Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Ban Ki-moon over Taiwan

Articles about Taiwan all over the place, debates in public between the State Department, Congress, and Pentagon, Ban Ki-moon getting spanked by Congress critters and right-wingers over Taiwan....yeah, that UN referendum and UN entry is a really stupid idea. Doomed to failure, eh?

Taiwan's good friend UN Sec-Gen Ban Ki-moon decided to drive his point home on Monday, saying that Taiwan's entry into the UN would be illegal:
Taiwan's approaches were rejected in July by Ban's office and by the Security Council, and on September 7 by the office of the outgoing General Assembly president, Haya Rashed al-Khalifa of Bahrain.

All have cited a General Assembly resolution of 1971 that expelled the "representatives of Chiang Kai-shek" -- the nationalist leader driven out of mainland China in 1949 by the communists -- and awarded their seat to the People's Republic.

"This has been the official position of the United Nations and has not changed since 1971," Ban said on Tuesday.

"This matter ... was very carefully considered by the secretariat, and in light of Resolution 2758 it was not legally possible to receive the purported application for membership."
Although some might argue that the problem is that the "Republic of China" claims to be the sole representative of China, the UN had no trouble seating both East and West Germany, each of which claimed to be the legit government of Germany. The real problem is China threats. Taiwan should not complain too much: the island would probably lose a vote in the General Assembly. And that would be a terrible propaganda blow. Taiwan needs to finesse this so it never comes to a vote.

Meanwhile some pro-Taiwan congress critters were out in force on Taiwan's behalf once more, with a commentary in the right-wing Washington Times. Steve Chabot (R-OH), Shelley Berkley (D-NV), and Dana Rohrabacker (R-CA), implored us to not abandon Taiwan:

In late July, a quiet diplomatic error was made that could severely undermine U.S. foreign policy and security interests in a potentially volatile region of the world. This did not involve the ongoing conflict in Iraq or sanctions against North Korea, but rather the question of whether Taiwan deserves a seat at the United Nations. While not a new question by any means, it was recently raised anew when, on behalf of its 23 million inhabitants, Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian formally applied for UN membership under the name "Taiwan." And the implications for U.S. interests came in the answer.

On July 23, U.N, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon rejected Taiwan's application. In doing so, he asserted that the 1971 U.N. General Assembly Resolution 2758 had granted China's seat in the General Assembly to the government of the People's Republic of China (PRC), and he also stated that in the view of the United Nations, Taiwan is considered an integral part of the PRC.

The secretary-general offers no basis for denying Taiwan the right to be considered for membership. According to the Rules of Procedure of General Assembly, when an application for U.N. membership is received, the secretary-general shall send it to the General Assembly for its member states to consider. And while Resolution 2758 recognized the PRC as the sole representative of China, it was silent as to the status of Taiwan.

Bi-partisan support! And in this polarized day and age, too. The BBC reports on the island's new attempt to enter the UN on Wednesday -- today. Bound to be another "failure" (one of my Google reader links says "see all 90 articles" -- and that's on Sec-Gen Ban's ukase on the illegality of Taiwan's entry. Any more failures like that and Taiwan will be a household word).

Anyone noticed the massive silence emanating from the State Department? Not a frickin' word since the storm last week. Good work, guys, your silence is golden and your mooncakes are in the mail. At the same time, China has urged the US not to sell the island weapons, while relations between China and Taiwan are so tense that trade is up 13% year on year, through August -- with two-way trade to reach $110 billion this year.

Yup, this UN referendum thing has played havoc with Taiwan-China relations.


Anonymous said...

I was shocked to found that you said "Bad is a good friend to Taiwan ...", how can you be so stupid ?

Anyway, my bad.

Anonymous said...

United States leaves door open on Taiwan issue
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
By Frank Ching, Special to The China Post

In his commentary on the US's Taiwan policy, Frank Ching infers from the U.S. National Security Council's senior director for Asian affairs, Dennis Wilder’s August 30 statement that there may be people in Washington who are seeking an alternative to that long, long-held and skewed view that Taiwan is an issue best left for the Chinese to deal with.

Now, what is the China Post up to? Serialize Georges Kerr’s “Formosa Betrayed”?

Tommy said...

What Ban has done is truly interesting. I still have no respect for him since, in my opinion, any secretary general who misquotes UN resolutions as he sees fit is unworthy for the job. However, his comments, especially this time, may have had some unintended consequences that are not really bad for greens on the island.

What has he done?
1) Made China happy again. This is not good or bad for anyone since nobody expected anything else at the moment.

2) Potentially annoyed the state department again. Regardless of their current leaning towards China, they must not be happy with his continued misreadings of the UN resolution in question. He is forcing them to take policy stands no less than any Taiwanese politician at the moment.

More importantly:
3) He has declared that Taiwan's application to join the UN is illegal, but he has done it by citing a resolution that transfers recognition from the ROC to the PRC. A green can simply play the victim card here since it is clear that the UN resolution does not even mention Taiwan, and also because Ban is simply wrong that a new application under a different name is illegal. Such new applications happen frequently. There will probably be a new one soon from Croatia. Taiwan has every right to apply as long as it is not claiming it is the government of China.

The greens can continue with their referendum push and there is nothing the blues can do to criticize them. This is because Ban has based his argument on the resolution that states that sovereignty of China resides with the government of the PRC. This means that Ma's decision to push an application under the name of the Republic of China is the most problematic one of all. Even though the resolution does not state that the ROC cannot apply for a NEW seat, it is the basis for Ban's argument that the island's application is illegal.

Of course, Ma will have no choice but to push ahead with his own referendum. He cannot back down without losing face. And he cannot criticize the greens without opening himself to criticism over the name he has chosen to use to represent the country.

The end result will be a net positive for Taiwan. The greens can play up their victimization and benefit from the public disappointment with Ban's comments. The blues can only play along. In the end, there will still be resolutions calling for UN entry, and at least one of them might actually pass (fingers crossed).

I hope that someone in the Hsieh administration has the sense to play this as it should be played.

Tommy said...

One more thing: Ban has also legitimized the use of the name "Taiwan" in applying for UN membership. While he declared the application for membership to be illegal, basing his decision on Resolution 2758, which indicates no such thing, he still has "allowed" discussion of the application under the name of Taiwan, thanks to the efforts of the island's allies (not that he himself has any choice in the matter, although he has used his position make decrees that were not in his power in the past). This is nothing less than a victory for the greens.

Tommy said...

CORRECTION: I meant "Kosovo" and not "Croatia."

Michael Turton said...

Kosovo, of course, being a tiny independent nation made independent by the US over the objections of a powerful neighbor (Russia). Ring any bells, there?

Mark said...

At the same time, China has urged the US not to sell the island weapons, while relations between China and Taiwan are so tense that trade is up 13% year on year, through August -- with two-way trade to reach $110 billion this year.

My thoughts exactly... so tense that over a million Taiwanese choose to live, study or work in the PRC. Undoubtedly, even more mainlanders would love to do the same here.