MANILA, Philippines — Taiwan is apparently still baffled why the United Nations (UN) insists on not including it as a member-state, asking whether its political structure and COVID-19 response, which differ from those of China, were not enough to qualify it as a separate entity.
The head of the Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Joseph Wu, issued a statement about this, which was sent to the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Manila on Wednesday.
According to the statement, Taiwan agrees with the UN’s view that a concerted effort among countries — multilateralism — would help the whole world recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and continue programs in place even after the crisis.
However, Wu says it was perplexing why Taiwan remained excluded from the UN despite its having one of the world’s best democracies, economies, health care system, and success stories — even with COVID-19 infecting over 20 million individuals worldwide.
“We cannot agree more,” Wu said in reference to the remarks that UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres made at the UN Economic and Social Council.
“However, this vision seems lacking when Taiwan — one of the world’s model democracies and a success story in containing the current pandemic—continues to be barred from taking part in and exchanging experiences and information with the UN system,” Wu added.
“Even as the pandemic has made the international community acutely aware of Taiwan’s unjust and discriminatory exclusion from the World Health Organization and the UN system, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) continues to press the UN to use an erroneous interpretation of the 1971 UN General Assembly Resolution 2758 (XXVI) as the legal basis for blocking Taiwan,” he added.
Wu noted that the response of the People’s Republic of China and Taiwan to the pandemic also differed, with borders being closed during the pandemic — which meant that there was no single government manning both areas.
According to him, Taiwan only closed schools for two weeks, did not enforce lockdowns, and allowed outdoor activities to resume in April while recording only around 500 cases and seven deaths.
As of now, China, where the latest coronavirus strain originated, has over 80,000 cases.
“In fact, Taiwan is not, nor has it ever been, a part of the PRC. Our president and legislature are directly elected by the people of Taiwan. Moreover, border controls instituted during the pandemic offer further evidence to counter the PRC’s false claims,” he said.
“With less than 500 confirmed cases and seven deaths, Taiwan has defied predictions and successfully contained COVID-19. We managed this without lockdowns; schools were only closed for two weeks in February. Baseball games also restarted in April,” he added.
For starters, there are currently two Chinas in the world right now: mainland China, known as PRC, with Beijing as its capital. It is governed by the Chinese Communist Party founded by Mao Zedong, with Xi Jingping as its current president.
Then there’s the Republic of China, or Taiwan, with its capital Taipei. Taiwan claims that it has sovereignty over its own land, tracing its roots to the same government ran by nationalist Chiang Kai-shek who relocated to the said area during the civil war between his Kuomintang and the communists.
But years after the civil war, PRC still claims that Taiwan — already a technological and cultural hub and a popular tourist attaction — belongs to the mainland. 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, like the UN and the World Health Organization (WHO).
Last April, Taiwan urged the WHO to include it among its ranks so that it can easily share best practices in fighting the pandemic.
As of now, Taiwan is still not officially part of WHO, which still recognizes the country as part of PRC and not as a sovereign country.
Wu invoked his country’s slogan — “Taiwan Can Help” — and said it could do so even more if it would be included in the UN.
“Not having Taiwan’s input in the UN is a loss to the global community, and will hamper Member States’ efforts to regain normalcy and implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in full and on time,” Wu said.
“By drawing on its outstanding work on the SDGs, Taiwan can help countries better recover from the disruption caused by the pandemic […] Unfortunately, the 23.5 million people of Taiwan are denied any access to UN premises. Taiwanese journalists and media outlets are also denied accreditation to cover UN meetings,” he added.
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