When it comes to international participation, few countries experience as many hurdles as does my own – Taiwan. Over the past several decades, Taiwan has transformed into a vibrant democratic society, becoming a global leader in public health and creating a world-class economy along key supply chains. Yet Taiwan still struggles to find a seat at the international table.
The People’s Republic of China has effectively blocked Taiwan’s participation in the United Nations through an intentional misinterpretation of U.N. General Assembly Resolution 2758, adopted in 1971. This resolution doesn’t mention Taiwan even once, and it certainly doesn’t mandate Taiwan’s exclusion from the global stage.
Just last month, however, Resolution 2758 was once again invoked, this time by the Central American Parliament, which regrettably decided to replace Taiwan with China as a permanent observer – a further step in Beijing’s growing sway in Latin America.
Not long ago, the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the need for more universal involvement in the World Health Organization, one of many U.N. specialized agencies. Taiwan’s experts, however, have been continuously banned from attending the annual World Health Assembly and other meetings due to Beijing’s political interference.
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As China has fabricated a legal basis within the United Nations for its claim to sovereignty over Taiwan, even Taiwanese journalists and tourists have lost access to U.N. buildings around the world. Earlier this year, the spokesperson for the U.N. secretary-general was asked about Taiwan’s routine exclusion – and he failed to provide any coherent explanation: “I will get back to you as soon as I have the answer."
The people of Taiwan resent this discrimination. There is an urgent need to stop Resolution 2758’s misinterpretation, which has not only damaged the rule of law within the United Nations but also silenced the voices of the Taiwanese people.
'We the peoples of the United Nations'
The United Nations should bear in mind that it is ruled by the peoples, not by authoritarian regimes, as its founding charter indicates in the preamble: “We the peoples of the United Nations (are) determined ... to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights.”
The legitimacy and moral authority of the United Nations to use its power is lawful only when consented to by the peoples over which that political power is exercised.
We appreciate U.S. support for Taiwan’s meaningful participation within the United Nations and opposition to Beijing’s attempts to redefine Resolution 2758. This summer, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Taiwan International Solidarity Act, a piece of legislation calling for Taiwan’s participation in international organizations.
Another encouraging example of support for Taiwan came from the Group of Seven major industrial nations on Monday, during the G7 foreign ministers' visit to attend the U.N. General Assembly in New York. Japanese Foreign Minister Kamikawa Yoko issued a statement on behalf of the G7 foreign ministers calling for Taiwan’s international participation and bringing global attention to China’s coercive activity in the Indo-Pacific region.
The statement stressed “the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait."
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Democratic government ruled by the people and for the people
As a force for good in the world, Taiwan has also been practical and tried to find other opportunities to contribute, working closely with partners who are open to supporting Taiwan’s meaningful participation on a pragmatic basis. One of the most outstanding examples of this is the Global Cooperation Training Framework, under which Taiwan, the United States, Australia and Japan jointly co-sponsor forums and workshops dedicated to tackling global challenges.
Through this platform, participant nations apply their expertise to international issues and learn from one another – an exemplary model for international participation.
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Taiwan is ready and willing to share our expertise and experience with the world, but we can only help if we’re given the opportunity.
It is our hope that the United Nations and other international organizations will soon correct their Taiwan policy and provide equal opportunity for participation to the people of Taiwan.
We will continue to demonstrate how a democratic government ruled by the people and for the people can stand strong to safeguard freedom and human rights for all.
Bi-khim Hsiao is Taiwan’s representative to the United States.
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Why did the UN stop recognizing Taiwan? They keep catering to China