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President Chen Shui-bian's Remarks at Video Conference with NYC (UN issue)

  • Date:2007-09-11

President Chen Shui-bian's Remarks
Video Conference with NYC (UN issue)
September 14, 2007

Mr. William Holstein, former president of the Overseas Press Club (OPC) of America; Ambassador John Bolton, former US Permanent Representative to the UN; Ms. Therese Shaheen, former AIT Chairperson; Mr. Bruce Dunning, former director of the Tokyo Bureau of CBS News; Mr. Ian Williams, the British newspaper Guardian's correspondent to the UN; friends from the media, Ladies and Gentlemen: Good Morning!

It is indeed my great pleasure to exchange views with you on issues regarding our UN membership application under the name "Taiwan" by means of this video conference on the eve of the 62nd session of the UN General Assembly. In doing so, we are sending a clear message to the international community of the strong aspiration of Taiwan's 23 million people to join the world body.

Taiwan has the world's 16th largest trade volume, is the 18th largest economy, and ranks the 6th for its innovation competitiveness. Taiwan's population of 23 million people exceeds that of Australia and is just a bit smaller than the combined population of the Netherlands and Belgium. Taiwan's landmass of 36,000 square kilometers is about the same size as Switzerland. However, Taiwan has long been excluded from the United Nations and its very existence ignored. Such unjustified abnormal situation exists not because Taiwan lacks the basic elements that constitute a sovereign state, but rather because the world community is reluctant to face the reality and is short of moral courage to defend justice.

UN General Assembly Resolution 2758, adopted on October 25, 1971, states merely that the UN "decides 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 text of the Resolution in its entirety never mentions "Taiwan" and does not declare that Taiwan is a province of the PRC, nor does it accept the PRC's claim that it has sovereignty over Taiwan. In other words, UN Resolution 2758 only addresses the issue of the representation of "China," but does not touch upon the issue of Taiwan's representation. Accordingly, the PRC has no right, nor does it have the legitimacy, to represent the people of Taiwan in the United Nations.

In the past 36 years, it would seem that the people of Taiwan have been under apartheid and deprived of their rights to express and defend themselves in the international society. Taiwan has been suppressed and treated as an invisible country. Our people have waited long enough for a proper change, and we have experienced more than enough humiliation and frustration. The people of Taiwan deserve every right to demand appropriate representation in the United Nations. Moreover, we have every right to be a full UN member, standing on equal footing with other member states.

Some have claimed that Taiwan is not a sovereign country, or wrongly cited the Resolution 2758 when they denied Taiwan's qualification to apply for UN membership. Some have even denounced Taiwan's efforts to join the UN as an "unnecessary provocation, an attempt to alter the status quo in the Taiwan Strait." In reality, these are just excuses and alibi. The real reason is China's incessant, obsessive attempt to obstruct, intimidate and blockade Taiwan's noble pursuit.

To demand that Taiwan remain silent merely because of China's peremptory and unreasonable attitude, or to expropriate the right of the people of Taiwan to say "no" to China merely because of the threat of a Chinese military invasion of Taiwan, is for the United Nations to allow itself to become a pawn--not just a hostage kidnapped by China, but a debased mouthpiece of the Chinese government. Could the international community possibly accept and be satisfied with such an outcome?

The United Nations is the most important mechanism we have to maintain world peace. However, with regards to the current situation in the Taiwan Strait, due to China's rapid military build-up, continued ballistic missile deployment against Taiwan, and military maneuvers that simulate attacks on Taiwan, the military equilibrium in the Strait is continuously shifting towards China's favor. This seriously threatens the security, stability and peace of the entire Asian Pacific region. The world community should not expect Taiwan to stand alone in the face of a hegemonic China with ever growing military might. The disputes in the Taiwan Strait must be settled by a collective security mechanism through peaceful dialogue. If Taiwan becomes a member of the United Nations, a broader and more stable mechanism for dialogue and negotiations could then be established. Such a mechanism will be conducive to reducing tensions in the Taiwan Strait. Therefore, our application to join the United Nations under the name "Taiwan" not only has nothing to do with changing the status quo in the Taiwan Strait, but also ensures that the status quo is not changed by China.

We have an old saying that a catastrophe can only be stopped at its conception. At the end of World War I, in pursuit of lasting world peace, the Entente victors organized the League of Nations. Lacking the support of the United States, however, the League was later unable to counter the aggression of the Axis powers. Within less than 20 years, WWII broke out. The historical lesson is not far distant: only by firmly saying "no" to belligerent dictators and aggressors can we contain their expansionist ambitions. Compromise and appeasement will only lead to greater loss and catastrophe.

Giving Taiwan's application a fair review and warmly embracing Taiwan as a new member to the UN will help safeguard the interests of Taiwan, Japan, the United States, and other friendly nations. It is an effort that shows respect for the basic rights of the people of Taiwan. It also demonstrates the determination of the UN and the world in defending universal values of freedom, democracy, human rights, peace and justice. It will make all of us more confident of the promise of a more democratic and peaceful world.

Again, I would like to thank the host and all panelists for your participation today and your long-standing support of Taiwan. Tomorrow, there will be a synchronized event entitled "Hand in hands for Taiwan, UN membership" in Kaohsiung and New York City. Thousands of overseas Taiwanese will be gathering in the Dag Hammerjore Plaza in front of the UN headquarters with the sea goddess Ma-tzu from Chiayi, Taiwan. I cordially invite all of you to join us tomorrow, to voice your support for Taiwan's UN membership, and for the ongoing pursuit of freedom, security and prosperity for the people of Taiwan. My best wishes for your health and happiness. Thank you!

【Source: Office of the President】