Sunday, September 10, 2006

Taiwan UNrepresented

Once again, the international pariah and anomaly that is Taiwan is attempting to get into the UN. Yes, this self-governing, democratic, economically prosperous and free society is not a member of the world organisation of states. The reason: China’s claim that Taiwan is not a state but part of its sacred and inviolable territory, as much as Tibet is. This is despite that China has never actually ruled over the islands of Taiwan or the people for a single second.

Year after year, Taiwan’s application to the UN is thrown out because frankly China’s membership of the Security Council can silence all talk on Taiwan’s admission. So, year after year, Taiwan and its people are left out of the international community, and unable to fully enjoy the rights and exercise the duties of being a fully-fledged member of the world.

When SARS struck, the country received no help from the international community. When the threat of avian flu loomed (and still is looming), nobody invited Taiwan to international conferences on how to tackle the threat. These are blatant violations of the universal right of every human being to enjoy health, life and security, regardless of where they are from and where they reside.

China’s belligerence towards Taiwan, and the constant threat of invasion and war, is not a concern for the people of the country, but also for the rest of the world. As one of the last theatres of the Cold War, China’s claim to Taiwan comes at odds to the United States’ role in East Asia, and threatens the regions stability. Being at the crossroad of Asia, Taiwan’s geostrategic position is vital to the world’s economic and political interests. The world needs to recognise Taiwan’s role as a member of the international stage in maintaining security and peace and preventing escalation and weapons proliferation. And this needs to be done before any conflict has the opportunity to begin.

Taiwan, as a successful democracy and economic powerhouse, is often cited as a miracle for other developing countries to follow. The country has abundant resources and know-how to share with the rest of the world. But Taiwan’s continual isolation is a continual bar on achieving those goals.

This year the theme of the campaign is based on human rights. No where else in Asia has been able to secure great advances in human rights than Taiwan within the last couple of decades. The people are free to elect (and recall) their own representatives and president. The press is free to report on any news or scandal without having to fear of being hounded by the government. The state is increasingly providing social and economic welfare to ensure that everyone has a firm and equal footing and can share the benefits of progress. Rights for minority groups like homosexuals, aborigines, and disable people are increasingly being enshrined in the legal system, one which is free from political interference. One right that Taiwan has not been able to fulfill is the right of representation in the international community. And it is the international community itself that must grant Taiwan this right.

Please sign an online petition to show your support for Taiwan.

A piece I wrote back in 2000:

When the inhabitants of [Taiwan] were rocked out of their sleep late September last year, they woke to find their home destroyed by a deadly earthquake. Tears and blood have since dried, but most painful of all was the inability of a world body, which prides itself to protect all men, women and children, to respond to a humanitarian crisis. As 2,500 victims lay underneath the rubble, longing for that glimmer of hope, the world looked on. Those 2,500 people died.

Where was the United Nations, when a task which obviously required her assistance was at hand? Her members were nowhere to be seen, for they ‘busied’ themselves with empty discussions on whether to help a non-member nation! It is difficult to imagine, but here is the shock that 23 million world citizens can be shunned into the shadows of non-existence, on the grounds of politics. The words of “freedom, justice and equality for all” ring hollow inside the UN headquarters. Those are mere myths, kept barely alive through the constant reiteration of a holy mantra, yet killed by the very people who promise to protect them. Taiwan’s exclusion from the ‘world’ body is in direct violation of its principles and international law. For half a century, Taiwanese have anticipated the right to self-determination, guaranteed to them by the world body after the Second World War. Today, they still await a dream yet to be realised, in the process, bearing the full brunt of threats and manipulations from countries who contend to swallow her. How can it be that Taiwan, with a population and territory larger than two-thirds of UN members, is not entitled to exist as an equal actor on the world stage? How can a free democracy with a prosperous economy be treated like an international pariah? Have the Taiwanese committed a crime so criminal that they be barred from freedom for life? No. They only seek to coexist peacefully and share their wealth and intelligence with the world, in order to tackle the torrents of tension and trouble, confronting all of us tomorrow. That is too much to ask for.

There are states utterly insignificant, but they are part of the UN. There are states utterly repressive, but they are part of the UN. There states which blatantly violate international principles, but they are part of the UN. Taiwan is none of the above, yet she is not part of the UN. International politics is bizarre and twisted, dominated by those who are right, because they have might. Millions of voices calling for fair treatment cannot possibly overwhelm the useless debates held at social gatherings of world leaders, who shamefully claim to embody universal rights and dignities.

“All states are equal, yet some more so than others…”

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