Tue, Sep 26, 2017 - Page 13 News List

Taiwan should be represented in the UN: Expert

Panelists at East Asian Democracy Forum see Taiwan as a model and cite legal precedent for the nation to join UN

By Chris Fuchs  /  Contributing reporter

Andrew Nathan speaks to reporters last Monday before the start of the East Asia Democracy Forum in New York.

Photo: Chris Fuchs

A leading US specialist on Chinese law and government said last week that Taiwan should have representation in the UN.

The remark by Jerome Cohen, who taught former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) at Harvard Law School, came just minutes into his talk last Monday at the East Asia Democracy Forum held at the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in New York.

It drew prompt applause from the audience.

“I know the significance of the UN General Assembly getting itself together today,” he said. “I think Taiwan should be represented in the UN.”

Cohen, a law professor at New York University School of Law since 1990, told attendees he played a role in persuading the US to acquiesce in giving the UN seat once belonging to the Republic of China (ROC) to the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in 1971.

“It seemed to me that as between the Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) dictatorship on Taiwan and the Mao Zedong (毛澤東) dictatorship that controlled China, that we should have the UN recognize reality and have China represented in the UN by the People’s Republic,” Cohen said.

Looking back, he said he didn’t think it was a mistake.

“That was 47 years ago,” he said. “But things have changed now. Taiwan is no longer the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) dictatorship. White terror ended generations ago. We have seen more progress.”

The forum — organized by the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy (臺灣民主基金會), a Taipei-based nonprofit, and Freedom House, an American independent watchdog group — comes just two days after hundreds marched through the streets of New York City calling for Taiwan’s inclusion in the UN.

Not far from TECO, meanwhile, leaders from around the world were gathering last week for the 72nd regular session of the UN General Assembly.


Cohen told the Taipei Times he believes the Chinese government could devise a formula with UN member states to allow Taiwan representation in the General Assembly without “compromising the territorial claim that divides them over the status of Taiwan.”

He said, for instance, that Beijing might insist that Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) adopt the “1992 consensus” as a concession and that Taiwan could enter the UN under a more acceptable name.

The “1992 consensus” refers to a tacit understanding between the KMT and Beijing that both sides acknowledge there is “one China,” with each side having its own interpretation of what “China” means.

Former Mainland Affairs Council chairman Su Chi (蘇起) said in 2006 that he had made up the term in 2000.

“If Taiwan refused that kind of compromise, it could enter perhaps under the rubric of Taiwan-China, which has been used on occasion,” Cohen said. “There are many possibilities. International law is full of examples of great flexible formulae that have been worked out to meet various needs.”

Last Monday’s discussion on East Asian democracy also comes as Taiwan marks three decades since the end of martial law. During that period, which lasted a little more than 38 years, Taiwanese were denied such freedoms as the right to assemble, speak freely and organize political parties.

Former president Chiang Ching-kuo’s (蔣經國) decision to lift martial law in 1987 was seen as an important first step toward democratizing the nation, though restrictions on certain freedoms still persisted in the years following.

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