Why Taiwan’s entry into the UN should be welcomed and facilitated
It is time for Taiwan, a bubbling democracy practicing competitive politics with a mature rule of law, to present its model of governance to the rest of the world.
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen. Image courtesy of Twitter
Four recent events shed light on the question of Taiwan’s entry into the United Nations. The first is the 50e anniversary on October 25 of UN resolution 2758 which brought in China (People’s Republic of China) in place of Taiwan (Republic of China). In its legal, psychological and media war, China reminded many countries of this event, but also warned them not to expand relations with Taiwan, even as the risks of conflict with the United States on the issue increased. .
Second, China’s brazen show of force with more than 150 fighter jets and more in its arsenal to intimidate Taiwan’s 24 million people into surrendering. More than 3,000 sorties have been carried out to coerce Taiwan in the past year. This follows Beijing’s policy of âreunificationâ, âone country, two systemsâ, â6 noâ and others. President Xi Jinping also pledged to “break the head” of anyone defying China’s orders. This is a radical departure from what Mao Zedong told Edgar Snow in 1936 that Taiwan should become independent.
The third is the recent statement by United States President Joe Biden on the âsold stoneâ commitment to Taiwan’s security. US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken went further and said on October 26 that “We encourage all UN member states to join us in supporting Taiwan’s strong and meaningful participation throughout the system. of the United Nations and in the international community â. Previously, the Trump administration had lifted all self-imposed restrictions on meeting Taiwanese officials and started sending health and finance officials to Taipei.
Fourth, while Taiwan has more than 100 de facto diplomatic missions around the world, including more than 50 UN members, these are mostly grouped under the economic and cultural centers of Taipei offering consular, commercial and investment. China has insisted that other countries follow its Olympic formula of âChinese Taipeiâ as a way out of the mess. However, Lithuania recently changed the name of the Taiwan representative office to âTaiwanese officeâ – suggesting that a new formation is being formed which could eventually gain momentum not only with a hundred other such offices around the world, but also at the UN as well. Taiwan is now recognized by 15 countries, up from 22 in 2016.
While China has opposed such representation in the UN or other bodies and has in fact lobbied to reduce Taiwan to multilateral institutions such as the International Civil Aviation Organization and the World Health Assembly, Taiwan has also been trying to become a member since 1993. This was scuttled by the UN General Committee ostensibly under pressure from Beijing. As China expands its influence in many UN bodies, its influence is increasing day by day in the functioning of the UN, its impact also spilling over into Taiwan’s efforts.
When Taiwan occupied the seat of the UN Security Council from 1945 to 1971, and as it became difficult to enter the UN, a provocative Prime Minister of China, Zhou En-lai, even thought to create a ârevolutionary UNâ alternative, in vain. China’s revolutionary policies, contempt for the UN and its resolutions, non-participation in arms control and disarmament under the UN and indeed implication in the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and others were cited among the reasons for refusing to join China earlier.
A number of conditions are imposed on the entry of a new entity into the UN, such as “membership” generally based on the exercise of sovereignty, “powers” based on contribution to humanity. and ârepresentativenessâ based on population, territory and others. In other words, a candidate state must indicate its “universal” appeal and “responsibility” in the provision of public goods and services such as humanitarian disaster relief, rescue operations, peacekeeping or others in order to join the UN. Debates around Palestine before and now over the Taliban, Kurds and others point to the above dilemmas.
While Taiwan qualifies on many of the above criteria, much of the problems with joining the UN lie in the myopic outlook of its own leaders, in addition to the highly sectarian policies pursued by China. The Kuomintang (KMT), which lost the civil war with the Communists in 1949 and moved to Taiwan, claimed to be the representative of all Chinese (at the time over 600 million!) From 1945 to 1971.
The KMT also followed authoritarian policies in Taiwan until 1986, hardly distinguishable from policies in China. In addition, the KMT signed the “1992 consensus” with the Chinese Communist Party that there is only “one China”. Although more than 90 percent of islanders today identify as âTaiwanese,â the above historical background haunts them in addition to having no clear political and strategic vision.
Taiwan is today a bubbling democracy practicing a competitive policy with a mature rule of law and contributes almost half of the world’s computer hardware. This is the addressing of the novel coronavirus has won accolades around the world not only for its non-intrusiveness, but also for the high level of professionalism of its medical system. Its exposure to transparency in all aspects of the pandemic fight contrasts sharply with the situation across the Strait. It is then time for Taiwan to expose its model of governance to the rest of the world.
The writer is professor of Chinese studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University. The opinions expressed are personal.