UN membership for Taiwan

UN membership for Taiwan graphicMichael Turton has a post on his blog about the UN for Taiwan blogger flap. It has attracted many comments. The story began when blogger Wandering in Wulai argued that UN for Taiwan was bad English. He also complained about the post office using UN for Taiwan postmarks. It got quite a lot of coverage in the Taiwanese media. 

The graphic above shows UN for Taiwan is a contraction of UN Membership for Taiwan. The graphic was taken from the Taiwan, U.N. Me website. The promotional video for the campaign shows the words "Unlimited Taiwan" transforming into "UN for Taiwan". The caption "Support UN membership for Taiwan" is at the bottom of the screen.

In the end I don't think it is that important whether the statement is grammatically correct or not. The ad campaign is primarily aimed at Taiwanese and a highfalutin English phrase would not be understood by your average Chen in the street. It clearly and effectively communicates the intended message. 

I was earlier somewhat critical of the whale in the fishbowl video and the UN campaign. While I still don't think much of the video, I think the campaign has been very successful with limited resources. Sadly, many people who are pro-Taiwan have been unreasonably critical of the campaign. Taipei Times columnist Johnny Neihu called the campaign "ultimately fruitless".

While Taiwan's campaign to enter the UN may have failed this year that doesn't mean Taiwan should give up. The referendum next year is really crucial for Taiwan. I just hope it doesn't get sabotaged by domestic political infighting. If Taiwanese vote in support of the referendum then the UN and the international community have to start taking Taiwan's entry into the UN seriously. Although Taiwan might fail again next year, at least the debate will go to a new level and the world must begin to acknowledge the desires of the Taiwanese people.  

It is easy to have a negative attitude and think Taiwan has no hope. However, recent history is full of examples of hopeless situations that have suddenly changed for the better. Take the tiny nation of East Timor for example. Ten years ago who would have believed that East Timor would achieve independence? Circumstances can change very rapidly and the continual resistance of the East Timorese to Indonesian rule ensured that East Timor was able to move very rapidly to independence when the opportunity arose.

Taiwan cannot wait for the world to change before it begins its campaign to enter the UN. The campaign has to be continual even if it is unsuccessful. The day will come in the future when Taiwan takes its seat at the UN. Taiwan has to get ready now.  

5 thoughts on “UN membership for Taiwan

  1. The day will come in the future when Taiwan takes its seat at the UN.

    China has veto powers in the UN. Are you predicting that they’ll allow Taiwan to join, or that the UN’s veto system will be scrapped?

  2. Mark, I understand that in the present it is next to impossible for Taiwan to enter the UN. However, circumstances can change and they can change quite quickly. A change in the government in China, reform of the UN or a transformation of the rest of the world’s attitude to China and Taiwan could mean that Taiwan is suddenly in a position where it can enter the UN.

    I gave the example of East Timor. Other examples in recent history can easily be found. Especially the end of communism in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union and the end of apartheid in South Africa. Even just a few years before these things happened many people would have thought these kind of changes were impossible.

  3. So, which do you think is more likely, that China will change its position, or that the current UN veto system will be eliminated?

    You clearly have confidence that Taiwan will enter the UN, so I’m curious to know in which of those two possible ways you envision it happening.

    A transformation of the rest of the world’s opinion doesn’t really have that large of an impact on UN proceedings as long as they have a veto system. Consider how China was able to defeat UN bids for decades before world, and particularly European, support started shifting towards China’s position in the past few years.

  4. I believe that Taiwan will be accepted by UN someday in the near furture if we can have the same voice ‘UN for Taiwan’

  5. Mark, I don’t think I have any great expertise and don’t want to make myself out to be a pundit or anything like that. However, the most likely thing that will happen is political change in China. I don’t have that much hope in the UN itself.

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