Friday, August 31, 2007

Oh Snap!


The CIA World Factbook that is. In a recent letter to the editor published in the Taipei Times, UPenn Lauder Professor of International Relations Arthur Waldron shed light on the self-contradictory nature of Deputy Secretary of State Negroponte's recent criticism of Taiwan's proposed UN membership referendum. According to the CIA World Factbook, the nomenclature for Taiwan works this way:

conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Taiwan
local long form: none
local short form: T'ai-wan
former: Formosa

Which begs the question (and Waldron does beg it), how can the U.S. view Taiwan's campaign to use its common name in the UN as a change in the status quo, when Taiwan is the only name that the federal government's own agency uses? As Professor Waldron puts it:

In other words, the US does not even list "Republic of China" (which suggests Chineseness) as a possible name for your [the Taipei Times'] country (though we do list "Democratic People's Republic of Korea" for North Korea, which we do not recognize diplomatically). Instead, for decades we have insisted on "Taiwan" exclusively, which indicates to me that use of that name has long been integral to the "status quo."

Given this fact, I would like to respectfully ask the US deputy secretary of state to suggest the appropriate name to be used in your UN application. Or perhaps the problem is not the name, but rather the possibility that your [Taiwan's] 23 million people might be represented there?
Exactly. Enough with the outrageous excuses, Taiwan has explained time and time again that using the name Taiwan is not a change in the status quo, as long as the country's official name stated in the constitution remains "Republic of China". All of China's huffing and puffing about a move towards independence is nonsense, and should be treated by the U.S. as such. Membership in the United Nations does not mean a country is somehow consecrated as a permanent entity. The possibility for voluntary, peaceful unification would still remain if Taiwan were allow to join the UN. East and West Germany did just that in 1990.

Unfortunately the inconsistency that Professor Waldron points out by citing the World Fact Book also exists within the Factbook itself. As Waldron relates, the CIA has placed Taiwan second to bottom on its otherwise alphabetical list, presumably suggesting that Taiwan is a special case or not quite a legitimate country. Furthermore, the description of Taiwan's "Political Pressure Groups and Leaders" reads:

"Goals of the Taiwan independence movement include establishing a sovereign nation on Taiwan [done] and entering the UN."

So one can see at least one section (the names) in which the Agency has, knowingly or not, endorsed Taiwan's viewpoint, and other sections where it has chosen a more "Chinese" point of view.

If the Administration wants Taiwan to back down on this issue because they are worried about China resorting to violence, then by all means they ought to come out and say that. However, for them to suggest that Taiwan is bringing China's unsubstanitiated accusations and irresponsible threats upon itself is not only inconsistent, it has the potential to marr the reputation of the United States.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Exchange over Referendum Continues

Taiwan's Foreign Minister James Huang expressed his dipleasure with Dep. Secretary Negroponte's remarks over the proposed referendum on UN membership in Taiwan. This from Rti's website:

Taiwan's Foreign Minister James Huang said that he is disappointed with Negroponte's comments. Huang said that the referendum is not an attempt to move towards independence or towards altering the status quo. He said that it is just a way for the Taiwanese people to express their views.

Also, the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) appears to be undaunted, if unhappy about the recent remarks coming out of the US, reports die Deutsche Presse-Agentur:

Taiwan's ruling Democratic Progressive Party said Wednesday it would mobilize in mid-September 1 million people both in Taiwan and abroad to rally for island's bid to seek UN membership and hold a referendum on the issue.

"We will hold a rally in Kaohsiung on September 15 to promote our cause," party secretary-general Lin Chia-lung declared, adding he expected half a million people to show up for the event in the southern port city.

Another 500,000 overseas supporters are expected to join the party in staging rallies in various parts of the world simultaneously, he said.

He slammed the United States, Taiwan's informal ally and biggest arms' supplier, for trying to block the island from holding a referendum on joining the United Nations in the name of "Taiwan."

. . . Taiwan's foreign ministry on Wednesday reiterated that the UN referendum had nothing to do with the island's desire to change its status. Spokesman David Wang said it was the most democratic and peaceful way for Taiwanese to express their wish to join the United Nations.

While expressing regret over Negroponte's remarks, Wang said his ministry will continue to communicate with Washington over the issue.

Negroponte's remark is the strongest warning US officials have made so far against Taiwan's upcoming UN referendum.

Finally, Rpi reports that both presidential candidates from Taiwan's two major parties have weighed in on Negroponte's comments.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Follow up on Negroponte interview

Statements made by Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte yesterday during an interview with a Chinese television news journalist are being seen by many as a slap in the face for Taiwan -- as the UN General Assembly meeting approaches and debate over the national referendum proposed for next spring continues. The Financial Times' Kathrin Hille explains it this way:

Speaking during an interview with a Chinese television network, Mr Negroponte said: "We oppose the notion of that kind of a referendum because we see that as a step towards the declaration – towards a declaration of independence of Taiwan, towards an alteration of the status quo."

. . . The US previously had only said that it opposed the plan because it appeared aimed at changing the status quo across the Taiwan Strait. Calling it a step towards a declaration of independence would be in line with official comments from the Chinese government.

Observers said Mr Negroponte's appearance should be understood as a move to
demonstrate to China that Washington was raising the pressure on Taipei. "Phoenix broadcasts mainly to the Chinese mainland. So it does not take much interpretation to see that this is a message aimed at a Chinese audience," said a US diplomat.

Whether this move will placate or embolden Beijing remains to be seen. Meanwhile, the editorial department of the Taipei Times hit back with some fierce critiques of the United States' recent position over Taiwan's campaign for UN membership and the proposed referendum. The Times expressed exasperation at the continuing prospect of American politicians and diplomats taking a patronizing tone towards Taiwan and suggesting that the country focus on strengthening or consolidating its democratic system (an objective they seem to believe attaining membership in the UN doesn't fall under).

We think the editorial went too far by sarcastically disparaging American democracy throughout the piece, and finishing by saying the issue "begs the question: Who should be advising whom on the need to further one's democracy?" Yet point taken. Comments by American officials and leaders on the supposed need for Taiwan to "consolidate" its democratic system are just red herrings that meagerly attempt to suggest that Taiwan somehow isn't ready to participate in the UN.

Dep. Secretary Negroponte clarifies US position

Yesterday, Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte gave a short interview to Naichian Mo of Hong Kong-based Phoenix TV. Below is the transcript (minus the niceties at the end, to see the original transcript on the State Department's website, click here):

QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. Secretary, for speaking today with Phoenix Television
regarding the latest political developments in Taiwan. In June, the State Department indicated that the U.S. opposes Taiwan holding a referendum on whether to apply for membership in the UN under the name of Taiwan, and called for President Chen to reject such a referendum. However, President Chen has announced that he and his party will continue to push for the referendum. So what would the U.S. do now to make sure that peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait will not be further disturbed?

DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: Let me first say that Taiwan has no better friend than the United States. We strongly support Taiwan's democracy. We support their economy. We're very impressed by their vibrant economy. And we're also, as you know, committed to the defense of Taiwan through the Taiwan Relations Act.
So when we talk about the situation in regard to Taiwan, we talk about Taiwan in the context of a great friendship. But when it comes to this issue of a referendum as to
whether or not Taiwan join the United Nations in the name of Taiwan, we do have
great concerns. We oppose the notion of that kind of a referendum because we see that as a step towards the declaration -- towards a declaration of independence of Taiwan, towards an alteration of the status quo. And I would recall that in the past President Chen has made commitments to the American President, to the international community, and to the people of Taiwan not to take any kind of
steps that would represent a unilateral alteration of the status quo, such as a change in the official name of Taiwan.

QUESTION: And what would be the consequences for Taiwan if it continues to push for the referendum? Will the U.S. downgrade its economic or military cooperation with Taiwan?

DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: Well, I don't -- I wouldn't want to get into that kind of a hypothetical discussion at this particular time. But what I would like to
emphasize is that we believe it's important to avoid any kind of provocative steps on the part of Taiwan. And we believe that pursuing a referendum of this kind could, as I said earlier, be interpreted as a step towards a declaration of independence, and we do not believe that that would be a constructive way on the part of the Taiwan authorities to pursue their interests.

QUESTION: You mentioned that the U.S. is committed to defend Taiwan, but Senator Warner mentioned once in a hearing that if the conflicts across the Taiwan Strait were precipitated by the wrong policy of Taiwan's officials, then the U.S. may not use full force to defend Taiwan. What's the U.S. view?

DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: Well, these are the kinds of questions -- they're hypothetical questions that are very difficult to address before a specific situation might arise. You're correct in saying we're very committed to the defense of Taiwan under the Taiwan Relations Act. We wish the peoples and authorities on both sides of the Taiwan Strait to pursue their objectives through peaceful means.
And it's this kind of spirit that we're encouraging the authorities of Taiwan to adopt as they address this question of a referendum -- which, as I said earlier, we consider to be a mistake.

QUESTION: Thank you. My last follow-up: Some people argue that Taiwan is actually declaring independence in slow motion, and the U.S. stated that it does not support Taiwan independence. But Taiwan is a democracy. How can -- how much can the U.S. do to stop or reverse Taiwan's slow drift toward independence? Does it concern you that Taiwan's domestic politics is sliding out of the U.S. hands?

DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: We feel that this is a time for the authorities in Taiwan to behave in a responsible manner, to behave in a way that would advance the interests of Taiwan while, at the same time, not disturbing the situation across the Taiwan Strait. So I think there's a way of doing that, of pursuing their democracy, pursuing their vibrant economy, benefiting from the friendship, the strong friendship of a country such as the United States -- and we are certainly committed to continuing that. But we believe that it has to be done in a serious and responsible way.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Taiwan's worthiness

This op-ed piece is by Minister Shieh Jhy-wey of Taiwan's Government Information Office and was published this morning in the Washington Times - to view the original article, click here.

Taiwan's Worthiness

Proclaiming the determination of Taiwan's 23 million people to take their rightful place in the family of nations, President Chen Shui-bian submitted an application for membership in the United Nations to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on July 19. In response, a U.N. secretariat spokesperson told the press on July 23 that Taiwan's application "could not be received and was, thus, returned" in keeping with "the one-China policy of the United Nations" supposedly enshrined in General Assembly Resolution 2758.

This behavior is shocking, both for its arrogance and its ignorance.

The U.N. Charter and U.N. procedural rules unambiguously stipulate that the secretary-general shall immediately refer membership applications to the Security Council. The Security Council must deliberate the matter and make a recommendation to the General Assembly, whose members are to discuss the matter and vote on it. Therefore, with the aforementioned action, the U.N. secretariat has in effect co-opted the deliberative and decision-making powers of the U.N. member-states.

Equally disturbing is the fact that this action taken by the U.N. chief grossly misconstrues both the nature of Taiwan's membership application and the import of Resolution 2758. Taiwan's application in no way constitutes a challenge to the right of the government of the People's Republic of China (PRC) to represent China, nor does Resolution 2758 state that Taiwan is a part of China.

After suffering under martial law over the course of 38 years until 1987, the people of Taiwan have since then created a vibrant democracy. Taiwan was rated Asia's most free country by Freedom House in its "Freedom in the World" 2006 report.

Perhaps U.N. officials have been misled by the past actions of the now-defunct, authoritarian party-state government of the Republic of China (ROC). The old regime, led by Chiang Kai-shek, claimed that it was the sole legitimate government of China. Unwilling to coexist with the PRC in the U.N., it withdrew from the world body in 1971 just before Resolution 2758 was passed.

The democratic government of today's Taiwan makes no such claim to govern China, and it is quite happy to coexist and cooperate with the PRC government in every way possible. Although our country is still saddled with the official name "Republic of China," the great majority of us identify ourselves as "Taiwanese" and call our country "Taiwan" — as, indeed, virtually everyone else in the world does.

For this reason, and in order to underline the fact that Taiwan makes no pretense of vying for the right to govern China, Mr. Chen's application requests "the admission of Taiwan," not the Republic of China, "as a member of the United Nations." This follows the well-established precedent set by current U.N. member-states of participating in the U.N. and other international organizations under names that differ from domestically used or constitutional names.

Irrespective of the status of Taiwan, the Taiwan Strait is indisputably one of the world's most dangerous flashpoints. Given that China continuously threatens to launch a war of annexation, has deployed a thousand missiles targeted at Taiwan and refuses to talk directly with the democratically elected government in Taipei, it devolves to the United Nations to fulfill its role of international peacekeeper in the region. At the very least, the United Nations should facilitate communications between all parties who have a stake in preserving peace in East Asia before a crisis situation develops.

U.N. organizations and officials must therefore cease allowing themselves to be intimidated by the totalitarian PRC government into making unwise decisions. In particular, they must stop kowtowing to Beijing's claims concerning the status of Taiwan. Taiwan is not a province of the People's Republic of China, nor is Taiwan part of a "divided China" comprised of PRC and ROC segments.

The U.N. Charter mandates membership for all states. Taiwan is indisputably a sovereign state, having for nearly six decades fulfilled all of the criteria for statehood stipulated in the 1933 Montevideo Convention. Unlike the PRC, Taiwan is also a state in which sovereignty rests in the hands of the people, as prescribed by the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Therefore, all nations that champion the rule of law, freedom and human rights are morally bound to support the cause of U.N. membership for Taiwan. We will never trade freedom for tyranny.

Monday, August 20, 2007

What Sport! A Zesty Exchange of Views over Taiwan in the 50th State.

Below are the links to three articles (in chronological order) that constitute a recent spat over the status of Taiwan and whether or not the United States should come to the aid of Taiwan in the event of a P.R.C.-R.O.C conflict. All three appeared over the course of about a week in the Honolulu Advertiser, the first two an exchange between a columnist and a professor in the paper's "Commentary" section, and the last a letter to the editor in which Lin Yu-chong of the Taipei Times weighed in on the issue, later saying, "In my view, keeping silent on Lee's assertions can be seen as agreeing with his viewpoints."

"U.S. must defend Taiwan against China". by Richard Halloran

"U.S. likely won't defend Taiwan from China". by Oliver Lee

"Taiwan cannot be taken by force". by Lin Yu-chong

Debates over whether or not the United States should aid Taiwan in the event of a conflict almost always return to the question of the historical case for Taiwan's sovereignty, which is why we believe it fitting to share these articles here. Many of the arguments that appear in these three articles also appear again and again in the debate over whether Taiwan has a right to UN membership.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Op-ed: Taiwan's statehood is undeniable

An op-ed posted today on the Taipei Times website and written by Chen Lung-chu, chairman of the Taiwan New Century Foundation, president of the Taiwanese Society of International Law, and a professor at the New York Law School:

Taiwan's statehood is undeniable

In terms of international law, Taiwan has not been a part of China since 1895. Taiwan has ecome a country through a continuous process of evolution. In the process of democratization and Taiwanization -- and thanks to the effective self-determination of its people -- Taiwan has evolved from a territory under military occupation following World War II to a country with the sovereignty and independence of a nation-state. This theory of Taiwan's evolution into a state conforms to historical developments, changing political conditions and the dynamic character and principles of international law. I support this theory of evolved nationhood, which I described previously on this page ("The evolution of Taiwan's statehood," Aug. 9, page 8).
There are other theories regarding Taiwan's international legal status in addition to the evolutionary theory of statehood.

One theory is that Taiwan is part of China. This is what the People's Republic of China (PRC)argues, citing history, the Cairo Declaration, the Potsdam Declaration, succession to the Republic of China (ROC), UN General Assembly Resolution 2758, and that "Taiwan is an internal affair of China," to support its position.

Yet Beijing's argument fails the tests of both reality and international law, for the following reasons.

One, Taiwan has been fought over by foreigners for hundreds of years, while the Taiwanese have battled for their existence and self-governance. There have been the indigenous peoples and the Han Chinese, the Dutch and Spanish colonial empires competing over Taiwan, Cheng Cheng-kung's (鄭成功) family dynasty, the nominal rule of the Qing dynasty (which ceded Taiwan to Japan shortly after making it a province), the brief establishment of the Republic of Formosa, 50 years of Japanese colonial rule and the military occupation following World War II.
Taiwan has evolved into a sovereign and independent nation. Clearly, Taiwan has not been "an inseparable part of China since ancient times."

Two, as for ownership of Taiwan's territory, the Cairo and Potsdam declarations were overridden by the 1951 Treaty of San Francisco with Japan. The Taiwan that Japan gave up in the treaty, including the Penghu Islands, belonged to neither the PRC nor the ROC. No wonder Beijing has avoided bringing up the treaty, which carries the most weight in international law.

Three, when the PRC was established on Oct. 1, 1949, the ROC had "militarily occupied" Taiwan on behalf of the Allied forces but not acquired sovereignty over or ownership of Taiwan. It is impossible for the PRC -- nor does it have the right -- to inherit powers that the ROC never had.

Four, UN Resolution 2758 does not accede that Taiwan is a part of the PRC.

Five, since its founding the PRC has never effectively controlled, ruled or exercised jurisdiction over Taiwan. By international law, Taiwan is not an "internal affair of China" but a question of international concern.

Taiwan and the PRC are two different countries, therefore the dispute over Taiwan's legal status involves interpretations of international agreements and international law; the PRC's threats toward Taiwan jeopardize peace in the Asia-Pacific region and the world; China's "Anti-Secession" Law violates international law; and Taiwan's future involves the effective implementation of the principles of self-determination enshrined in international law, and will affect the fundamental human rights and wellbeing of 23 million Taiwanese.

The second theory about Taiwan's international status is that it was left undetermined. According to the Treaty of San Francisco, which took effect in 1952, Japan officially gave up all rights, title and claims over Taiwan. Yet the treaty did not stipulate who Taiwan would belong to.

Thus, Taiwan does not belong to China, and its international legal status is still undetermined.
The ideal way to resolve this problem is to apply the principle of self-determination of the people stipulated in the UN Charter by holding a national plebiscite under the auspices of the UN and let the people of Taiwan decide. But international and domestic political constraints have prevented this from happening. Therefore, there are still many proponents of this theory today.

The third theory is that Tai-wan's position was undetermined in the past and remains undetermined now. Some say Taiwan is still under the military occupation of the ROC; some say the US has sovereignty over Taiwan because it was the main victor over Japan; still others think sovereignty over Taiwan belongs to the Taiwanese people, but that Taiwan still is not a country because the ROC has not ceased to exist and the Taiwanese government has not declared independence.

This theory is a rigid interpretation of international law, and ignores that the formation and application of international law is dynamic. There have been major developments worldwide since 1952, just as there have been in Taiwan. Taiwan's international position cannot be frozen as if it were still 1952.

As Taiwan's international position has evolved from undetermined to determined, the expression of the Taiwanese collective democratic has played a crucial part in the successes Taiwan has achieved.

Even if Taiwan's position remains undetermined and it continues to be occupied by the ROC, one cannot ignore the reality that the ROC has undergone "Taiwanization" which has changed the nature of its military occupation.

The US never advocated having sovereignty over Taiwan after Japan gave it up at the end of the war. The Taiwan Relations Act treats Taiwan practically as a country.
Since Japan gave Taiwan up, the assertion that sovereignty belongs to all of its residents conforms to the principles of sovereignty being in the people and self-determination enshrined in international law.

Is the ROC extinct? When did it die? Opinions are especially divided on this issue. As Taiwan has evolved into a sovereign nation, it is worth considering whether or not it needs a US-style declaration of independence. Applying to become a member state of the UN using the name "Taiwan" is both in form and substance an active declaration that Taiwan is a sovereign and independent country.

The fourth theory is that Tai-wan has de facto independence, but it still does not have de jure independence.

The standards for differentiating between de facto and de jure independence are quite vague. Is it determined by the quality and size of the countries that recognize the country? Or what degree of universal recognition must be reached before a country has de jure independence? From the examples of the more than 100 countries that have achieved independence over the past half century, this kind of differentiation has become meaningless.

According to international law, countries enjoy sovereign equality and independence regardless of their size, strength, wealth, which countries recognize them or how many diplomatic allies they have.

Taiwan has evolved from an occupied territory into a country, but it is still not a normal country. The reality is that Taiwan represents our state and the "Republic of China" is an illusory title which creates divisions in national identification and makes it more difficult for Taiwan to progress internationally. The international community uses the name "Taiwan" but objects to Taiwan's government and its people using that same name, which is utterly unreasonable.

Taiwan needs to normalize itself. Turning Taiwan into a normal country both in name and in fact is the true path for Taiwanese to follow.

translated by Marc Langer

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Korea Times: Taiwan's Bid to Join UN

Frank Ching authored an editorial that ran today in the Korea Times. An excerpt follows:

For months, President Chen Shui-bian has been talking about the importance of holding a referendum to see if the 23 million people of Taiwan would support the government applying to join the United Nations not under its formal name, the Republic of China, but under the name Taiwan.

So vigorously has Chen championed this cause that even the opposition Nationalist Party, or Kuomintang, is now in favor of holding a referendum on the island joining the United Nations and the name that it should use.

However, any referendum, if it is going to be held, will not be conducted until next year, probably in conjunction with the presidential election in March. It came as something of a surprise, therefore, to discover that President Chen has jumped the gun and sent a letter to the United Nations Secretariat applying to join the United Nations, and to do so in the name Taiwan. If he could do this anyway, without benefit of a referendum, then why was there so much fuss about holding a referendum?

Also, in the past, Taiwan did not submit an application until September, when the General Assembly begins its annual session. This time, why did Chen not wait for September when it can be done properly by going to the General Assembly rather than approaching Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon?

The answer to both questions is politics,

As you may have gleaned from this opening narrative, the editorial is more than a bit critical of the tactics employed by Chen and the R.O.C. government during this year's UN membership campaign. Although we don't agree with much of what Mr. Ching says, it is often useful to consider different opinions concerning issues as complex as this one.

Some things that strike us as inaccurate or misleading in this Korea Times editorial include:

1. The government of Taiwan's decision to apply under the name "Taiwan" rather than the country's official name has been a decision based on efficacy, providing an alternative to past efforts conducted under the official name which have consistently been criticized and denied. Taiwanese officials have consistently assured skeptics that the government's official name remains "Republic of China", as set forth in the government's constitution. Furthermore applying under a more commonly used name (Taiwan is surely the more commonly used name) is not without precedent: both the Swiss Confederation and the Republic of Macedonia go by commonly used yet unofficial names in the United Nations (Switzerland and Macedonia, respectively).

2. There is no reason to believe that submitting Taiwan's application to the UN earlier than usual this year provides a bigger boost to the DPP's presidential candidate than it would have if it the application campaign had begun at the usual time. As Mr. Ching states himself, the application in the past was submitted in September, and presidential elections on Taiwan do not take place until March. If this year's application is solely a political stunt (as Ching suggests), Chen could have easily waited for the usual time to roll around and still would have had plenty of time for such political posturing to work its magic.

3. Mr. Ching suggests that Beijing hasn't publicly criticized Taiwan much recently because China's government recognizes that this only shifts the PR balance in Taipei's favor (this may indeed be true). Yet he would have us believe that, during this pause in criticism, Beijing has some how arranged to have Washington to all the 'dirty work' for them. We are fairly certain this isn't the case.

4. There are indeed many things different about Taiwan's application for UN membership this year, not just the time of year and the name used. Taiwan recognizes that their past strategy, faithfully repeated annually for fifteen years, hasn't been working. This year's change in tactics is in order if Taiwan is to have any hope of joining the UN. As we've mentioned in earlier posts, the government has even endorsed a popular metal band from Taiwan in hopes of drumming up publicity for this year's campaign.

Finally, to turn Mr. Ching's argument on its head, one thing that is certainly different about the campaign this year is the man acting as UN Secretary-General. Is there any reason to believe that, if Kofi Annan were still Secretary-General, Mr. Annan wouldn't have faithfully forwarded along the application to the General Assembly (as the Secretariat has always done)? Would he have really tossed out the 2007 application because it is August and not September? Of course Mr. Ching bringing up the time of year in the first place is fallacious. Ban Ki-moon's Secretariat rejects this year's application by citing UN Resolution 2758 rather than a wall calendar. Ban Ki-moon's denial of President Chen's request is a reaction that is not just unprecedented, more importantly it is legally flawed.

To us, Secretary Ban's reinterpretation of Resolution 2758 parallels allegations in the United States of Supreme Court Justices "legislating from the bench". When it comes down to it, Secretary-General Ban has overstepped his authority under the UN Charter, and you can expect Taiwan to persist in this year's application until their case is at least considered for addition to this year's General Assembly agenda.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Article:'Taiwan' submits second U.N. bid

by Allen Hsu

to see the original article on the Taiwan Journal website, please click here

ROC President Chen Shui-bian submitted a second application for Taiwan's membership of the United Nations after the first was rejected by the U.N. Office of Legal Affairs July 23 based on U.N. Resolution 2758, Taiwan's Office of the President stated Aug. 1.

Chen wrote two letters July 27, one to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the other to Wang Guangya, China's permanent U.N. representative who, in July, held the rotating post of president of the U.N. Security Council.

The letters were delivered July 31 through the U.N. permanent representatives of the Solomon Islands and Swaziland, two of Taiwan's diplomatic allies, the OOP said.

"Resolution 2758 neither grants China the right to represent Taiwan's 23 million people at the United Nations, or states that Taiwan is either a part of China or the People's Republic of China," Chen reiterated in his letter to Ban. Taiwan was an independent sovereign nation, he continued, and its people had the right to participate in the world body, as stipulated in the U.N. Charter.
Only the Security Council and the General Assembly, rather than the Secretariat, had the authority to review and decide on U.N. membership applications, Chen noted. "Our membership application should be duly processed in accordance with relevant rules of procedure of the United Nations."

In his letter to Wang, the president recounted that the United Nations aimed to maintain international peace and security, boost amicable relations among nations and make international cooperation possible. "Taiwan subscribes to this purpose and is willing and able to fulfill the obligations expected of U.N. members," Chen stressed.

Wang returned the letter the same day he received it, Taiwan's Central News Agency reported Aug. 3, and was quoted by China's Xinhua News Agency as calling Taiwan's U.N. bid "a very serious separatist act seeking independence for Taiwan," the CNA reported.

Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council solemnly protested Wang's rejection Aug. 2. China ignored Taiwan's existence, denied its legal status and democratic development, deployed missiles against it, attempted to diplomatically subjugate Taiwan in the international community and had changed the status quo of the Taiwan Strait, the MAC stated. The world should take seriously the perilous situation that China's military buildup was causing, it claimed.

U.N. permanent representatives from five of Taiwan's diplomatic allies--Palau, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, the Solomon Islands, Swaziland and El Salvador--also wrote to Ban Aug. 2 and to Pascal Gayama, Congo's U.N. permanent representative who was president of the U.N. Security Council for August.

China's Diplomacy: "Soft" vs. "Hard" Power

Anyone familiar with Taiwan's quest for representation in international orgs like the UN and WHO knows well that the largest obstacle for Taiwan is Beijing's economic influence over the international community. Yesterday in the Washington Times Steven W. Mosher explained the nature of China's diplomatic power in his review of Joshua Kurlantzick's new book, Charm Offensive. He argues that Mr. Kurlantzick improperly uses the term "soft power"—a term originally used to describe America' Cold War influence on people watching the West from behind the Iron Curtain—to classify the power China excersizes over developing countries and established dictatorships today. Here are some excerpts from Mr. Mosher's review:

In fact, one can name a corrupt, dictatorial regime anywhere in the world — and Mr. Kurlantzick names many — and its closest major ally is invariably the People's Republic of China, all too ready to supply guns, butter or comradely encouragement to defy the United States...

...What he [Kurlantzick] disarmingly calls a "charm offensive" based largely on China's supposedly growing "soft power" is in reality something far more ominous: It is the deliberate targeting of poor, developing nations with a potent combination of state-driven investment, trade, arms sales and aid (including bribes to high officials and secret subsidies to political parties), with the aim of cementing the allegiance of governing elites to Beijing...

...There is almost no resemblance between [the concept of 'soft power'] and China's current efforts to buy influence. While China's brand of Leninist capitalism and its disdain for human rights may attract favorable notice from dictators, even here China's new clout is fundamentally based on what Mr. [Joseph] Nye called "the hard power of threats or payments."

That is to say, it is in return for football stadiums, public works projects, exchange programs, generous aid packages, not to mention support in controversies with the United States and U.S.-led international organizations, that leaders in dozens of countries are cozying up to China. We are witnessing an excersize in hard power, not soft.

Mr. Mosher does a good job in this review of capturing the misleading nature of China's diplomatic activities worldwide—a 'schmooze ruse' that apparently also misled Kurlantzick in his evaluation of Beijing's growing influence. China has been ever-increasingly throwing its economic weight around, not by benevolently investing in disadvantaged countries for the betterment of humanity, but rather by bolstering diplomatically isolated or struggling nations in a very calculated way—making it clear to the leaders of those countries that they are expected to tow the China line in return.

China's use of hard economic power has solidified Beijing's influence over international organizations and confounded efforts by the West to isolate inhumane and irresponsible governments. Hopefully, Taiwan and other countries/regions detrimented by China's economic realpolitik will be able to convince the United States and other leading nations that it is in our best interest to check this growing form of Chinese power. Herein lies the most feasible path to the international participation Taiwan seeks.

Friday, August 10, 2007

More ChthoniC Material

Michael Turton at The View From Taiwan hipped us to an NPR interview given by ChthoniC's lead singer Freddy Lim (Freddy, Left Face of Miradou) at affiliate station KQED in in Mountain View, CA. Here are a few words from the press release on ChthoniC's main page:

At the Mountain View, Calif. stop of the Ozzfest tour last month, National Public Radio affiliate KQED-FM interviewed the Taiwanese band ChthoniC, the first-ever Asian extreme metal act to take part in hard rock’s longest-running annual tour. The interview, which first aired on KQED’s nationally syndicated weekly “Pacific Time” program on Aug. 2, can be streamed on the station’s website...

...The seven-minute piece features vocalist Freddy Lim discussing the inspiration behind the group’s current “UNlimited Taiwan” tour, as well as interviews with a Taiwanese information minister and even several fans who attended the Mountain View Ozzfest.

Check it out:

Thursday, August 9, 2007

If This Doesn't RoC Your Boat, We Don't Know What Will...

Applying for UN membership under the name "Taiwan", as opposed to "Republic of China (Taiwan)" isn't the only new approach you'll be seeing this year as Taiwan's government makes another go at equal international status. Taking alternative campaigning to the extreme, Taiwan's government has partnered up with the band ChthoniC—a Taiwanese melodic black metal group that has been referred to as "the Black Sabbath of Asia." ChthoniC recieved the Golden Music Award for Best Rock Group in 2003 and this year they are the first Asian band to tour with Ozzfest, the annual hard rock summer tour that is on the road until the end of August.

Combining their Ozzfest appearances with independent shows while they tour around the U.S. this summer, ChthoniC has created their own hybrid tour that goes by the handle "UNlimited Taiwan" (UN-limited Taiwan, get it?!). We're buying the T-shirt. One might question the effectiveness of such unconventional PR marketing when seeking membership in a world body such as the UN, but we urge you to consider comments posted on tour-related sites by enthusiastic new American fans saying things like, "i want to say that i am glad you are taking a stand against the U.N. for their abusive negelect to your home country. keep fighting and let them feel the power of the taiwanese typhoon!", and, "soon all will hail Taiwan, the Underworld, And ChthoniC". [ROC the Boat would like to remind you that we do not explicity endorse said hailing of the Underworld, nor the Over-, Middle-, or Netherworld for that matter]

For the UNLimited Taiwan tour, ChthoniC has released a single that goes by the same name and can be heard on their MySpace page. There is also a cool short film posted there that goes with the music.

We don't listen to much hardcore metal in our free time (bebop anyone?), but upon visiting ChthoniC's MySpace site and listening to some tracks, we were at least able to appreciate the group's originality in blending black metal with traditional Chinese instrumentation and Taiwanese folklore. So in that spirit, we leave you with this touching quote from the good folks at Rock My Monkey:

“If you love extreme music, but demand quality with the brutality, then check Chthonic out!”

Tawian was going to purchase 66 F-16 fighter jets from the U.S. - then they realized they could just add this guy (Jesse, The Infernal - guitar) to the payroll...

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

The 2007 UN Bid To-date

It would make sense to begin with a recap of what has happened with Taiwan’s campaign for UN membership so far this year:

On July 19 Taiwan’s President Chen Shui-bian submitted a letter to the Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon—via two Taiwan-friendly UN members—appealing for the consideration of Taiwan for UN membership. The letter, however, never officially made it to the Secretary-General’s office, as it was turned away by the UN Office of Legal Affairs citing Resolution 2758.

We are sure that Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is very busy man, but we can only hope that he has at least unofficially reviewed President Chen’s letter for his own personal edification at some point in the past two weeks. In any case, why the UN Office of Legal Affairs opted to make such a flawed argument while blocking this request—from even being considered by the Secretary-General—is beyond our understanding. Since then, many pro-Taiwan groups and even some United States officials have pointed out that the UN Secretariat is out of line on at least two levels: 1) it is the Secretary-General’s responsibility to dutifully forward requests for membership to the General Assembly for that body’s consideration, and, 2) Resolution 2758 makes absolutely no mention of the political status of the island of Taiwan, merely rejecting the notion in 1971 that Chiang Kai-shek’s government lawfully represented China within the UN.

Below are links to UN General Assembly Resolution 2758, President Chen’s letter to the Secretary-General, the UN Secretariat's statements on the subject and a few newspaper articles on the topic:

UN Resolution 2758

President Chen of Taiwan to UN Secretary-General Ban

Spokesperson's Noon Briefing, 23 July 2007

Highlights of the Noon Briefing, 23 July 2007

"UN legal affairs office rejects 'Taiwan' bid." Taiwan Journal. 27 July 2007.

"Allies accuse Ban of violating UN protocol." Taipei Times. 5 August 2007.

There have been some other interchanges since, but the rejection of President Chen’s letter so far seems to us to be the main thing.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Who We Are

This posting marks the launch of a new web log dedicated to analyzing and promoting Taiwan’s place in the international community and the organizations thereof. As the Republic of China begins its annual UN membership campaign this summer, this time using the name Taiwan, we intend to monitor and comment on affairs as they unravel as well as the politics behind this ongoing international debate. Please feel welcome to comment on postings and call ‘em like you see ‘em. We’re not looking to change the status quo, we just want to ROC the boat!