About 500 Taiwanese-Americans gathered at Times Square in downtown Manhattan on Saturday for the final event of their weeklong “Keep Taiwan Free” campaign, lobbying the UN to accept Taiwan’s petitions to join the organization.
According to a report in World Journal, the event included a symposium, a gathering and a concert aimed at drawing Taiwanese-American supporters of all ages. Avant-garde rock groups and the neo-traditional Santaizi dance (電音三太子) drew the attention of many New York residents, while members of the Formosan Association for Public Affairs’ (FAPA) Young Professionals Group and the Taiwanese American Coalition of the Greater New York area chanted the slogan “UN for Taiwan.”
Taiwan — under the name the Republic of China (ROC) — left the UN in 1971 after UN Resolution 2758 was passed by the General Assembly which stated that the UN would henceforth recognized the People’s Republic of China (PRC) was the sole legitimate government of China. As a result the ROC lost both its Security Council seat as one of the UN’s founder nations and its representation at the global body.
The rally — which had been scheduled to coincide with the 67th UN General Assembly meeting which is held in New York and began last Tuesday running through to Dec. 17 — sought to bring Taiwan’s bid for UN membership to the attention of the General Assembly.
“It is encouraging for activists to know that our work will be continued by younger generations and that moves for Taiwan to rejoin the UN are not being abandoned,” William Lo (羅榮光), president of the Taiwan-UN Alliance told the Journal newspaper.
“The 23 million people on the island of Taiwan are people who love peace, but we do not have representation within the UN. Why should we be excluded from the UN and other international organizations? We do not want to be an international orphan and will make our voices heard,” Lo said.
Hsieh Chi-yang (謝啟洋), elected Mr Taiwan-for-the-UN, said the relationship should be mutually beneficial.
“We need the UN, and the UN needs us. Taiwan’s past — no matter in the field of an experimental democratic government or the development of the economy — has yielded great results, but because of our exclusion from the UN our diplomatic efforts worldwide are being stifled and we cannot enter other international bodies,” Hsieh said.
Hsieh said that it was due to the exclusion of Taiwan’s from the WHO that Taiwan had been forced to manage and contain the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) epidemic of 2002 and 2003 on its own. The People’s Republic of China had actively blocked Taiwan’s moves for representation in the WHO.
A National Taipei University student Chuang Hui-yu (莊慧瑜), also selected as the event’s Mrs Taiwan-for-the-UN, said that “despite our difficult situation, the younger generation in Taiwan are mostly indifferent towards domestic politics, to say nothing of international politics.”
Chuang said that if asked for their nationality, there could be three answers, including “Taiwanese, Chinese, or ROC citizen,” which shows a lack of a consensus on nationality.
The nationalism used to rule the country, the vicious infighting between the two major political parties in Taiwan and the gradual national and ethnic identities being formed shows that social divisions and conflict in Taiwan are worsening each day, Chuang said.
“I believe that the nation should be above the party and that is why I think we need UN membership because we need a clear symbol under which we can rally and then put the vicious in-fighting behind us,” Chuang said.
Meanwhile, FAPA public affairs official Ray Hsieh — who works at the UN — said: “Though many second-generation Taiwanese-Americans express disinterest in Taiwanese politics, their love for Taiwan is quite genuine.”
Lai Hong-tien (賴宏典), a dentist in Manhattan and general convener for the UN for Taiwan Committee, was quoted by NBC as saying: “We aren’t naive” about the issue, adding that if Taiwan were to really entertain the thoughts of joining the UN, Taiwanese have to understand that China would take steps to prevent and deter Taiwan from achieving its goal, which could even involve resorting to military means.
All we can do now is let the world continue to know that we want to join the UN and wait for the right time, Lai said.
“Even if both sides of the [Taiwan] Strait are finally united, we would accept that result, so long as it is under the free will of the Taiwanese people and it is what they have chosen for themselves,” Lai said.
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