Friday, September 28, 2007

Taiwan, Burma, China, and U.N.—Is the U.N. controlled by China?

How influential China can be in the U.N.? Two cases might give us the answer and some insights.

This year, once again, Taiwan's U.N. bid was not included in General Assembly agenda, and Taiwan suffered another setback in its quest for representation in the world body.

When the U.N. General Committee met to set the agenda for the General Assembly's 62nd session, discussions were made on whether or not to include—as a supplementary item on the agenda—a motion filed by 16 of Taiwan's formal diplomatic allies last month requesting that the Security Council process Taiwan's membership application. However, China expressed its strong and brutal opposition to include this issue into the agenda. As Taiwanese, we were wondering why the U.N. is always restricted by China’s every move and fails to end political apartheid. In any case, the Taiwanese government and its people will continue to call on the world body to stand behind the principle of equality and to grant U.N. membership to democratic Taiwan.

This critical issue—the fact that the U.N. is restricted by China—manifests itself again when the political crisis is worsening in Burma at this very moment.

US President George W Bush has led international condemnation of Burma for its crackdown on the mass protests, and he also announced a tightening of US economic sanctions and a ministerial meeting involving the Americans and the 27 European Union countries called for UN Security Council action, ensued by an informal gathering.

Ban Ki-moon's envoy, Ibrahim Gambari, was urgently dispatched by the secretary general in the hope that he can get into Burma and speak to all sides. Nevertheless, it is still hard to see what practical and significant impacts these steps will create.

The US and the EU have long imposed sanctions against Burma's military regime. However, it is paradoxical that some countries, including China, India and Russia, still have trading relations with the military regime, not to mention Russia even plans to sell a nuclear research reactor to Burma.

More importantly, as Burma's biggest neighbor, China plays the most crucial role in this matter, on the grounds that China, for its own strategic interests, aims to maintain the stability of Burma and its strong ties with Rangoon. It can be seen evidently that as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, China keeps helping to limit the relative isolation or sanctions that the Rangoon military regime needs to face.

Meanwhile, the strengthening of the relations between Burma and China also has prompted India to establish stronger ties with Burma's military regime, so as to counter-balance China's growing influence over the region.

Furthermore, Burma's energy resources—oil and gas fields—have caught everyone’s attention and made Burma such an attractive trade and strategic partner for Chinese, Indian and Russian governments and firms. Ironically, Burma's energy resources make it almost impossible to isolate the Rangoon military regime.

Indeed, so far the US and European ties to Burma have declined, while those of China, India and Russia have increased. As such, China has become the key player of this issue. However, Beijing has begun to face pressures when the 2008 Beijing Olympics is approaching. China not only needs to maintain its energy and strategic access to the Indian Ocean via Burma, but also has to keep its own stability and good reputation abroad.

Yet, few days ago China's U.N. ambassador Wang Guangya readdressed China's standpoint that Burma’s crisis was not a threat to international peace and sanctions would not be helpful for dealing with the problem. As Burma’s most important ally, China still refused to condemn the military regime.

In our opinion, the U.N. needs a stronger voice for Burma and Taiwan issues. It is a pity, however, from the aforementioned two cases one can see a weak U.N. that is strongly influenced by China and China’s allies. Mr. Ban Ki-moon once declared that “Our changing world needs a stronger UN.” We urge the U.N. to take stronger action to deal with the unfair treatment Taiwan has been suffering in the world body and against Burma’s military regime and those countries that protect Burma only for their own interests!


Greg said...

Do you think that an Olympic boycott would help persuade China to act?

Dr. T said...

I personally do hope so. However, the boycott needs certain consensus and coordination of various agencies in the international community. This blog will keep an eye on this issue. Thank you!