Why Taiwan’s UN participation is for the Global Good
The global community is confronting a number of unprecedented crises: from the ongoing challenge of COVID-19 variants and stalled efforts on climate change, to supply chain disruptions and Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. Now more than ever, China’s increasing rhetorical and military intimidation is jeopardizing regional peace and stability. All these will impact security and well-being of the world. As the UN members meet again in New York this year, it is worth reminding these leaders that all people—including the people of Taiwan—deserve to have their voices heard and to be part of the collaborative effort to tackle these challenges for the global good.
A beacon of democracy in Asia and a force for good in the world, Taiwan is a valuable partner that can help overcome these global challenges. Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Taiwan has provided humanitarian support across the globe, including much-needed masks and medical supplies, as well as developing and sharing its homegrown vaccine. Taiwan also sent over 550 tons of relief supplies to the people of Ukraine following the Russian invasion of their country, in addition to making over US$40 million in donations for Ukrainian refugees.
Further, Taiwan is committed to combating climate change, with a blueprint for net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 and policies in place to help achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals. As the world’s 22nd-largest economy in terms of GDP and a major semiconductor manufacturer, Taiwan plays a key role in global supply chains. And as a defender of democracy, Taiwan is working to safeguard the status quo and support the rules-based international order. While China is using coercion to export its brand of authoritarianism abroad, Taiwan lets its free and open society lead by example.
Sadly, Taiwan is unable to participate in the largest and most important forum of global cooperation due to the relentless suppression by the People’s Republic of China (PRC). By deliberately conflating its “One China” principle with the UNGA Resolution 2758—the resolution that determined who represents “China” in the organization some 50 years ago—Beijing is misleading the world by spreading the fallacy that Taiwan is a part of the PRC. Contrary to these false claims, the resolution does not take a position on Taiwan, nor does it include the word “Taiwan.” The long-term status quo is, the ROC (Taiwan) and the PRC are separate jurisdictions, with neither subordinate to the other. The people of Taiwan can only be represented in the international community by their free and democratically elected government.
The wrongful interpretation of UNGA Resolution 2758 has long deprived Taiwan of the right to participate in the United Nations and its specialized agencies, and it has also denied the international community of an opportunity to benefit from Taiwan’s contributions. Worse yet, the PRC’s efforts to rewrite Taiwan’s status at the UN further undermine global peace and stability. Beijing’s recent dangerous military maneuvers surrounding Taiwan is a case in point.
The UN Charter states clearly that the purposes and principles of the United Nations are to maintain international peace and stability, and that international disputes should be resolved by peaceful means. However, Beijing continues to conduct military exercises in areas around Taiwan, undermining the status quo in the Taiwan Strait, escalating tensions, impacting international trade and transportation, and putting regional peace and security at risk. Such irresponsible actions need to be condemned and brought to a halt. Given the current circumstances, it is even more important that UN and its member states stop allowing such a member, which ironically is a member of the UN Security Council, to dictate the positions of the organization to suit its own political agenda. Acquiescing to China’s wrongful claims over Taiwan will only destabilize the region, which is also against the very purpose of the UN.
Taiwan will resolutely defend its sovereignty and security. As a responsible member of the international community, Taiwan will also continue to exercise restraint in response to China’s provocations, and work together with like-minded countries to uphold peace and stability in the region. And as we have shown the world over the years, we will continue to fulfill our international responsibilities by actively engaging with and contributing to the international community.
The theme of the 77th session of the UN General Assembly, “A watershed moment: transformative solutions to interlocking challenges” pointedly reminds us of the grave challenges facing the international community: the COVID-19 pandemic, food and energy shortages, disrupted global supply chains, and climate change, the list goes on. When the UN talks about “joint solutions” and “solidarity” to tackle “interconnected crises,” we could not agree more. Taiwan is more than willing and able to be part of such joint solutions. And the 23.5 million resilient Taiwanese people surely should not be excluded from such important global efforts.
We are thankful that countries worldwide are beginning to realize what Taiwan can offer and many support Taiwan’s robust participation in the UN system. Among them, the European Parliament overwhelmingly approved a resolution on July 6 this year expressing support for Taiwan’s meaningful participation in international organizations. The G7 countries have also expressed similar support. In particular, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken publicly encouraged all UN member states to join the United States in support of Taiwan’s meaningful participation in the UN system last October.
Our shared obstacles require all hands on deck. Those grave interconnected crises cannot be resolved until the entire world comes together. Taiwan has proved to be a reliable and indispensable partner, and the people of Taiwan stand ready to contribute. Let’s work together as one for the global good!
[The author is Minister of Foreign Affairs, Republic of China (Taiwan)]