US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said that China tried to prevent US state governors from congratulating President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) on her electoral victory last month.
He reminded the governors that China is exploiting the US’ open society to infiltrate the country, and is extending the level of infiltration from local to federal government.
This is something that Taiwanese have long had to deal with, and now the US is coming to realize the threat presented by China’s sharp power.
China’s reach does not stop at single countries or a minority of nations; it is a global phenomenon.
Nowhere is this more explicitly manifested than its control of international organizations and its distortion of international regulations.
The purpose of the UN is to maintain peace and yet Beijing’s hegemonic ambitions have been laid bare since China’s rise.
Not only has it inserted considerable numbers of its own people into international organizations, it has also sought to interfere in their operations, and the original remit of many international organizations has been severely contorted.
Chinese have positions in virtually all UN agencies and their affiliate entities, not only as senior officials, but also increasingly mid-to-lower ranking public officials.
It is perfectly acceptable for public officials to maintain the interests of their own country, but when officials from different countries take up positions in international organizations they should not place their own country’s interests over that of the work of the international organization.
Unfortunately, when Chinese join international organizations they tend to use these positions to benefit their own national interests and try to promote China’s policies.
People have seen this in the way the UN denies participation in its forums by Republic of China (ROC) passport holders, or when Interpol issues a red notice that lists well-meaning Xinjiang exiles as terrorists or the UN Human Rights Council is forced to shelve human rights cases in countries with poor human rights records.
The COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan is another example. Taiwan’s healthcare standards are world-class and the crowdsourced global database Numbeo ranks Taiwan first in the world in terms of its health insurance metrics.
Yet the WHO has not only refused to allow Taiwan to join it, it also lumped Taiwan’s cases of people infected with the virus with those of China, while praising Beijing for its handling of the outbreak.
Even before this, the US, feeling that the UN system is becoming obsolete, has been systematically withdrawing from international organizations and treaties.
The US’ withdrawal will only help China extend its influence in international organizations, which would not be conducive to world peace.
The international order is being reshaped by events such as China’s rise and Brexit, and the US, instrumental in the creation of the post-World War II international order, needs to reflect deeply about the need for restructuring it, especially with the creation of core values of good governance within its Indo-Pacific strategy.
Rather than withdraw, the US should take the lead in forging a new democratic, rules-based order.
If international organizations stray from their founding objectives, they need to be revised, and democratic nations should consider the possibility of creating alternatives to organizations that have been manipulated or changed beyond recognition.
Mark Chen is a former minister of foreign affairs.
Translated by Paul Cooper
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