May 22, 2022 | The Hill

A new approach to defending Taiwan at the UN

May 22, 2022 | The Hill

A new approach to defending Taiwan at the UN

Excerpt

Bowing to Chinese pressure for the fifth year in a row, the World Health Organization (WHO) is set to arbitrarily deny Taiwan’s request to attend the global health body’s annual agenda-setting meeting this month in Geneva. But, if the Biden administration and Congress are serious about undercutting Beijing’s campaign to delegitimize its democratic rival, then Washington should condition future WHO funding on the reinstatement of Taiwan to its rightful place at the United Nations (UN) specialized agency.

The Chinese Communist Party has long feared recognition of Taiwan as a sovereign state and its potential membership at the UN. The outpouring of sympathy for Ukraine following Russia’s unprovoked invasion has aroused fears that Taiwan would muster similar support if Beijing sought to achieve reunification by force. In response, Beijing has doubled down in claiming that the two scenarios are “totally different” and that Taiwan is an inseparable part of China’s territory. Yet China’s confidence has clearly been shaken. The result: Beijing will intensify its efforts to diplomatically isolate Taiwan, having already succeeded in reducing the number of countries that recognize Taipei from 20 in 2011 to only 13 today.

Luckily for China, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has enacted sweeping measures limiting Taiwan’s meaningful participation in UN activities. Under Guterres’ leadership, the UN has even denied Taiwanese diplomats credentials to access UN facilities. To justify Taiwan’s exclusion, Guterres has cited Beijing’s preferred interpretation of UN General Assembly resolution 2758, which, in 1971, awarded the Chinese seat at the UN to the People’s Republic of China based in Beijing. Still, this resolution did not prohibit Taiwan from participating at the UN and for decades following 2758’s adoption Taiwan regularly contributed to UN initiatives. Perhaps coincidentally, Beijing’s annual financial commitments to the UN have surged to more than $367 million — an increase of 75 percent — during Guterres’ term, making China now the second-largest UN contributor after the United States.

Craig Singleton, a former U.S. diplomat, is a senior China fellow at the non-partisan Foundation for Defense of Democracies.  Follow him on Twitter @CraigMSingleton. FDD is a Washington, DC-based, nonpartisan research institute focusing on national security and foreign policy.

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Issues:

China Indo-Pacific International Organizations