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Jewish World Review / Sept. 18, 1998 / 23 Elul, 5758

Don Feder

Don Feder The nation that doesn't exist

THIS WEEK, THE UNITED NATIONS (that bastion of justice) once again refused to recognize the existence of a sovereign state.

It's a country which meets all of the criteria of nationhood, thus membership, stipulated by the United Nations.

It has a defined territory, a government capable of fulfilling its international obligations and a population of 21.8 million -- more than two-thirds of the UN's 185 members.

The country that isn't there (in the UN's estimation) is the 14th major trading nation, has a per capita gross domestic income of $15,370 and over $84 billion in foreign reserves -- not too bad for a nonexistent nation.

It gives generously to international aid efforts and provided over $130 million in worldwide disaster relief in the past few years.

Its political miracle is even more significant than its economic achievements. A free press? Uninhibited freedom of expression? Opposition parties? Open elections? It has them all.

That phantom nation is the Republic China on Taiwan.

Last week, Taiwan received its 6th setback in a bid to move toward membership in the world body, when the U.N. Steering Committee rejected an motion to bring the issue before the General Assmebly.

Taiwan's supporters asked the U.N. to reconsider its 1971 resolution by which the Republic of China (a charter member of the world body in 1945) was expelled and its seat in the Assembly and on the Security Council presented to the People's Republic of China -- a thoroughly shabby betrayal by which the U.N. demonstrated how far it had moved from the vision of its founders.

Beijing scrambled to crush Taiwan's latest effort, ably assisted by other freedom-loving democracies like Libya, Syria and Belarus.

The United Nations won't even consider granting to the Taiwanese, who've been separate from the mainland for the past half-century, the recognition that every other sovereign national group enjoys.

This notwithstanding that there are ample precedents for dual representation -- East and West Germany before reunification and North and South Koera today.

In its efforts to deny the Taiwanese international recogntion, Beijing has a friend in the White House. From this perspective, Clinton's June trip to China was a disaster.

Previous administrations had engaged in a delicate balancing act. While formally acknowldging that there is but one China, and refusing to extend diplomatic recognition to Taipei, they also admitted (at leats defacto) that the island's fate is in the hands of its people -- by ruling out the use of force in the Taiwan Straights and declaring that the island's security is our concern, as enunciated in the Taiwan Relations Act.

In exchange for a chance to appear on Chinese television and mouth a few platitudes about human rights, Clinton gave Beijing what it wanted most by parroting party line on Taiwan.

Clinton formally embraced the "Three Nos'': "We don't support independence for Taiwan; or two Chinas; or one Taiwan, one China. And we don't believe that Taiwan should be a member in any organization for which statehood is a requirement.'' It was a consummate piece of groveling.

Parris Chang, a member of Taiwan's Legislative Yuan and a leader of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party, blasted Clinton, noting that in the course of his trip the president "espoused democracy and freedom in China, then committed the U.S. to oppose the right of Taiwan, a democratic and open society, to determine its own future.''

The Taiwanese believe that, by every objective standard, they deserve the same recognition and opportunity for participation in world affairs as postage-stamp sized countries, born yesterday, with the GNP of a lemonade stand.

There is, however, a more pressing concern. The Taiwanese look nervously across the body of water that separates them from the mainland. They know that their opponents are ideology-spouting Marxists who refuse to renounce the use of force -- not the sort of people one can reason with.

Understandably, they don't wish to share the fate of the Czechs in 1939, the Balts in 1940 or the residents of Hong Kong in 1997.

That elusive goal of U.N. membership is viewd as an insurance policy, a promise that the rest of the world won't stand idly by if someday Beijing decides to dine on Taiwan.

The Taiwanese have probably put their money on the wrong horse. Still, one must admire their determination. Their annual effort to achieve fairness is a reminder of the gap between the operations of the so-called international community and reality.

Up

9/18/98: The nation that doesn't exist
9/14/98: Bubba isn't the only one who should be ashamed
9/11/98: Resolution of Clinton crisis will define national character
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8/20/98: Time to move on -- to impeachment
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3/16/98: Amendment will end exile of G-d from our public lives
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2/16/98: Enoch Powell spoke the truth on immigration
2/11/98: Bubba behaving badly
2/9/98: A conservative dissent on the flag-burning amendment
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1/25/98: For Monica's playmate, we have no one to blame but ourselves
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1/12/98: Partial-birth abortion and the GOP's future: the "big tent" meets truth in advertising
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©1998, Boston Herald; distributed by Creators Syndicate, Inc.