Alex Lo
SCMP Columnist
My Take
by Alex Lo
My Take
by Alex Lo

Pro-Taiwan groups’ UN demand should be directed at US

  • Taiwan doesn’t qualify for United Nations membership because it is not recognised as a sovereign state by the vast majority of nations, nor has the island itself declared independent statehood. As the theatre of the absurd goes, why not ask the US to set up an official Taiwan embassy?

Some political theatrics are so absurd and extreme they really have to be seen to be believed. The latest demand by a group of self-styled global groups representing Taiwanese communities overseas for full United Nations membership for the island is a case in point.

Most of the groups are based in the United States. Among these is the Formosan Association for Public Affairs, a key propaganda outfit for Taiwan with known ties to Washington politicians from both major parties. The petty exercise has the fingerprints of the government of President Tsai Ing-wen all over it.

In a letter addressed to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, the groups said Taiwan’s exclusion from the UN was “absurd and baseless”.

“Meeting all the criteria of statehood under international law, Taiwan has long been an independent and sovereign country,” it said. “It is a proactive major contributor to the international community — a beacon of democracy for countries around the world to emulate.”

Since when has it been “independent and sovereign”? Last night? Perhaps I missed the nightly news broadcast that Tsai had formally declared independence. However, pro-Tsai news media in Taiwan have been going gaga over the letter.

Dated September 9, it continued: “[The] continued exclusion of Taiwan from the UN system is not only unwise, unjust and unfair, but also is a blatant violation of the principles of universality and self-determination as enshrined in the UN Charter, and must be rectified immediately.”

“Unwise, unjust and unfair” – love the alliteration! But please, let’s not get carried away by your own exalted rhetoric. By the same logic of those Taiwan groups, Palestine should be qualified for full statehood and membership in the UN, as well as Catalonia, which had a referendum with 90 per cent saying yes to secession from Spain five years ago. The Palestinian National Authority has long held free elections and is undoubtedly the most democratic Arabic national body in the Middle East.

Of 190-plus countries in the world today, only a dozen diplomatically recognise the Republic of China (Taiwan), plus the Vatican if you count it as a sovereign state. You have to wonder why that is so if the island is so “sovereign and independent”!

Instead of making absurd propaganda demands and trying to harass and embarrass poor old Guterres, who really has better things to attend to, those groups should instead put pressure on Taiwan’s pals such as the US and Lithuania.

They should demand such countries to upgrade their representative offices to the status of full embassy. After all, Tsai now practically thinks – or deludes herself into thinking – that Taiwan is the Israel of the East, with unconditional support from Washington. If the Israelis could pressure the US to relocate its embassy from Tel Aviv to the highly contested Jerusalem, surely Tsai should at least get the Americans to set up an embassy somewhere on the island.

As “a beacon of democracy for countries around the world to emulate”, it’s the least the US can do. Oh wait, Taiwan is claiming to be that beacon now!