Opinion: United Nations should include Taiwan

Jaushieh Joseph Wu

In July, President Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan (aka the Republic of China) reiterated in a meeting with the permanent representatives to the U.N. of Taiwan’s allies that Taiwan’s 23 million people have the right to participate in the U.N. and emphasized Taiwan’s commitment to cooperate with global partners to achieve the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Considering Taiwan’s robust experience and contributions, it is absurd that Taiwan is barred from sharing experience and critical information that could be used to better coordinate international efforts.

Yet, because of China’s blockade, Taiwan is excluded from international organizations, such as the World Health Organization and the International Civil Aviation Organization, endangering not only the safety and security of Taiwan’s 23 million people, but also the whole world by preventing Taiwan’s contributions.

Taiwan Secretary General of the Council for National Security David Lee,  left, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-Wen, Haiti's President Jovenel Moise and first lady Martine, inaugurate an exhibition of Taiwanese products during Tsai Ing-Wen's visit in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on July 13.

Taiwan, a full-fledged democracy, has made considerable progress in fulfilling the U.N.'s SDGs and has provided assistance to countries in need. Nevertheless, it continues to be barred from participating in related meetings, mechanisms and activities due to political interference from China.

Taiwan is willing and ready to share its success story and contribute further to the collective effort to achieve the SDGs.

Taiwan has made great strides in alleviating poverty and achieving zero hunger. Our percentage of low-income households has been reduced to 1.6 percent. Launched in 1993, the National Health Insurance program now covers 99.8% of the population. In 2018, our waste recycling rate reached 55.69%, our literacy rate 98.8%, and our infant mortality rate 4.2 per 1,000. These figures far surpass SDG standards. Taiwan also has wisdom to offer regarding smart water management, sustainable energy transformation, clean air, sustainable materials management and even more areas that complement the main theme of the U.N. SDGs.

In recent years, Taiwan has aided and cooperated with partner countries in the Pacific, Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean. In 2018 alone, Taiwan conducted development projects aimed at SDGs in 39 countries. We will continue to track international trends and the needs of partner countries to ensure that all operations are aligned with the SDGs.

Taiwan (the Republic of China) is not, nor has it ever been, a part of the People’s Republic of China. Only Taiwan’s democratically elected government can represent its 23 million people. Unfortunately, the U.N. continues to misuse and misinterpret a resolution adopted in 1971 to justify its wrongful exclusion and isolation of Taiwan.

International organizations are created to meet the common objectives of its members, not to serve the interests of just one. Article 100 of the U.N. Charter clearly states that “In the performance of their duties the Secretary-General and the staff shall not seek or receive instructions from any government or from any other authority external to the Organization.” Regrettably, the U.N. sits idly by whenever China seeks to impose its so-called “one China principle” on the U.N. system. The most recent example involves dozens of NGOs being denied Consultative Status by the U.N. Economic and Social Council simply because a reference to Taiwan in their documents contradicts China’s demands.

A truly inclusive U.N. would not leave anyone behind. Today, however, Taiwan passport holders are blocked from entering U.N. premises for public visits and meetings. Taiwanese journalists and media outlets are also denied accreditation to cover U.N. meetings. These practices are unjust and discriminatory, and contravene the principle of universality upon which the U.N. was founded. The U.N. should make its actions and words congruent, and take immediate action to rectify its exclusionary practices.

Taiwan is ready, willing and able to contribute. If the U.N. continues to yield to China’s coercion, rejecting Taiwan’s participation, it will only encourage Beijing’s callousness. International efforts to solve economic, social, cultural or humanitarian problems will be impaired. If the host of nations is serious about promoting inclusion and making development sustainable for all, it should open its doors to Taiwan.

Dr. Jaushieh Joseph Wu is Taiwan’s minister of foreign affairs.