Sat, Aug 24, 2019 - Page 8 News List

NAM is not a solution for Taiwan

By David Pendery 潘大為

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.”

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