Thu, Sep 21, 2017 - Page 13 News List

A seat at the table

The goal of full representation is alive and strong as hundreds rally in New York calling for Taiwan’s inclusion in the UN

By Chris Fuchs  /  Contributing Reporter

Around 500 people took part in the annual UN for Taiwan rally in Manhattan on Saturday of last week.

Photo: Chris Fuchs

Hundreds marched in New York City last weekend to call attention to Taiwan’s exclusion from the UN and to what they say is continued oppression from the Chinese government.

Shouting “UN for Taiwan” and carrying homemade signs with pro-Taiwan slogans, participants on Saturday afternoon made their way from outside the Chinese consulate on New York’s West Side to Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, a few blocks away from the UN building.

The annual event, organized by Keep Taiwan Free, a grassroots movement, attracted a mix of young and old Taiwanese Americans and Canadians, overseas Taiwanese, supporters of Tibet and others.

Lily L.W. Hsu (徐儷文), director general of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in New York (駐紐約台北經濟文化辦事處), also joined the rally.

Organizers said turnout appeared higher than in recent years, with around 500 people showing up.

“We definitely got all these communities to come out and highlight the [Chinese Communist Party’s] oppression,” said co-organizer Jenny Wang (汪采羿).

The march and rally, held annually for more than 20 years, comes as the 72nd regular session of the UN General Assembly convened on Sept. 12. One of just a few countries left out of the UN, Taiwan lost its seat to China in 1971.

Beijing has repeatedly opposed Taiwan’s entry into the intergovernmental organization, claiming the country as its own and saying Taiwan is not a sovereign state.

Michael Tsai (蔡明憲), former national defense minister and delegation head of The Taiwan United Nations Alliance (TAIUNA, 台灣聯合國協進會), said the effort to join the UN is a human rights movement, as well as a campaign for the people of Taiwan to “rescue themselves.”

A NATION UNITED

“More than 80 percent of Taiwanese hope Taiwan can join the UN under its name,” Tsai told the Taipei Times. “The demands of the people of Taiwan are very strong.”

In an open letter to UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres and representatives of member states, TAIUNA said Taiwan’s entry into the UN would “facilitate Taiwan’s cross-strait dialogue [and] promote stability and peace between Taiwan and China.”

“No nation should be allowed to restrict and abridge 23 million people’s right of participation in the international community,” reads the letter, signed by Tsai and Reverend William Lo (羅榮光), TAIUNA’s secretary-general.

“Bringing Taiwan into the UN system will also help strengthen peace and stability in the entire Asia-Pacific region and make the UN better represented,” the letter adds.

As old hands of the annual UN rally came out in full force Saturday afternoon, so too did younger Taiwanese concerned over the nation’s fate.

Oliver Tsai, a 36-year-old Taiwanese-American engineer born in Charleston, South Carolina, said he hopes Taiwan can someday gain recognition and status on the global stage.

“We’re not talking about taking anything away from China,” he said. “But we want Taiwan to be able to make their voices heard and be able to determine issues that matter to the people who live there,” he said.

Gloria Hu (胡慧中), a 24-year-old Taiwanese-Canadian who works in pharmaceutical market research, said advocating for Taiwan’s inclusion in the UN remains an important goal, even if some think it’s an old fight.

“I think there’s this narrative out there that Taiwan is provocative or that Taiwan is war mongering, and really what we want to show is that we just want to continue as we are, fighting for our rights. It’s the [Chinese Communist Party’s] increasing aggression that makes us look so confrontational,” she added.

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