FOREIGN AFFAIRS: by Osman ChiaNews Weekly
End the UN political stand-off against Taiwan
, October 9, 2004
The exclusion of Taiwan, a democracy of 23 million people, from the United Nations - despite the fact that it is represented in a range of other international organisations, such as APEC, the International Olympic Committee and the World Trade Organisation - may be encouraging Beijing's sabre-rattling towards its small neighbour, says Osman Chia.The United Nations is committed in its Charter to the ideals of world peace, international co-operation, as well as human rights and fundamental freedoms for everyone. The principle of universality is enshrined in Article 4 of the Charter.
However, the 23 million people of Taiwan are completely silenced within the UN family.
The refusal to include Taiwan in the UN is tantamount to political apartheid, deserving prompt attention by nations that truly believe in democracy and universal values, in particular freedom and human rights.Achievements
With 23 million people living on a land of nearly 36,000 sq. km (roughly the size of the Netherlands), Taiwan has made astonishing accomplishments over the past two decades, especially in political reform and economic development.
Over the past several decades, the people of Taiwan and the UN have shared the same values. So why is Taiwan still outside of the UN?
After the communist People's Republic of China (PRC) was established on mainland China in 1949, the government of the Republic of China (ROC) relocated to Taiwan.
Since then, the two sides of the Taiwan Strait have been governed separately, with neither having any jurisdiction over the other.
From 1949 to 1971, the question of the PRC's representation in the UN was disputed, while the ROC was one of the permanent members of the Security Council.
On October 25, 1971, the UN General Assembly passed resolution 2758 (XXVI) and gave the ROC's seat to the PRC. The net result of resolution 2758 was to solve the issue of UN representation of the PRC, but left Taiwan in limbo.
Since Taiwan is an independent sovereign state with a government elected by the people, no other individual person or government can claim legitimately to represent the people of Taiwan.
Unfortunately, however, many countries subscribe to a fiction known as the "one China principle".
This policy was invented in Beijing, to insist, despite the facts, that Taiwan belongs to China and that China represents the people of Taiwan.
To this end, the PRC has been obstructing Taiwan's participation in the UN and other important international organizations.
Besides the injustice of this tactic, it gravely and directly infringes on the welfare and human rights of the people of Taiwan.
What has Taiwan been doing without a seat in the UN?
Taiwan has not lost hope and maintains its determination to attain equal rights and participation in international organisations.
Since 1993, the government has vigorously called international attention to Taiwan's predicament, although this has provoked louder protests from China.
Taiwan is fortunate enough to have the support of diplomatic allies, privately funded organisations, and foreign friends who sympathise with Taiwan.
Moreover, as a responsible member of the world community, Taiwan regularly makes humanitarian contributions to various international "trouble spots".
Taiwan has also joined international efforts against terrorism by attending the Counter Terrorism Task Force (CTTF) under the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), the Asia-Pacific Group on Money-Laundering (APG) and the Egmont Group.
The exclusion of Taiwan from the UN is detrimental in many aspects. As could be seen during the outbreak of SARS in 2003, which first appeared in Guangdong, China, this exclusion can have serious global consequences.
The PRC's activities in the WHO meant at first Taiwan could not receive immediate updates and assistance provided by the WHO. This seriously undermined Taiwan's ability to protect its own people, and global efforts to quickly contain the spread of the disease.
Taiwan hopes responsible members of the world community will look squarely at the issue and support restoring to the people of Taiwan their long lost rights.
Australia, a democratic nation known for its fairness and egalitarianism, and its intolerance for unfairness, should recognise the truth in Taiwan's claim, and support its quest for participation in the UN.
- Osman Chia is information director of the Taipei Economic & Cultural Office in Australia.