliance has some admirable aims, it has been virtually non-visible in international news since its founding in 1961. It is in effect a movement of developing nations of “the Global South,” and this is hardly Taiwan’s status.
The NAM has been active in the Group of 77, but Taiwan’s economy is the seventh-largest in Asia; it is seen as an advanced economy by the IMF and a high-income economy by the World Bank; and is ranked 15th in the world by the World Economic Forum. In these respects, and given Taiwan’s membership in the WTO and more, it is a first-ranked world player, and is generally seen as such by other nations.
It seems that India and Pakistan were virtual emblems of the NAM in much of its early period, and you cannot say much about that relationship. It seemed to reach a pinnacle of sorts with the Havana Declaration of 1979, when none other than then-Cuban president Fidel Castro announced that “the national independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and security of non-aligned countries” would be maintained in their “struggle against imperialism, colonialism, neo-colonialism, racism, and all forms of foreign aggression, occupation, domination, interference or hegemony as well as against great power and bloc politics.”
Not a bad statement, but since when should we put much significance in that which comes from Castro and Havana? Today, Venezuelan President Nicholas Maduro serves as the NAM chair, not a leader many others want to follow. Furthermore, are we supposed to consider Venezuela non-aligned?
Whether “non-alignment” in fact accords with human rights, peace and equality worldwide could be subject to debate. Many NAM members hardly support and endorse such views in their normal politics.
This is not to say that some of its fundamental principles are not commendable. Yet again, there is not much actual action in terms of these ideas via the NAM. This is not to say that freedom, equality and human rights are not supported around the world, but that the NAM’s actual upkeep in these areas is for the most part little seen.
I am not convinced that “alignment” with members of the NAM would necessarily be better than Taiwan’s current relations with the US, the EU, Japan and any number of other nations around the world (and here we might point to President Tsai Ying-wen’s (蔡英文) New Southbound Policy, and note that it too has strengthened ties with others).
Taiwan can do better than this. Currently, many people around the world see the nation as a viable member of the international community, a sovereign republic that upholds excellent civic values and virtues.
Taiwan has many economic relationships with countries worldwide, is a tourism hotspot, has excellent soft power and skills in cultural exchange and has been a technology and medical leader. The situation is far from perfect, but the nation can hold its head high as it waits for changes to be made.
David Pendery is an associate professor at National Taipei University of Business.
Over the past few years, migrant workers’ rights have improved in Taiwan, but there has not been a comparable improvement in protections for employers, who are faced with a range of challenges, such as family nurses mistreating patients or workers threatening to change brokers or demanding that employers change their jobs. Then there is the decrease in work standards. Migrant workers too often find the lure of the underground jobs market irresistible, are unaware of employment laws and regulations, or have found that National Immigration Agency (NIA) checks are lax, and as a result abscond. If this happens, what protections or
The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) has been giving daily COVID-19 updates for almost four months, and on several occasions when major developments have arisen, the news conferences have attracted large numbers of viewers. The entire nation is anxious about the pandemic, and interest in the latest news has become a part of daily life. Watching the center’s daily news conferences has become something of a national ritual. The pandemic has stabilized within Taiwan due to the admirable efforts of each person living in the nation conducting themselves with the utmost responsibility, and in certain cases making considerable sacrifices within their
This year marks the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II. In that war’s aftermath, novelist George Orwell produced two prophetic works. The first, Animal Farm, was published in August 1945; the second, Nineteen Eighty-Four, came out in June 1949. Both still ring true and cover a wide range of messages, including even how the mid-sized nation of Taiwan achieved its democracy and why it still maintains an outlier status in a COVID-19 world. With its full planetary scope, WWII left untold millions dead and injured, cities were destroyed and the future path of most nations was altered. New
United States Senator “Kit” Bond (R-MO) was a real leader on Asia policy during his time in Congress. Like most senators, he had a ready one-liner for every occasion. The one I never tired of hearing is “Well, looks like everything has been said. The problem is not everyone has said it.” It’s sort of like with US-China great power competition. There is not much new to say. This is especially true because it’s largely a story of what’s already happened: BRI, Made in China 2025, aggression in the South China Sea, provocations on the Indian border, cyber-hacks, erosion of “one country,