Civic groups and academics yesterday criticized President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration for disregarding the bid for UN membership under the name Taiwan and warned that Ma’s inaction on the diplomatic front would jeopardize Taiwan’s sovereignty.
“While Taiwan is a de facto independent country, we need to work hard to make it a de jure independent country and applying for membership of the UN under the name of Taiwan is the only way to do this,” the nation’s former representative to Japan, Koh Se-kai (許世楷), told a symposium.
The symposium, titled “Taiwan, UN and UN affiliations,” was organized by the Taiwan New Century Foundation and endorsed by the Taiwan United Nations Alliance (TAIUNA).
Koh and other academics at the symposium said the “diplomatic truce,” a strategy Ma has trumpeted as his solution to reduce cross-strait tensions since he took office in 2008, is likely to have projected the false perception to the international community that Taiwan is part of China.
“However, while a truce should involve both sides laying down their weapons, China has never stopped squeezing Taiwan’s international space, nor has it dismantled any of the more than 1,600 missiles it has aimed at Taiwan,” said Lee Ming-jun (李明峻), secretary-general of the Taiwanese Society of International Law.
From the perspective of international law, Lee said, expressing a wish to declare independence and establish a new country is a natural right that must be respected and protected.
Taiwanese need to have their voices heard constantly within the international community, TAIUNA secretary-general William Lo (羅榮光) said, adding that “simply expressing our wish [for UN membership] lets the world know that Taiwanese want independence and Taiwan is not part of China.”
Voices were loud and clear during former president Chen Shui-bian’s (陳水扁) Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration, Lo said, as evidenced by the involvement of more than 400,000 people in the September 2007 “UN for Taiwan” rally held in Kaohsiung, while at the same time more than 4,000 Taiwanese Americans staged a simultaneous rally in New York City.
The Ma administration has done nothing for the bid, opting instead for a strategy of “meaningful participation in the UN and its affiliations,” Lo said.
The strategy was dangerous because it would overshadow people’s call for de jure independence, he said.
Ma’s policy has also failed in practice, Lo said, as “everyone knows that Taiwan’s participation in the World Health Assembly and other international organizations requires Chinese approval.”