Taiwan: Taiwan merits U.N.'s Respect
President Chen's scheduled meeting with the U.N. press would mark the climax of the government's annual campaign to secure U.N. representation for our 23 million people.
This year's U.N. campaign will focus on Taiwan's right to "participate" in international organizations rather than contesting the issue of who has the right to represent "China" as long advocated by the previous Chinese Nationalist Party (Kuomintang) regime.
In line with the Chen administration's recent advocacy of a clearer identification of "Taiwan" as a country, the president's virtual meeting with U.N. journalists provides an opportunity for the Democratic Progressive Party administration to intensify its efforts to educate the international community that Taiwan is the "Republic of China" and that Taiwan's participation in the U.N. is not the problem, but the solution.
Resolution 2758 passed by the U.N. General Assembly in October 1971 recognized the People's Republic of China as the sole and legitimate government of "China" and thus granted the Beijing regime the seat in the General Assembly and, more importantly, the permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council held by the KMT regime under the R.O.C. rubric.
For over a decade, the Taiwan government has launched a series of campaigns to raise the question of a "return" to the U.N. under the R.O.C. name, but these attempts received 11 straight rejections by the General Assembly.
But getting on the General Assembly agenda is only the first hurdle that Taiwan must jump when it comes to the question of participating the U.N.
To become a new member of the United Nations, we must receive the support of at least nine of the 15 members of the Security Council, including a unanimous consent from its five standing members, which includes the PRC. Moreover, a new application requires approval by a two-thirds vote from the members of the General Assembly.
In theory, Taiwan meets all of the criteria of U.N. membership. According to Article Four of Chapter Two of the U.N. Charter, "membership in the United Nations is open to all other peace-loving states which accept the obligations contained in the present Charter and, in the judgment of the Organization, are able and willing to carry out these obligations."
But the reality is that the U.N. is an arena of political realism. Since Beijing holds one of the standing member seats on the Security Council which hold an absolute veto power over the applications of new members, there is no chance for the R.O.C. to "regain" membership.
Using 'Taiwan' to gain participation
In the face of this reality, the key variable lies in the extent to which the Taiwan government can adopt a flexible strategy that can both reflect political realities and effectively build support to overcome the obstacles to the alteration of the current "reality."
Hence, if it is evident that any attempt to "re-enter" the U.N. door under the rubric of the "Republic of China" is impossible, why should not our government utilize the progress that Taiwan has achieved in human rights and democratic consolidation as new assets to "participate" in rather "rejoin" the United Nations?
Using the name "Taiwan" to apply for new membership faces the same daunting obstacles, especially opposition from the PRC, confronted by the fruitless effort to "rejoin" the U.N. under the R.O.C. moniker.
Nevertheless, the straight-forward adoption of the name of "Taiwan" represents a growing collective will through democratic choices that the 23 million people on Taiwan want to become an active and contributing member of the world community in the future.
We therefore urge the DPP government to intensify its international campaign to adopt the name of "Taiwan" for our U.N. application. This method is the most suitable and forward-looking way to distinguish our "democratic Taiwan" from both the present authoritarian "China" represented by the PRC and the past authoritarian "China" represented by the former KMT regime.
We also urge President Chen to continue his peace-driven approach to deal with cross-strait relations as a new appeal that not only recasts Taiwan's image as a responsible and constructive member of the global village but could also win more international support.
President Chen should send a clear message to the correspondents stationed at the United Nations and to the world that his recent cancellation of the final showcase session of the annual Han Kuang military exercise manifested Taiwan's goodwill to pursue peace across the Taiwan Strait.
The cancellation should draw more worldwide attention to the PRC's relentless military saber rattling against Taiwan's full-fledged democracy and also communicate the message that Taiwan's 23 million people and their DPP government do not desire or anticipate war, but place peace at the center of our hopes and policy.
Even more importantly, President Chen should note that his pledges in his May 20 inaugural speech on the establishment of a peace and stability framework with the PRC is consistent with the purposes of the United Nations.
To wit, Taiwan is also committed "to maintain international peace and security, and to that end: to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace, and for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace, and to bring about by peaceful means."
Finally, President Chen should stress to the U.N. correspondents that what the Taiwan people need and desire is "respect."
Chapter One of the U.N. Chapter 1 states clearly that the organization's aim is "to develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, and to take other appropriate measures to strengthen universal peace."
Our 23 million people, who have exercised their domestic right of self-determination by replacing an authoritarian and externally imposed regime with a democratically elected government of their own choosing, merit respect and a chance to be represented in the world community.
Our bid for U.N. membership has a long way to go, but cannot be reversed and will be realized eventually through pragmatic adjustment in strategy and determined effort to achieve this goal.