The US should try to amend the rules of membership for key international organizations so that Taiwan can join them, a new study by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) says.
Written by CSIS Asia expert Bonnie Glaser, the 50-page report Taiwan’s Quest for Greater Participation in the International Community makes a series of wide-ranging recommendations.
It also reveals that a senior People’s Republic of China (PRC) official told a visiting CSIS delegation three months ago that China prefers to find a “comprehensive solution” to the issue of Taiwan’s international space.
“One precondition is that Taipei must express or demonstrate through concrete actions that Taiwan adheres to ‘one China,’” the report says.
The official told CSIS: “If we can feel [Taiwan’s] sincerity on this issue then giving Taiwan international space can be good for reunification.”
The report says that it “remains unclear” what Taiwan has to do to show sincerity and Beijing “reserves the right” to determine whether or not Taipei has done so.
It says that Beijing recognizes that blocking Taiwan’s international space could further weaken President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) popularity at home and reduce domestic support for his policy of improving cross-strait relations.
Moreover, China wants to win the hearts and minds of the people of Taiwan, the majority of whom attach great importance to the issue of international space, it says.
The US should, in consultation with the PRC and other countries, seek to revise or amend the charters or rules of membership for key international organizations so that Taiwan can join in some capacity without raising sovereignty matters, Glaser says.
“Given their respective influential statuses within international organizations, the US and China have significant leverage to execute such changes,” she says.
In addition, Glaser says the US should help Taiwan to make the necessary structural adjustments so it can make gains toward Trans-Pacific Partnership standards. It should support Taiwan’s expanded role in organizations in which it is already a party, and emphasize to Beijing that it hurts its own goals with Taiwan by its “begrudging approach” to the issue of Taiwan’s international space.
China should provide greater support for Taiwan’s international space to further its broader cross-strait policy and work with the US to find suitable terminology and implement changes in organizational charters or rules, she says.
China should also provide “unqualified support and assistance” for Taiwan to participate in the regional economic integration. process.
“Taiwan’s ambiguous international status has long complicated its ability to participate in international organizations in which the rest of the world shares information and makes critical global decisions,” Glaser says.
“Being barred from international economic organizations erodes Taiwan’s international competitiveness and hinders economic liberalization of the domestic economy, as well as its further integration regionally,” she says.
Glaser says the US, Japan, Canada, Australia and many countries in the EU support a larger role for Taiwan in the international community.
In all, she makes 12 recommendations for action by Taiwan, five for China and five for the US.
Beijing has blocked Taiwan from joining many international organizations — particularly those that require statehood for membership — because it fears that membership might encourage Taipei to seek independence.
“Taiwan is left out of the loop,” Glaser says, adding that many states are unable or unwilling to risk “Beijing’s ire” by lobbying on Taiwan’s behalf, she says.
Taiwan’s ability to pursue and expand its international footprint is limited by the unique challenges it faces, particularly ambiguity surrounding its statehood and relations vis-a-vis Beijing, the study says.
China is fearful that as Taiwan’s global participation independent of China continues to grow, the nation could use its increased space to push for de jure independence, Glaser says.
“This fear exists despite the fact that Beijing’s considerable economic and political influence in the world makes it extremely unlikely that Taipei could leverage its presence in international organizations to achieve independence,” she says.