By Harry Sheridon and Elsa Lycias Joel
Taiwan being a self-reliant country, there should never be a sovereignty dispute with the global bodies parroting Chinese propaganda. With the US arms sales to Taiwan, totalling more than $25 billion between 2007 and 2018, it is evident that a chartered member of the UN was only keen on its business rather than mediating anything peaceful between anybody. Shielding a country from increasingly aggressive anti-democratic forces is not possible unless and until the perpetrator is dealt with.
Whatever be the 1992 Consensus, it is time Taiwan resets its relations with Beijing. By restricting tourism to Taiwan or excluding the island from international entities that address civil aviation and global health issues, Beijing cannot force its way. As the ninth largest recipient of arms globally between 1979 and 2018, Taiwan is all set to resolve disputes, this way or that way and members of the UN ought to deliberate on who is changing the course of history and why. That authoritarian regimes cannot withstand the light of democracy is another fact known to the UN. Nevertheless, it is baffling that there is no international pressure to recognize Taiwan’s pragmatic and issue-oriented approach, give it its deserving place in the UN and let it work constructively with the UN’s specialized agencies.
Mr. Bruce Aylward’s pretence isn’t long forgotten and so will be WHO Director-General’s pro-China orientation. If the motto of the UN is to maintain international peace and security, why is it hell bent on slandering peace-loving Taiwan, which is continuously under the threat of being invaded by China? USA, the largest donor to the United Nations, contributing roughly $10 billion in 2018, slightly less than one-fifth of the body’s collective budget, can do much better to consistently coerce the United Nations and WHO to be not biased while deliberating matters of peace, security, health and humanitarian needs. Moreover, when two-thirds of the contribution is voluntary, the USA can be as loud as possible to make sure the work of the UN encompasses far more than peacekeeping and conflict prevention. As a chief guide and major funder of the organization for more than seventy years, the USA can see to it that the UN stops Beijing suffering from a sense of injustice. Can’t America play the perfect host so that members of the UN assist Beijing navigate the difficult path from conflict to peace with Taiwan?
China will continue to rattle its sabres at Taiwan till the U.S. supports a “one China” policy, which maintains that, though the People’s Republic does not hold sovereignty over Taiwan, there is only one China that includes both the mainland and Taiwan. Members of the UN are supposed to strike unique global partnerships for the sake of peacekeeping, not cow down to pressures. Any open forum for countries to discuss their opinions and views will not shut its door against a vibrant democracy which is also one of the top 10 freest economies. WHO cannot turn its back to a country that set an example for the entire world by the way they handled COVID 19. A model worth replicating or emulating, Taiwan’s big success is acknowledged by all, even by those who tirelessly work to scale down its international space.
The tiny Balkan State of Montenegro broke away from Serbia to become the 192nd member of the United Nations. After its independence from Yugoslavia, Croatia participated in the work of the UN through its permanent missions in New York, Vienna and Geneva, as well as to UNESCO in Paris. Elected as a non-permanent UN Security Council member for the 2008-2009 period, Croatia participated in 13 UN peacekeeping operations throughout the world. Recognizing Croatia’s ambitions to effectively contribute to the activities of the Human Rights Council, it was elected again for a three-year period from 2017 to 2019. What’s with alienating Taiwan? Is it because China still calls Taiwan as the ROC?
A multi-pronged strategy by China to pressure Taiwan into eventual unification cannot eliminate Taiwan’s international credibility rather reveal PRC’s capability to poach Taiwan’s diplomatic allies. The number of diplomatic allies has dwindled from 23 to 15. Yet, not engaging in “checkbook diplomacy” is testimony to a president’s courage. São Tomé and Príncipe the first chip to fall was readily grabbed by PRC for the world to gasp and gape. On the contrary, a dozen new reciprocal working holiday accords and scores of agreements also with member countries of the UN highlights growing international recognition of Taiwan’s political, economic and social development. Visa-free access to the Schengen Area in addition to various forms of preferential visa access granted by 160 countries for ROC passport holders is no small feat of diplomacy.
On the list of new Global Competitiveness Index 2019, a much-needed new economic compass, building on 40 years of experience of benchmarking the drivers of long-term competitiveness, Taiwan stands 12th with just 3 Asian countries taking the 1st, 3rd and 6th positions among all the 141 listed ones. Institutions, Infrastructure, Information and Communication technology (ICT) adoption, Macroeconomic stability, Health, Skills, Product market, Labour market, Financial system, Market size, Business dynamism and Innovation capability being the twelve pillars of the index, acquiring the 12th position with a score of 80.2 has validated Taiwan is in its best to co-shape new solutions to emerging challenges, work together with the required urgency and ambition that the world demands. Identified as one of the “win-win” spaces, there is not a need for Taiwan leadership to remain a stealth agent of Taiwan independence as assumed by PRC. China as Taiwan’s top trading partner doesn’t surprise or shock anybody because the absence of diplomatic ties does not mean a complete shut-out of all types of interactions. Since Taiwan has something to offer economically, many countries maintain a close trade relationship.
Decades back, Indonesia responded appropriately after Malaysia became a Security Council member. The then President of Indonesia strictly condemned the interference of western powers and colonial powers in the Third World affairs. By voting out Taiwan, has the United Nations General Assembly in a way spared the country from more troubles!
On the basis of an age-old agreement between Chinese National Party and Chinese Communist Party, there is no compulsion for the USA to acknowledge that “Taiwan is part of China” and America’s official position on Taiwan’s legal status is UNDETERMINED. Taiwan has no ambition to invade PRC either. The world knows that the UN needs no reminders about the status quo between Israel and Palestine. If “Palestine Authority” is accepted as an observer, why not Taiwan which is not belligerent? This world body, with its jumble of nations has given North Korea a visible platform encouraging it to respond to criticisms but rejects a nation that shows the world how much they cherish their free democratic way of life without conceding to threats and intimidation.
23.57 million people have the might and right to form their own de-jure nation, Taiwan. With its own set of government, the military, laws and the judiciary, Voices from Formosa are heard aloud and their deeds appreciated everywhere except in the UN. Diplomatic relations with 15 countries make Taiwan a legitimate autonomous political entity. Once Taiwan stops vying for international participation in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) or attempting to gain observer status in UN special agencies (such as the WHA and WHO), the UN can be sure of one thing. That is, holes will be created in the decision making and communication web as far as a universal issue such as climate change is concerned. This is one example. Known for disaster response, particularly search and rescue, emergency support to Japan after the Fukushima nuclear accident, conflict resolution and promoting health as a human right, there is no need for the UN to consider Taiwan bound by the PRC’s accession to UN conventions. Even as a non-member, unbound by the international community to uphold any commitment, Taiwan behaves determined by targeting 50% reduction of GHG from Business-As-Usual by 2050, or 30% less than 2005 emissions levels.
It is high time the UN condemns bullying and aggression of any sort and helps belligerents understand that they don’t behove such leadership. Bullies shouldn’t be let by the UN to convince themselves of their prominent role in the emerging world order or be confident that their views will always be heeded by the rich and powerful. All major trade partners of Taiwan, except China, do not consider Taiwan bound by China’s accession to UN environmental conventions and may we remember the UN has failed several times across the world mostly because of the right to veto at the disposal of five countries. It might take decades for connections to flourish just as the one with Israel. 30 trade agreements is no joke. Geopolitical shifts can make the unhappen happen. In addition to applying as a non-governmental organization, Formosa could join regional organizations to enhance the sustainable development of the environment and strike partnerships that will catalyze new trade agreements that could enhance energy and environmental security. Until then, countries including the United States of America and Canada, with which Taiwan has strong informal relations can keep pushing for Taiwan’s participation in international organizations by giving legitimacy to claims that Taiwan has the attributes of a state.
When economic growth, a secure energy supply, and a clean environment thrive at the same time in any country short of UNFCCC membership and its many benefits and even so, if it is one among the richest countries in Asia and in the world with a per capita income of $55,000, much more than its neighbour, then we call it ‘Formosa’.
Harry Sheridon has served Dr APJ Abdul Kalam (11th President of India; 2002-2007) as his Private Secretary, for over 24 years.
Elsa Lycias Joel holds a doctorate in Biotechnology and writes for The Delhi Press among other newspapers and magazines. She has a keen interest on Sociocultural, Environmental, and Health challenges facing humanity.
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