Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Taiwan Seeking peace and Human Rights in UN Bid (Part I)

By any definition, Taiwan is a sovereign country, yet it continues to be excluded from international organizations such as the United Nations. The democratic island nation's strained relations with its communist neighbor, the People's Republic of China, has turned the Taiwan Strait into a "flash-point" as potentially dangerous as the Middle East or the Korean Peninsula. Looking to protect peace and stability in East Asia, Taiwan now proposes that the UN take a proactive role similar to its actions in Lebanon and Korea to reduce cross-strait tensions.

Washington, D.C.: What kind of support have you gotten from the United States on past UN bids?

Dr. Chih-cheng Lo: Unfortunately, nothing. The US does not support Taiwan’s membership at international organizations where “statehood” is a requirement. To be frank, I don’t think that is a right policy on the part of US government.

Trenton, N.J.: Could you explain how China works to keep Taiwan excluded from the UN?

Dr. Chih-cheng Lo: China uses both sticks and carrots to affect other countries’ attitudes on Taiwan’s UN bid. For instance, by giving foreign aid, Beijing has been wooing other countries to support its stance. For another instance, China sometimes uses trade and economic retaliation against others who support Taiwan.

Berlin, Germany: In the past few decades, Taiwan has grown up rapidly both in economy and politics, though without a seat in the UN, is it that necessary to campaign to participate in the UN again?

Dr. Chih-cheng Lo: It is precisely because Taiwan has grown in economy and politics that we wish to be a normal country recognized by the international community and able to contribute our achievements to the world. For example, Taiwan has been numbering a number of agricultural and medical foreign assistance projects, and we feel that our projects could be much more effective if coordinated with the various UN agencies.

Rockville, Md.: Under UN's current decision making system, China has veto power. And based on international real politics, it seems there is no hope for Taiwan's UN bid. Where does your confidence come from?

Dr. Chih-cheng Lo: We will never know. Taiwan (ROC) had the veto power at the UN Security Council before 1971. But China (PRC) still entered the UN that year. So, Taiwan has to keep trying. We never know what will happen in the future. Remember, nobody predicted the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Singapore: Taiwan seems to be tying this year's campaign to join the U.N. to human rights. Could you explain how Taiwan has come to see representation in the UN as a human rights issue?

Dr. Chih-cheng Lo: There are many functional international organizations under the UN umbrella. For instance, the WHO is a special agency under the UN. Because of Taiwan’s exclusion from the UN, Taiwan has been excluded from the world health system. So, you see the linkage between Taiwan’s UN membership and human rights issues.

Toronto, Canada: My husband and I visited your country a few years ago and fell in love with what we saw and were charmed by its friendly people. My question is, why has China been blocking Taiwan bid for so long when it knows its actions will only alienate the Taiwanese?

Dr. Chih-cheng Lo: You are absolutely right. China’s efforts in isolating Taiwan internationally only alienate the Taiwanese people. Beijing may believe that what it has been doing will force Taiwan to come to China’s terms. But, that is counter-productive. Anyway, thanks for your support. And please visit Taiwan again.

Christchurch, New Zealand: I have a two-part question. Are there any legal precedents that might help a contested territory like Taiwan join international organizations like the UN? How did Taiwan manage to join the World Trade Organization with its contested status?

Dr. Chih-cheng Lo: Good question. Both East Germany and West Germany were members of the UN before they were reunified in 1990. North Korea and South Korea are now both members of the UN. Unfortunately, China is playing a zero-sum game.

(Excerpts from Viewpoint, a live discussion forum on

No comments: