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Politics & Security

EDITORIAL | Taiwan’s Exclusion from the UN System is the World’s Loss

Taiwan possesses advanced technology in public health and other areas. To block its participation at China’s behest undermines the UN’s work.

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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on October 26 called for the “robust, meaningful participation” of Taiwan in United Nations activities. Other UN member states have publicly backed the idea. 

Taiwan has been among the best performing nations in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. Nonetheless, in May, due to strong-arming  by the Chinese government, the World Health Assembly of the World Health Organization (WHO) refused to allow Taiwan to participate on an observer basis. 

The world was thus deprived of the opportunity to learn from Taiwan’s stellar efforts in responding to the deadly virus. 

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken

Blinken said that “Taiwan’s meaningful participation in the UN system is not a political issue, but a pragmatic one.” He added, “Taiwan’s exclusion undermines the important work of the UN and its related bodies, all of which stand to benefit greatly from its contributions.”

Blinken makes an absolutely valid point.

The island nation of Taiwan has a population of 24 million. It is counterproductive in the fight against the global pandemic for UN organizations to treat such a large entity as a “blank space” on the map. 

Director General of the WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (Salvatore Di Nolfi/Keystone via AP)

Taiwan possesses advanced technology not only in the field of public health, but in a number of other areas as well. The United Nations and all UN agencies should view it as part of their responsibility to take advantage of what Taiwan has to offer for the sake of prosperity in the world as a whole. 

Japan supported Taiwan’s bid for observer status within the WHO, but its efforts fell short. We cannot continue to allow the WHO to remain under Beijing’s thumb, or for UN-affiliated organizations to keep excluding Taiwan. Japan should immediately express support for Blinken’s position. 

Flags of countries participating in Interpol-Taiwan should be here, too.

We should also clearly call for Taiwan’s participation in the annual conference of the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) before it meets in November. There should be no “blank spaces” on the world map, if we are to achieve international cooperation in the fight against crime. 

We especially want to gain the cooperation of as many nations and regions as possible in dealing with the cybercrime issues that are of such concern today. 

As might be expected, the reaction of the Chinese government to Blinken’s call was excessive and abnormal. A spokesperson at the Chinese embassy in Washington, DC, lashed out at Blinken’s proposal, declaring it violated the “one China” policy and that it was “totally unacceptable” to Beijing.

During the recent online East Asia Summit, US President Joe Biden criticized China’s “coercive” behavior towards Taiwan. He also indicated that the United States would help protect Taiwan from military pressure.

In September, China and Taiwan, one after the other, applied for membership in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CP-TPP). If Taiwan were to gain entry into the free trade partnership, this economic group would become one of the handful of multilateral frameworks in which it is currently allowed to participate. Japan should wholeheartedly support Taipei’s membership bid. 

If China were to gain entry to the CP-TPP first, without a doubt it would veto Taiwan’s entry. Japan should adopt a resolute position and move forward. 

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(Read the Sankei Shimbun editorial in Japanese at this link.)

Author: Editorial Board, The Sankei Shimbun