Time for the UN To Permit the Republic of China To Play a Meaningful Role in the World Body
It could start with allowing Taiwanese journalists to attend and cover relevant meetings.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a reminder of how autocracies care little about causing death and destruction. The war is a gross violation of human rights and the principle of peaceful settlement of international disputes codified in the United Nations Charter, the basis for the rules-based international order that’s kept the world in relative peace since the end of the Cold War.
The war’s humanitarian and economic fallout has also shown that in a globalized world, crises cannot be contained within national borders. It is therefore imperative to deter similar threats to global security from happening elsewhere. Taiwan — a democracy that is home to over 23 million people and that I proudly represent — continues to confront enormous challenges posed by Communist China.
The People’s Republic of China has for decades vowed to take control of Taiwan and refused to renounce the use of force, despite never having ruled the island. Taiwan’s people have remained calm in safeguarding the status quo of peace across the Taiwan Strait. However, as China’s economic and military might has grown, it becomes increasingly aggressive in flexing its military muscle to intimidate Taiwan, threatening our democratic way of life.
Beijing’s provocations include sending warplanes and ships across the median line of the Taiwan Strait and encroaching into our air defense identification zones. It has also intensified so-called “gray-zone” tactics like disinformation and economic coercion, trying to wear down our will to fight.
Beijing’s expansionism does not stop at Taiwan. China’s gray-zone activities in the East and South China Seas are designed to expand its power and substantiate its hawkish territorial claims. In addition to signing a security agreement with the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific, Beijing has been securing ports for military use in the Indian Ocean. Concerns are growing that peace will become more difficult to maintain.
Ensuring peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait is in everyone’s best interest. Half of the world’s commercial container traffic passes through the Taiwan Strait each day. Taiwan produces the majority of the world’s semiconductors and plays a key role in global supply chains. Any conflict in the area would be disastrous for the global economy.
While we can all agree that the war must be avoided, how to best do so requires inclusion, dialogue, and, most of all, unity. The United Nations remains the best platform for global discourse. UN officials speak often of joint solutions, solidarity, and inclusion in tackling the pressing issues of our time. Taiwan is more than willing and able to take part.
However, Taiwan continues to be excluded from the UN due to Beijing’s distortion of UN General Assembly Resolution 2758. This resolution neither states that Taiwan is a part of Communist China nor gives the Beijing regime the right to represent the people of Taiwan in the UN and its specialized agencies. The resolution only determines who represents the member-state China, a fact that the international community and Beijing itself recognized following the relevant vote in 1971. The misrepresentation of Resolution 2758 contradicts the UN Charter and must be rectified.
The 78th session of the UN General Assembly, which will center on the theme “rebuilding trust and reigniting global solidarity,” is timely in light of a number of broad global challenges. Take the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity. Yet just 12 percent of these goals were on track, a recent report says, while progress on the rest is either insufficient, stalled, or even regressing.
While there are no easy answers, the first step is dialogue. As a global institution, the UN can serve as a champion of progress. We call on the global body to uphold its principle of leaving no one behind by allowing Taiwan to participate in the UN system. A good first step would be to allow Taiwanese individuals and journalists to attend or cover relevant meetings, as well as to ensure Taiwan’s involvement with the UN’s development goals.
Ukraine’s bravery and resilience have inspired countries around the globe, forging a new sense of togetherness in the world. Unity is crucial to pushing back against Russia’s aggression and to preserving shared values like human rights and global peace. That will make China and other authoritarian governments aware that they will be held accountable and to urge them to settle differences through peaceful means.
Allowing Taiwan to meaningfully participate in the UN system would mark a commitment to unite for global peace at a critical moment. What better time to act on this fundamental principle by including Taiwan?