Taiwan stepping up calls for U.N. participation

Courtesy of Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry
A digital billboard in New York’s Times Square features a campaign calling for Taiwan’s participation at the United Nations.

TAIPEI / BEIJING — With the annual gathering of leaders at the U.N. General Assembly underway in New York, Taiwan is stepping up efforts to boost support for greater participation by Taipei in the activities of U.N. bodies. China remains wary of such moves and is trying to prevent support for Taiwan’s position from growing.

On Sept. 13, images of traditional Taiwanese lanterns floating in the air were displayed on digital billboards in Times Square in New York, accompanied by the message, “Give Taiwan a voice,” and on Sept. 17, a rally calling for Taiwan’s inclusion in the United Nations was held in the city.

In past years, Taipei has arranged activities such as symposiums and music concerts in New York to coincide with the General Assembly meeting. Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry is planning to hold even more activities this year, spurred by concerns over Chinese military exercises that were conducted near the island.

Taiwan is unable to participate in the United Nations because of the so-called Albanian Resolution adopted by the assembly in 1971. This resolution shifted the right of representation at the United Nations from the Republic of China (Taiwan) to the People’s Republic of China.

Taiwan has requested to be allowed to participate as an “observer” in the World Health Assembly, the decision-making body of the World Health Organization. This position is easier for more nations to support.

Taiwan insists that the 1971 resolution stipulates only the right of representation without mentioning Taiwan’s position in the United Nations, so participation should be possible. Taiwan Foreign Minister Jaushieh Joseph Wu said cooperation from around the world is necessary for resolving international issues, and he stressed that Taiwan is ready to help.

A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said Taiwan’s calls for participation should be considered in accordance with the “one-China principle.” In particular, China appears staunchly opposed to any participation while Taiwan is ruled by the Democratic Progressive Party, which does not recognize the one-China principle. China wields significant influence over many developing and emerging nations, so Taiwan is struggling to raise support for its position outside of the United States and Europe.

In late August, Liu Jianchao, head of the Chinese Communist Party’s International Liaison Department, said Western politicians are kicking up “a fuss” about Taiwan’s participation in the U.N. system.