The beautiful state of Hawaii has often been regarded as a mini-United Nations because it is home to so many people of different experiences and backgrounds. Would it be thinkable, therefore, that the Aloha State would ostracize a certain group that contributes greatly to the State’s economy, health, security, and development? Of course not, yet this is precisely what the United Nations is doing to Taiwan.
Situated at the Asia-Pacific crossroads with limited land and natural resources, Taiwan has been recognized for its successful economic development, democratization and globalization. Through the hard work of its 23 million proud and diligent people, Taiwan is now an outstanding example of economy and democracy: it has the 16th largest economy and is the 14th largest trading nation in the world. Brown University ranks Taiwan’s e-government as the best in the world and the World Economic Forum ranks Taiwan 3rd in global competitiveness. In terms of democracy, Condoleeza Rice, the U.S. National Security Advisor, praised Taiwan during a lecture at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research in New York last October as one of many countries that “show that freedom manifests itself differently around the globe and that liberties can find an honored place amidst ancient traditions.”
The fact that Taiwan is being excluded from the U.N. and other international organizations is not only contrary to the universality principle of the U.N., but also creates a critical gap in the global network that is crucial in the fight against terrorism and disease. A perfect example occurred just a few months ago when all countries worked closely with the WHO, a specialized agency of the U.N., to fight the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). SARS affected everyone in the world and killed hundreds of people, but Taiwan had to fight its battle against SARS all alone. The reason is simple — the WHO will not accept Taiwan as a member due to Beijing’s persistent political blockade.
Facing these difficult challenges, however, Taiwan still shows its eagerness and willingness to participate in the international community. For example, after years of hard work, Taiwan is now a member of World Trade Organization and is ready to further connect itself to the global trading system. Also, following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Taiwan provided US $20 million in financial and humanitarian assistance to the victims and their families. Taiwan has also pledged its support to the United States in its fight to combat international terrorism by announcing Taiwan’s cooperation, under Resolution 1373 of the U.N. Security Council, to combat terrorism. Taiwan also has joined the global fight against AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria by donating $1 million to the United Nations Foundation last December. Recently, upon learning that American Samoa was struck by torrential rains in June, the government on Taiwan immediately provided financial assistance to support American Samoa’s relief efforts. These are only a few examples of Taiwan’s unrelenting efforts to carry out its full duties as a member of this global village. That is also why U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell acknowledges Taiwan as a “success story,” noting that Taiwan has a resilient economy, a vibrant democracy and is a generous contributor to the international community.
It is high time for all members of this global village to realize that Taiwan continues to be treated unfairly in the international political arena, a fact made especially evident by its isolation from the U.N. and other international organizations. In a world of accelerating interdependence, no country should be left out. Taiwan needs the U.N., and the U.N. needs Taiwan.
”’Timothy Lin is Special Assistant to Consul General Raymond L.S. Wang of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Honolulu.”’