WASHINGTON — The United States should stage a diplomatic campaign among partner countries to push back against China’s increasingly vigorous efforts to keep Taiwan out of United Nations agencies and other international organizations, according to a new report.
The United States’ German Marshall Fund report recommends that U.S. officials go on the offensive against China’s ubiquitous presence in the highest ranks of the United Nations and its “growing coercive and corrupting influence, as well as its efforts to advance its agenda around the world.” to promote and legitimize the UN system.”
Among other things, the United States should make “a sustained effort to lobby against the appointments and elections” of Chinese officials in high positions in UN agencies, the authors wrote. DailyExpertNews saw a final version of the report ahead of its scheduled release on Thursday.
The assessment comes out of concerns that the Chinese Communist Party could take action against Taiwan and its 23 million people have grown in Washington and Taipei due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine by President Vladimir V. Putin.
On February 4, two weeks before the invasion, Mr Putin met with President Xi Jinping of China in Beijing, and the two announced a “no borders” partnership. They released a 5000-word statement on broad geopolitical issues, in which Russia reaffirmed its support for Beijing’s “One China” principle, which states that the self-governing, democratic island of Taiwan is part of China.
US and Taiwanese officials have tried to gauge whether Putin’s war in Ukraine will have any effect on the Chinese Communist Party’s long-running goal of bringing Taiwan under its rule. Mr Xi could see Mr Putin’s invasion of Ukraine as a parallel to military actions he might take to take Taiwan. At the same time, the harsh economic sanctions imposed on Russia by the United States and its European and Asian allies and the Ukrainians’ fierce resistance to the Russian military may serve as a deterrent.
President Biden and Mr Xi discussed Taiwan in a video call last Friday. Taiwan is the most sensitive and persistent issue between the United States and China. The United States supplies defensive equipment to Taiwan and maintains “strategic ambiguity,” meaning it leaves open whether it would send military forces to defend Taiwan if China attempts to invade. And while the United States does not recognize Taiwan as an independent nation, it also does not express a position on its sovereign status over China.
China insists that Taiwan is part of its territory and cannot exist as a sovereign nation. Taiwan’s independence is recognized by 14 sovereign states — including 13 United Nations member states — a number that has declined over the years as China pressured countries to withdraw recognition and normalize diplomatic ties with Beijing. . Last December, Nicaragua switched recognition from Taiwan to China, following similar steps from 2017 to 2019 by Panama, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador and the Solomon Islands.
Last August, Lithuania allowed Taiwan to open a representative office in the capital Vilnius, prompting China to recall its ambassador and sever trade ties.
The report from the German Marshall Fund, a democracy-promoting research group, outlined similar examples of coercive diplomacy by China in the constellation of UN agencies and related groups. (The authors, Jessica Drun and Bonnie Glaser, both Taiwanese experts, said they had received funding from Taiwanese government organizations for the study, but the views expressed in the report were their own. Separately, said Laura Rosenberger, senior director for China and Taiwan at the White House National Security Council, was a senior fellow at the German Marshall Fund.)
In some cases, Chinese diplomats have prevented Taiwan from joining the groups. In other cases, Chinese officials urged UN personnel to ensure that Taiwan was labeled a “province of China” in documents. The US has a policy of promoting Taiwan’s participation in international organizations and venues.
A United Nations spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.
China’s efforts in the context of the United Nations are part of a campaign to change that body’s understanding of Resolution 2758, passed in 1971. According to the resolution, the People’s Republic of China would be China’s only legitimate representative to the United Nations, meaning it takes the seat of the government of Taiwan. The resolution says nothing about Taiwan’s sovereign status, but China has been trying for years to change people’s understanding of language so that they think the text says Taiwan is part of China, Ms Drun and Ms Glaser wrote.
China has “used UN Resolution 2758 and bilateral standardization agreements with other member states to falsely claim that its ‘One China’ principle is a universally accepted standard,” they wrote, adding that China is getting support for its positions, in part “by economic pressure on governments.”
These efforts make it easier for China to argue that Taiwan should be excluded from international organizations.
“They have many reasons for reinforcing the ‘One China’ principle, as they put it, in the minds of United Nations leaders,” said Thomas Christensen, interim dean at Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs. University and a former State Department official.
China is also putting pressure on private companies and non-governmental groups. Marriott, Delta Air Lines, Qantas, Zara and Medtronic have all changed their website language in recent years after Chinese officials criticized the companies for designating Taiwan as a separate country. Last year, Chinese United Nations officials forced a high school in Colorado to change the language on its website before the school’s students were allowed to visit a UN agency. The school had to add “province of China” to text about Taiwan.
The German Marshall Fund report highlights an agreement between China and the World Health Organization as a blatant example of an attempt to keep Taiwan out of an international group. The ban on Taiwan was especially damaging in the early months of the pandemic, when Taiwan had collected information about Covid-19 but was unable to share it with WHO, the authors wrote. In May 2020, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and other US officials attempted to lead a coalition of countries to grant Taiwan observer status at a meeting convened by the WHO, but failed.
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China also scrapped a similar effort last year.
“Beijing is setting the table for a war to annex Taiwan, and its insistence on these linguistic changes is aimed at releasing Beijing from its obligations under the UN Charter and avoiding international sanctions and convictions,” said Matt Pottinger, a deputy national security service. adviser to the Trump administration and chairman of the China program at Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. “It won’t work because the world won’t accept Beijing slaughtering its peaceful neighbors, regardless of whether Taiwan is seen as a sovereign country or part of ‘one China’.”
Liu Pengyu, a spokesman for the Chinese embassy, said the “Taiwan region”‘s participation in activities of international organizations, including the WHO, “should be handled in accordance with the ‘One China’ principle.”
China’s efforts have fueled a growing sense of resentment towards the mainland among Taiwanese. More than ever, many of the islanders identify solely as Taiwanese and not Chinese.
The issue of Taiwan’s representation on the international stage has been a source of rare bipartisan consensus between the island’s two main political parties: the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, which seeks to strengthen Taiwan’s identity, and the opposition Kuomintang party.
Taiwan has consistently pushed for United Nations membership. But China, which is a permanent member of the Security Council, has ruled out any possibility to do so.
“Cutting Taiwan’s visibility in the world is very high on China’s agenda,” said Su Chi, a former Kuomintang official who chaired Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council.
“Even the KMT hates that,” he added. “We have the pursuit of dignity.”
But China’s influence in the United Nations and related organizations is growing.
“Because of China’s powerful interests in the UN, it is very difficult for these agencies to admit Taiwan into these organizations,” said Eugene Kuan, an associate professor of international politics at National Taiwan Normal University. “They don’t want to cause any disputes or conflicts with China, so it’s better for them not to solve this problem.”