I have written about Taiwan's de-facto independence in the post "Taiwan is an independent Nation". However, it is truly independent in that it is not even a member of the United Nations, nor does it have official country-level relations with more than a handful of countries. This is entirely due to Communist China's demand that you can either have diplomatic relations with Taiwan or them along with their veto of Taiwan's attempts to apply for UN membership.
Reality forces most countries to choose China, including the US. One side effect of all this is that Taiwan is a place where almost nothing can be found to have been 'Made in China'. None of the politics however has stopped Taiwan from developing into a model first-world country. That says volumes about how beneficial UN Membership really is. The benefit seems to be in not having that International body chained around your country's neck.
Despite this, Taiwan has once again decided that it would like to apply for UN Membership.
Taiwan has submitted its first formal application to join the United Nations, a government spokesman has said.He said an application signed by President Chen Shui-bian had been delivered to the UN Secretary General.The Chinese foreign ministry immediately dismissed the move, saying it was "doomed to failure".Taiwan has long campaigned to join the UN but all such attempts have been blocked by China which regards the island as a breakaway province. - BBC
Traditionally, the excuse to deny Taiwan's application has been China's demand that Taiwan is part of China. The UN and the Member States has gone along with this line of thought. The US has worked to protect against a Communist takeover of Taiwan going as far as selling substantial military equipment to the island along with pledges to provide equipment to defend it. However, it too has masked it's official relations with Taiwan. This is how the US apparently views the situation.
Our policy is based on the principle that there must be no use of force by China against Taiwan. We deny the right of Beijing to impose its rule on the free Taiwanese people. All issues regarding Taiwan's future must be resolved peacefully and must be agreeable to the people of Taiwan. If China violates these principles and attacks Taiwan, then the United States will respond appropriately in accordance with the Taiwan Relations Act. America will help Taiwan defend itself. - Heritage Foundation
Why can't we just end this charade. While it is possible for Taiwan to join with Communist China, as China wants, that will only happen with the approval of the Taiwanese people. So why should those people be isolated for no reason other than Communist China's bullying and goal of eventual domination of the island-nation. Part of attaining that goal is keeping Taiwan isolated internationally.
The UN is not going to approve this application as the Chinese will veto it. So the driving force will have to come from the US or EU. The EU probably would not be able to get all it's member countries to agree to such an act, at least not as the first mover. That leaves the US. China-US relations are primarily driven by the US trying not to upset the Chinese while pushing for reforms. As a result, the Taiwan issue has been set aside as counterproductive. Since there has not been a payoff of any sort of substantial reforms in China, why not upset the apple cart?
What could the Chinese do in response?
- Invade Taiwan? - Not likely as it would result in 1 billion unemployed Chinese. (or however many would be left it the shooting got serious.)
- Undervalue their currency? - Well they are doing that now and despite pressure by the US to let their currency float they still manipulate it. Look at this post from last year where I graph that the Yuan-Euro exchange rate is mirroring the Dollar-Euro exchange rate.
- Cuttoff exports to the US? - That would most likely hurt China much more than the US. They need the US market for their products, plain and simple. (I think that we will quickly manage to cope not having access to cheap crap. This might be the biggest reason for pissing off the Chinese.)
So maybe the US should have some behind-the-scene discussions with China asking them to think long and hard about what they consider really important. There is another factor that makes now an ideal time to sort out the Taiwan issue. That is the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. You see, while China might not be able to pressure the US to undue any formal recognition of Taiwan, it can however, move to punish other nations that do. But with the Olympics being hosted in China, that would quickly lead to a Chinese 'loss of face' if those nations boycott the Olympics in return. The Chinese are desperate to avoid any issue upsetting the Olympics.
Lets face it, if the Chinese had things stacked in their favor, they would take advantage of the opportunity. Darfur is a perfect example of that. Actually, now might be a good time to confront China on a number of issues besides Taiwan. How about Their defense of Sudan's actions in Darfur, Tibet and questionable weapons exports for starters. Then there is the whole issue of human Rights, pollution and even global warming.
The simple fact is that the 2008 Olympics will be a huge propaganda present for China. It will be impossible to obtain any concessions from them after the Olympics. So now is the time to right some longstanding wrongs. Taiwan is one of them.
So what are we waiting for?
Update: 26 July
I suspect that we will be seeing more people doing this over the next year:
Steven Spielberg, under pressure from Darfur activists, may quit his post as artistic adviser to the 2008 Beijing Olympics, unless China takes a harder line against Sudan, a representative of the film director told ABC News.China, Sudan's largest oil customer and perennial defender, has come under renewed scrutiny in the lead up to the Olympics, as the country juggles its need for cheap energy with its desire to host a trouble-free games. - ABC News
Sudan is just one of many pressure points the Chinese are going to be pressed about by governments and activists alike.
Taiwan applies for UN membership - BBC
Taiwan is an independent Nation - 21 April 2005
Taiwan is an independent Nation: Update - 4 Oct 2005