Wednesday, May 18, 2011

WHO Farce Reaches Next Level

Letter from Taiwan to WHO, Chi/Eng comparison
Letter from Taiwan to WHO, Chi/Eng comparison
Letter from Minister of Health, ROC, to WHO, about the name mess. Click on them to go to Flickr to see larger version.

The Ma Administration's response to the WHO flap reached a new low as the Minister of Health -- well, I'd like to say fired off a letter but I really don't know what verb phrase to reach for here. Anyway, somehow this marvelous communication was forwarded to its proper recipient, and was duly made public, where it immediately became the target of widespread laughter.

For it shows, more brilliantly than a PhD-length piece ever could, the Ma gov'ts contortions in trying to serve Beijing and get elected at the same time.

In the English translation, whenever the term "the nation", "our country", etc appears in the Chinese, the Minister substitutes "my" and "I" and "our". For example, the opening sentence in Chinese expresses the nation's utmost dissatisfaction with a policy that was no doubt negotiated by the KMT in the first place, in the English version, "I" am expressing utmost dissatisfaction. Similarly, down in paragraph six, "our nation's delegation" becomes "my delegation."

In paragraph two there is an interesting moment -- the term ROC is never used and the sovereignty of that nation is never insisted upon -- indeed, the author never names what nation he represents -- in English the writer refers to "the Department of Health of Chinese Taipei" but in Chinese the mysterious, never to be named nation appears as "Our nation's Department of Health". Taiwan appears a couple of times in the stock phrase "23 million people of Taiwan," as well as "Taiwan and its adjacent waterways and islands" and of course in the complaint itself. His signature says he is an official of "Chinese Taipei."

It is hard to imagine what the government was thinking -- did they not realize that anyone could compare the two letters to see how they handled the issue of ROC/Taiwan sovereignty and how they represented themselves to the WHO? Didn't any of the political appointees think of the coming election? Because it sure looks like they were stumbling over themselves to appease Beijing. Indeed, Ma himself, and his administration, often appear weak and floundering -- here was an opportunity to act tough at no cost, since the WHO isn't going to change its policy on Taiwan. Instead, they weaseled, and confirmed everyone's worst opinions.

Lost in this attempt to fog over what Taiwan is, the Minister is dead right on one point: the WHO is in violation of its own regulations in placing responsibility for the health of the Taiwanese with Beijing rather than with the Taiwan government (see paragraph 2). The WHO looks even worse for the wear.

Amazingly, a US official actually weighed in on the debate, even with a gaggle of Chinese brass in the US to re-establish mil-mil ties. Yes, the US Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, had a few words for the WHO:
US Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius said yesterday that no UN agency has the right to unilaterally determine Taiwan’s status. Sebelius’ remarks came amid ongoing controversy over Taiwan’s designation in the WHO.


“We have made it very clear to the WHO and I think the United States’ position is that no organization of the UN has a right to unilaterally determine the position of Taiwan,” Sebelius said on the sidelines of the World Health Assembly (WHA) in Geneva when asked by press about the matter. “It needs to be a resolution that includes China and Taiwan in a discussion and we would very much welcome that road forward.”
We made it clear to the UN appears to be an oblique reference to the flap in 2008 when then-President Chen Shui-bian sent a letter to UN Sec-Gen Ban Ki-moon indicating Taiwan's interest in joining the world body and Ban erroneously responded that Taiwan was considered part of China by the UN. The US warned Ban that this was not the position of the United States nor other powers. Note that Sebelius' remarks are a version of the US position that the status of Taiwan is undetermined and that the issue must be settled peacefully -- kudos either to her for understanding this or to whoever briefed her. And thanks to whoever decided to permit her to say something.
_______________________ 
Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums! Delenda est, baby.

18 comments:

M said...

Did the Chen administration use the "Republic of China" or "Taiwan" when dealing with APEC or other international organizations Taiwan has membership of?

Anonymous said...

The funny thing is that "Taiwan, China" IMO even sounds better than the horrible "Chinese Taipei", not considering its political implications of course.

Dixteel said...

Stupidity + Arrogance + Sellout = KMT.

It is also interesting to see organizations such as WHO can be so deceptive and play along with China so nicely. That is really unhealthy. Perhaps WHO needs to give itself a health check. Right now a public toilet is cleaner than the WHO headquarter.

Marc said...

Sibelius' words are diplomatic two-steps that express false opprobrium. Whenever the the US finally decides to take a stand and demand that Taiwan be allowed a place in the WHO and other organization, then I'll offer appropriate praise.

I'm feeling ready to join that group of people who will be happy to see the UN removed from US soil.

Michael Turton said...

Did the Chen administration use the "Republic of China" or "Taiwan" when dealing with APEC or other international organizations Taiwan has membership of?

It might be interesting to see if there are any letters like this from the Chen Administration.

Anonymous said...

KMT = Keep Marginalizing Taiwan

TE said...

Speaking of farces, the KMT and indeed those in China always agree on one thing--whenever they use Taiwan, always try to imply that Taiwan is not a country or state or nation inclusive of Penghu or Kinmen and Matsu--always try to imply that Taiwan means something like Taiwan island and that it's a part of a collection of bodies.

That's the purpose behind the name, economic region of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen, Matsu and other variations.

Obviously Taiwan at times means Taiwan the island. But in common usage, it also means the aggregate nation / country / land. It's as if China and the KMT think if they could only write all the dictionaries and all the newspapers, they would confuse everyone enough that Taiwan would magically be absorbed into China.

Anonymous said...

During the Chen administration the debate focused around using "Taiwan" and then resulted in a less acceptable alternative.

The Ma Administration started with the weaker alternative and had than pushed pack even more.

M said...

It might be interesting to see if there are any letters like this from the Chen Administration.

Can you find any?

The reality is that Taiwan cannot participate in international organizations under the name "Republic of China" or "Taiwan" regardless of whether the DPP or KMT is in power.
Taiwan participates in the WHO under the name "Chinese Taipei". When writing to the director general of the WHO it has to use that form.

Readin said...

Where did the English translation come from? Was it supplied by the Taiwan government or by the UN?

Stephen A. Nelson said...

Dear People of Taiwan,

I warned you about this, didn't I?

You didn't listen.

Now look what has happened.

Counting down the days till Ma announces the Taiwan SAR.

Michael Turton said...

M, I think you've totally missed the point.

Dixteel said...

Yea, M, I think the main point is not the name but the status "Province of China," which is what WHO leaked doc indicates. Taiwan uses a lot of different names in different international organizations. As long as Taiwan's indepedent status remains, different names are OK, although a lot less optimal. It would be way better in terms of efficiency and branding to just use the name "Taiwan" for everything, but alas, China is just so anal about it. But in any case, the main issue here is the status (which has been changed by WHO without Taiwanese consent), not the name itself.

M said...

In paragraph two there is an interesting moment -- the term ROC is never used and the sovereignty of that nation is never insisted upon -- indeed, the author never names what nation he represents -- in English the writer refers to "the Department of Health of Chinese Taipei" but in Chinese the mysterious, never to be named nation appears as "Our nation's Department of Health". Taiwan appears a couple of times in the stock phrase "23 million people of Taiwan," as well as "Taiwan and its adjacent waterways and islands" and of course in the complaint itself. His signature says he is an official of "Chinese Taipei."

Michael, I think the core of your argument is in this paragraph. The fact is that Taiwan cannot participate in the WHO as
the "ROC" or "Taiwan". Taiwan participates as "Chinese Taipei". Basically, Taiwan is not able to insist on ROC sovereignty in such a forum, otherwise it might find itself unable to participate at the future. Given the constant need to skirt around the sovereignty issue, I thought the letter made its point quite forcibly.
The DPP participated in APEC on the same basis.

Mark said...

You might be interested to know that in Beijing's upscale Qianmen area there's now huge "Taiwan street" with various Taiwanese foods and items. Everything's really expensive and there's a pretty strong marketing effort for tourism to Taiwan.

Karl said...

TE said: "It's as if China and the KMT think if they could only write all the dictionaries and all the newspapers, they would confuse everyone enough that Taiwan would magically be absorbed into China."

Unfortunately, I'm not sure their thinking is wrong in this respect. Control the guns, you command a people today. Control the language, and you command them forever.

Or something like that.

Jeromaru said...

As long as the Formosans construe their mother’s rapist as their lawful father, they will fall under the TRA nomenclature of “the people ON Taiwan”.

While assimilated to the parasites their island hosts, Formosans can forget about the sovereignty of Taiwan.

But not to worry, no new flag registration in the cards for the impounded Formosa Maru.

Anonymous said...

Taiwan's Health minister has officially demanded Taiwan being referred to as "Chinese Taipei" consistently. ??? Who authorized him to do that? Where is all the "defending ROC" campaign slogan? Accepting (reluctantly) the non-official title is one thing, demanding others to call us that humiliating name CONSISTENTLY is another. KMT might as well just propose changing the ROC constitution to a Chinese Taipei one. They have the super majority any way. There is really no end to how ridiculous they could get. The Chiang's should be tossing in their graves in great agony.

-- Gwenn