The most authoritative -- and internationally accepted -- definition of the nation state is given in the 1933 Montevideo Convention on Rights and Duties of States, to which the US is a signatory. The convention gives the following qualifications for recognition as a nation state: One, a defined territory, two, a permanent population and three, a government capable of entering into relations with other states.
Taiwan fulfills all these requirements: It is thus a nation-state. Indeed, it has diplomatic ties with 24 -- albeit small -- countries.
Recognition by other nations, however, is not a pre-condition.
If Wilder would go back into the history of the US, he would find that for the first few years of its existence, the US was not recognized by any nation and that it only attained the number of 24 diplomatic ties in 1848 -- some 72 years after the Declaration of Independence. Was the US therefore not a nation-state during that time?
In the case of Taiwan, the issue is also clouded by the fact that until only 15 years ago, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) still claimed to be the rightful government of China.
That claim was indeed not recognized by the international community.
However, following its remarkable transition to democracy in the early 1990s, Taiwan is now a free and democratic nation and its government deserves to be internationally recognized as such. We should not let Taiwan's future be held hostage by either the unsavory legacy of the KMT's repressive rule or the dictates of the Chinese Communist Party.
Taiwan is a full-fledged democracy of world citizens who want their country to be a full and equal member in the international community.
If we are serious about supporting democracy around the world, then we need to nurture the nation's fragile democracy and support its desire to join international organizations such as the UN and the WHO.
Taiwan can join the UN if the US and other Western nations have the political will to stand up for their basic principles of human rights and democracy.
Tuesday, September 4, 2007
This in the Taipei Times today from Gerrit van der Wees of the Taiwan Communiqué: