Leave no one behind? Taiwan asks UN why it’s still not welcome
MANILA, Philippines — After the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) saw the worlds’ leaders gather in an unusual manner due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Taiwan has raised some old but pressing questions before the council:
If the UN pleads to leave no one behind amid the health crisis, why is Taiwan still facing discrimination from the international body?
This question was mentioned in a letter from Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in the Philippines Representative Peiyung Hsu, who noted that Taiwan can do more and further help other countries during these trying times.
“The UN has ‘pledged to leave no one behind as the world looks to recover from the pandemic’ while it continuously works to achieve its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It is therefore ironic that this vision does not include Taiwan, a vibrant model of democracy and a model for handling the COVID-19 pandemic,” Hsu said in his letter sent by TECO to INQUIRER.net on Friday.
“The UN’s discriminatory policy against Taiwan has prevented the country from making significant contributions to the welfare of the international community and providing valuable information to the UN system and its members,” he added.
During the UNGA last Wednesday, which President Rodrigo Duterte attended for the first time, discussions focused on how to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, with various countries offering solutions including the much-anticipated vaccine.
But the UN stage ironically did not have Taiwan despite being ranked by The Lancet COVID-19 Commission as the first among 91 countries in terms of suppressing viral transmissions, cementing its status as one of the most resilient countries in fighting the pandemic.
As of now, Taiwan is not a UN member because like the World Health Organization, it adopts a one-China policy that considers the People’s Republic of China (PRC) as the only China, and Taiwan as merely a province of the said country.
The issue between Taiwan and China goes as far as their civil war in the 1940s, which pitted nationalist Chiang Kai-shek and his Kuomintang against Mao Zedong’s communist party. After the communists seized control of a large part of mainland China, Chiang relocated his government to Taiwan.
China’s Communist Party which until now rules over mainland China claims ownership of Taiwan, which has since developed into a technological and cultural hub. However, Taiwan asserts that they were never under the control of PRC, as its government has been independent of the Asian superpower.
Due to the sovereignty issues, various organizations and countries adopted a one-China policy, with consideration for mainland China. This has left Taiwan outside of most international bodies.
However, Hsu said that including Taiwan in the UN now would enable them to help countries even more as there would be no barriers between the sharing of information, especially as Taiwan manages to steer clear of the coronavirus despite its proximity to mainland China.
“Despite the years of discrimination and isolation, Taiwan is always ready and willing to lend a helping hand wherever it is needed. Taiwan is also playing a major role in spearheading development-centered initiatives that are very much in line with the SDGs,” he said.
“Through its partnerships with many other countries and organizations, Taiwan has joined forces with like-minded democracies, including the Philippines, to explore the development of COVID-19 vaccines,” he added.
This is not the first time Taiwan sought membership in the UN during the pandemic. Last August, Taiwan’s Foreign Affairs Minister Joseph Wu said that they are baffled as to why they remain excluded from the UN, despite the pandemic clearly showing the difference between them and PRC.
He also noted that multilateralism — a view stressed by the UN during the global pandemic — means letting Taiwan in and help.
“The world needs the spirit of collaboration, once again we call on the United Nations to take prompt action to accept Taiwan’s 23.5 million people into its fold so as to create a brighter, more inclusive, and more sustainable post-pandemic era,” Hsu said. [ac]
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