Taiwan, the UN, What's in a Name?

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Wednesday August 06, by Jerome F. Keating Ph.D.

We have all witnessed how quickly the People's Republic of China (PRC) kept their most recent promise to refer to Taiwan as Zhonghua Taibei (Chinese Taipei) and not Zhongguo Taibei (Taipei, China) as regards the 2008 Olympics. This broken promise followed upon the heels of the previous broken promise that they would originally use this term. But another issue now faces Taiwan, that of United Nations membership. Not to worry, Ma's Cub Scouts are again hard at work, flying by the seat of their pants.

Each year since 1993, Taiwan makes application to regain membership in the United Nations (UN). What name to use is an issue? This is the name game and charade that Taiwan plays with the hypocrites of the world who trade and make money with Taiwan as an equal, who have cultural exchanges with Taiwan as equals, who do everything else with Taiwan as equals but who cannot bring themselves to officially recognize Taiwan as diplomatic equals because that would jeopardize their ability to make money from China.

Traditionally Taiwan had used the name of Republic of China for entry. This was always shot down by China; so last year they switched to the name Taiwan with no greater success. This year Henry Chen, spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) stated that they would not follow the previous administration's (Chen Shui-bian's) strategy. Fair enough, each administration has it own call, so what brainstorm will they come up with for this annual issue?

Ma was elected in March 2008 and he and his cabinets took office in May 2008. Now it is July 2008. Taiwan's application to the UN, a standard annual priority in Taiwan's affairs regardless of administration, is due. Allegedly Ma chose his cabinet on the grounds of their capability and seasoned experience.

Unfortunately MOFA is stuck and seems to be taking its lead from the ostrich Ma. As for names they have a blank. They don't want to offend China. They also don't think they can use previous names because referendums (with their high difficult threshold had failed) though the logic of that tests the mind. MOFA therefore floated the idea that they may use Chinese Taipei, the non-entity name given the Olympic team. Well we all know how much that was honored.

The deadline for application, August 16, draws near; non-plussed, MOFA Chen says, "we will have a strategy by then, I cannot say what it will be, but there is still time." A strategy, yes, two weeks should be enough to whip up a strategy; when much of MOFA has been in place through both administrations.

This is a no-brainer. To think that MOFA can come up with a name that China will approve other than that of PRC satellite is ludicrous. To think they can placate China is ludicrous. The problem in this matter is China and has always been China, not the previous Taiwan administration which Ma keeps trying to paint as the bad guy. Ma's team should be man enough and continue to expose the hypocrisy of the UN whose charter says that people have the right to self determination. They should not try to find a denigrating name that China would accept. Simply tell the Emperor that he has no clothes.

A friend suggested a different name for MOFA to use, one that reflects the attitude of Mr. Ma and his pie-in-the-sky placating lackeys. That name is NITWITS, (Nameless Island Territory Wishing International Ties.) That has a ring to it; it certainly captures the spirit and character of Ma's cub scouts.