Monday, September 17, 2007

Bob Dole in Wall Street Journal: Let Taiwan Join the UN

The Wall Street Journal has former Sen. Bob Dole with another article supporting Taiwan -- this time into the UN. Note that, as Dole says in the article, the government of Taiwan employs the law firm where he is a special counsel. Nevertheless, it's a good article, and yet another example of the positive publicity that's getting out there in the island's favor.

Let Taiwan Join the U.N.
September 17, 2007; Page A16

Tomorrow the United Nations will consider Taiwan's application for membership. It has formally sought admission every year since 1993, but this year's application is different.

First, the country is applying under its own name ("Taiwan") rather than its official appellation ("Republic of China"). Second, it is applying to the U.N. General Assembly, the organization's comprehensive body of member nations -- despite the rejection of its application this summer by U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and his legal office. Third, the application may be followed by a national referendum on whether Taiwan should apply for U.N. membership under its own name -- a plan that has elicited a sharp rebuke by the Bush administration.

The U.N.'s lawyers argued that, having transferred China's seat from Taipei to Beijing in 1971, the U.N. should reject Taiwan's latest application because Taiwan "for all intents and purposes" is "an integral part of the People's Republic of China." Taiwan presents a more compelling legal case: It meets all of the requirements of statehood under law.

It is already a full and productive member of international organizations such as the World Trade Organization and Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum. It has never been a province or part of the local government of the People's Republic of China. Taiwan's recent transformation into a modern democratic state supersedes any decades-old determination that gives the PRC a United Nations seat -- even as the U.N. failed to determine that Taiwan is part of the PRC or bestow upon it the right to represent Taiwan.

Taiwan's political case for U.N. membership is equally strong. It is the 48th most populous country in the world. Its economy is the world's 16th largest. Its gross national product totals $366 billion, or $16,098 per capita. With $267 billion in foreign exchange reserves, it is one of the world's three largest creditor states. Taiwan is therefore poised to be a significant contributor to the U.N.'s operations and play a constructive role in the organization.

Unfortunately, the United States and the other major powers discourage Taiwan in its quest for de jure international recognition of its de facto sovereignty. This is because they do not want to raise the ire of the PRC, which, as a member of the U.N. Security Council, can block any significant U.N. action, and, as a global power, can interfere on a host of issues important to the U.S. and Europe.

Thanks to exponentially increased trade with the U.S. and Europe, Beijing feels less compelled than ever to seek political accommodation with Taiwan, or to decrease its military threat against the island nation. Expanding economic relationships may be good in and of itself, but predictions that this would produce political cracks in China's authoritarian regime have proved wrong.

Today, Beijing is using its newfound economic might to isolate Taiwan still further in international organizations and attempt to persuade the two dozen countries that recognize Taiwan diplomatically to switch their ties to China. Meanwhile, the people of the PRC enjoy fewer political rights and civil liberties than in all but a few of the world's countries.

A few short years ago, the U.S. seemed determined to change this. During his 2000 election campaign and the first months of his administration, President Bush and his team vowed to fashion a new foreign policy in which U.S. national interests, particularly in Asia, were advanced less exclusively through the prism of Beijing. In other words, the U.S. wanted to be less beholden to the communist regime.

One of the casualties of 9/11, and the subsequent war in Iraq, was that this policy agenda became less of a priority. Our cooperation with Pakistan in the effort to topple the Taliban, find Osama bin Laden and eradicate terrorism in the region meant that we focused less on developing a higher-tier relationship with India. We also concentrated less on drawing out Japan, by encouraging it to play a more active political and military role on the global stage. Equally important, we were unable to increase our promotion of democracy in the region by fostering closer ties with countries such as Taiwan and South Korea and escalating pressure on Beijing to reform.

The current U.S. administration still has time to correct this omission. Having been an advocate for Taiwan during my time in the Senate, and today as part of a law firm that represents Taiwan's interests in the U.S., I believe that President Bush should support Taiwan's application for U.N. membership. This should be quickly followed by active or tacit support for Taiwan's plans for a popular vote on this issue in March 2008. Our close Asian friend and ally needs and deserves this recognition and support, which would at the same time advance America's regional and global interest in promoting democratization.

Mr. Dole, a former Senate majority leader and the Republican candidate for
president in 1996, is special counsel to Alston & Bird.



Anonymous said...

I also found this article... but it seems familiar to may already be on your site somewhere

Anonymous said...

I still don't understand the concept (which everyone seems to be accepting as a "given") that Taiwan is a "state." The government here in Taiwan, with which diplomatic relations are made, is clearly called the Republic of China, and there is no law which says that "Taiwan" is officially accepted as an alternative name for the ROC. By the same token, the people in Taiwan carry ID cards of the Republic of China, not of the Republic of Taiwan. So, it seems to me that Taiwan is merely a geographic term, and not the name of a country. Have I missed something somewhere?

Anonymous said...

Whoever Dole's employer is, this is exactly the type of support Taiwan needs. People like Bob Dole are respected in many corners of Washington. Furthermore, I would imagine a letter of support from Bob Dole, in the right hands, will go a lot further than a letter of condemnation from fools in the Bush administration (which garners very little respect these days on any issue. Let's face it, is anyone doing more at the moment than counting the minutes until 2008/09?) Way to go Dole!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous that said "I still don't understand the concept":

You're totally confused. When people say Taiwan, the mean: 1) the country 2) the government 3) the people 4) all of the territories of the ROC 5) the island of Taiwan (not including Penghu, Matsu, Kinmen).

This is a very common linguistic phenomenon. Likewise, when people say U.S., they often mean: 1) the country 2) the government 3) the people... etc.

What you really mean to say is that you don't believe Taiwan is a legitimate country and you only recognize (if you are Taiwanese... perhaps identify with) a regime that views its historical roots in the early Nationalist Republican government of China. Well good for you. That's not how most people talk about Taiwan in Taiwanese or Mandarin in Taiwan. Sure, they know what the official title is, they know there's this international recognition problem, but they mean what they mean--Taiwan, as in Taiwan the country. You can claim they are wrong; most people in Taiwan will disagree with you though.

channing said...

The same 90% of Taiwan's population will agree that using "Taiwan" to refer to all the territories held by ROC is a phenomenon of pure convenience, because most of the ROC population lives in Taiwan, and Taiwan overwhelmingly dominates ROC affairs.

Almost all Taiwanese recognize that their country and flag has only one official name: ROC.

Colonial or not, morally correct or not, Taiwan is a province of the ROC.

Anonymous said...

Do Americans really care about democracy? If so, why the Bush administration did not consult the American general public before invading Iraq? Apparently, Americans have attached great importance to human rights. Then why they have secret CIA prisons all over Europe in visible breach of basic human rights code?Just because they are now the superposwer, they are allowed to establish military bases across the globe?

It's time to say no to hegemony, to hold their ever-expanding power in checks and balances.

For god's sake, please take care of your own business and then the world will be 1000 times more peaceful. Mind you that China will never compromise on the Taiwan issue, even at the expense of ...

Anonymous said...

Channing, what you deride as "convenience" is as I pointed out, a widespread and pervasive linguistic phenomenon that is rarely ever thought of as inaccurate, incorrect, or wrong:

That's a nice set of wheels (car).
Give the redhead her check (head as representative of person, person with red hair).

Ireland's official name is the Republic of Ireland. But it's never considered wrong to use Ireland (that's the level of acceptance of their unofficial name).

I wouldn't say that Taiwan as a synonym for the ROC/government/territory/people is at the same level of acceptance as Ireland. But it is certainly much much more common than saying ROC with little perceptible distinction in meaning. I can't even think of when people say Taiwan and they mean "province of Taiwan" or "just the island of Taiwan, no Penghu, Kinmen, or Matsu", even by the 7-8% of the population that is mostly waisheng (mainlander) and identifies ROC as "the legitimate" China.

mungo said...

Dear Anonyomous

You might reveal yourself rather than hiding behind anonymity - a cowardly approach. But to claim Bush should have asked Americans about invading Iraq misses the point - governments are elected for a full term to make decisions on behalf of the people. Perhaps you favour tv voting on every law that has to be passed or policy that needs to be made?

Anonymous said...

I also found this article

Taiwan, the international idealists' dirty secret by Ramesh Thakur