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President Chen Shui-bian's Remarks at a Video Conference Hosted by the American Enterprise Institute

  • Date:2007-09-06

September 6, 2007
Mr. Christopher DeMuth, President of the American Enterprise Institute, Moderator Dan Blumenthal and the five distinguished panelists: Representative Dana Rohrabacher, co-chair of the House Taiwan Caucus, Dr. Michael Green, former Senior Director of the National Security Council, Dr. Kurt Campbell, President of the Center for a New American Security, Dr. Vincent Wang, Professor of the Department of International Studies at Richmond University, and Dr. Gary Schmitt, Director of Advanced Strategic Studies at the American Enterprise Institute, Representative Joseph Jawshieh Wu, Distinguished Guests and Friends. Good Morning!

First of all, I would like to thank the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) for holding this video conference between Washington, DC and Taipei on the subject of "The United Nations and Taiwan Democracy." I believe that the continued communication and exchange of views will allow our American friends and the international community to better understand the implications of joining the United Nations (UN) under the name "Taiwan". It will also allow everyone to better understand the connection between, and the need for, a referendum on joining the United Nations and consolidating democracy in Taiwan.

On September 13, 2006, the General Committee of the United Nations once again turned down Taiwan's bid to participate in the UN. I made it clear then that we would have to seriously consider whether or not an alternative strategy was needed in order to secure our right to participate in the UN. On July 20 of this year, I formally submitted my country's application for UN membership under the name "Taiwan" to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. In the past, despite having repeatedly emphasized our desire to participate in some capacity in the United Nations, we had never formally filed an application. This year, however, we decided to alter our strategy and not to again sell ourselves short. We not only want to apply for UN membership, we also want to do so under the name "Taiwan" and in the capacity of a new member state.

Taiwan is not part of the People's Republic of China (PRC). Taiwan is an independent sovereign country and its national sovereignty rests with the 23 million people of Taiwan. This is not only a fact, but it is also the status quo of the Taiwan Strait. There is no need for anybody to tell us whether or not Taiwan is a country. Moreover, Taiwan and PRC are two separate countries, each having independent sovereignty, neither exercises jurisdiction over the other. In other words, there is one country on each side of the Taiwan Strait, Taiwan on one side, and China on the other.

Regarding Resolution 2758, passed by the UN General Assembly on October 25, 1971, this resolution only "decides," and I quote, "to restore all its rights to the People's Republic of China and to recognize the representatives of its Government as the only legitimate representatives of China to the United Nations, and to expel forthwith the representatives of Chiang Kai-shek from the place… [which they unlawfully occupy] at the United Nations and in all the organizations related to it." The Resolution in its entirety never once mentions "Taiwan." Furthermore, it neither declares Taiwan to be a province of PRC, nor does it accept PRC's assertion of sovereignty over Taiwan. Hence, PRC has no right, and is in fact unable, to represent the 23 million people of Taiwan in the United Nations. It is the people of Taiwan who have the right to ask for appropriate representation in the UN, and it is the people of Taiwan who have even more of a right to request to apply for UN membership from a position of equality.

According to the UN Charter and the Rules of Procedure of the UN Security Council and the General Assembly, Taiwan's membership application should be reviewed and decided upon by the Security Council and General Assembly. The fact that Taiwan is a sovereign country must not be ignored simply based on China's opposition, suppression and boycotting of the issue. Moreover, the fundamental human rights of the 23 million people of Taiwan cannot be stripped away by the UN Secretariat's unlawful abuse of power. I sincerely hope that those countries that love freedom and democracy, and respect human rights, justice and peace, will speak out from a position of justice in the upcoming UN General Assembly, and allow Taiwan the opportunity to have its membership application reviewed fairly.

Over the past half-century, China has neither renounced the use of force against Taiwan nor given up its ambition to annex Taiwan. China continues to deploy ballistic missiles along its southeastern coast targeting Taiwan. The current number of these missiles stands at nearly one thousand, and is increasing by 120 to 150 missiles per year. China's People's Liberation Army has formulated a three-stage military plan for war against Taiwan. These three stages are: to establish combat capabilities for comprehensive contingency response by the end of this year; to build up combat capabilities for large-scale military engagement by 2010; and to ensure victory in a decisive battle by 2015. Furthermore, on March 14, 2005, despite the international community's unanimous opposition, China passed the so-called "Anti-secession Law" which supposedly lays the legal foundation for a military invasion of Taiwan. Over the last year, attempting to unilaterally change the status quo in the Taiwan Strait and constrict Taiwan's space on the international stage, China has further pressured the UN Secretariat to declare that Taiwan is part of PRC, a claim which is, in all reality, false.

In the past, we made compromises on the choice of name for application and method of participation. However, time has shown us that compromise fails to bring us satisfactory results and only leads to continued and relentless suppression. This situation forces us to seriously consider changing our policy and submitting future applications to join the UN under the name "Taiwan." Such actions not only reflect the fact that Taiwan is a sovereign country, but also stem from the general need to defend the status-quo of the Taiwan Strait from being unilaterally changed by China.

As a member of the global society and the democratic community, we understand very well that in reality the political term "Republic of China" was conceived to challenge and deny the legality of the "People's Republic of China." Therefore, applying to rejoin the UN under the name "Republic of China" would be the equivalent of asking the PRC to return its UN seat to us, the Republic of China. This would also resurrect the KMT's ignorant, unwise, unrealistic and obsolete stance that "gentlemen don't stand with thieves." Today, our application to join the UN as a new member under the name "Taiwan" reaffirms that we have no intention of challenging Resolution 2758, or of engaging in a fight with the PRC over "China's representation." In contrast, we hope to show the world that Taiwan is pragmatic and responsible in its desire to participate in the international community.

Established in 1945, the United Nations is the mankind's greatest achievement in the pursuit of peace and freedom. Over the past six decades, the UN has grown in an attempt to incorporate and embrace all nations with passion and sincerity, regardless of size, population or degree of economic development. Applying for UN membership is never seen as a provocative act, except in the sole case of Taiwan, which has been repeatedly shut out of the UN. I believe that Taiwan's preclusion was not initiated by the UN as a whole, or by the international community. Rather, it has been instigated by China. Due to China's ruthless suppression, obstruction and denial of Taiwan, we have been unable to become a UN member. This renders the UN's principle of universality an empty concept.

After two devastating world wars, the allied powers established the UN to serve as a collective security mechanism in hopes of paving the way for long-term peace and stability of the human society. The UN should not become a playground for rogue nations. If Taiwan is to be precluded from the UN and Taiwan's 23 million people are to be deprived of the basic human right to collective security merely because of China's military threats and intimidation, we cannot help but ask what is in store for us next. The lessons we learned in the past are not distant: silence over injustices spawns evil, and appeasement breeds aggression and creates the quickest shortcut to war.

Our dear friends in Washington, D.C.: for years, Taiwan and the United States have held an alliance based on the values of freedom and democracy, and acted as loyal strategic partners to defend security, peace, and stability in the Asia Pacific region. Of course, our stances on certain issues, such as using the name "Taiwan" to enter the UN and holding a referendum on the matter, may differ. However, by no means should these differences undermine the profound friendship between the peoples of Taiwan and the United States. I believe that, through candid and cordial dialogue, we can reconcile our differences in order to continue fighting for our shared belief in freedom, democracy, human rights, justice and peace.

At this point, I would like to quote a popular song, "The Impossible Dream," from the Broadway musical Man of La Mancha in order to express the determination and will of the people of Taiwan to join the United Nations--a sentiment that I share.

The song goes:
To dream the impossible dream
To fight the unbeatable foe
To bear with unbearable sorrow
To run where the brave dare not go

To right the unrightable wrong
To love pure and chase from afar
To try when your arms are too weary to reach the unreachable star

This is my quest, to follow that star
No matter how hopeless, no matter how far
To fight for the right without question or pause
To be willing to march into hell for a heavenly cause

And I know if I'll only be true to this glorious quest
That my heart will be peaceful and calm when I'm laid to my rest
And the world will be better for this
That one man scorned and covered with scars
Still strove with his last ounce of courage
To reach the unreachable star

Our bid to join the United Nations with the name of "Taiwan" is not just a simple struggle or contest between a democratic, free Taiwan and a communist, authoritarian China. It is also a fight between justice and evil within the international community. As long as we follow the path of justice, light and goodness will prevail over darkness and evil. Our commitment will also lead to permanent peace, freedom, prosperity and happiness for all mankind, including the 1.3 billion people of China.

In closing, I would like to once again thank the American Enterprise Institute for its gracious invitation, and the audience for participating in today's discussion. May each of you enjoy good health and every success! Thank you very much!

【Source: Office of the President】