Joseph Wu: Working as one for the global good

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      Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Taiwan has always stood shoulder to shoulder with Canada. The people of Taiwan have expressed their solidarity in a multitude of ways, including the critical donation of 500,000 surgical masks to Canadian frontline healthcare workers in April 2020, and the allocation of $110,000 to the Canadian Red Cross for relief programs following the torrential floods in British Columbia last November. Taiwan also sent over 550 tons of relief supplies to the people of Ukraine following the Russian invasion of their country, in addition to making over US$40 million in donations for Ukrainian refugees.

      Taiwan’s steadfast support for its friends across Canada and the world is reflective of its role as a responsible global actor capable of meeting the moment and tackling challenges, no matter where they are.

      Looking ahead, Taiwan is well-positioned to contribute more of its capabilities to address some of the world’s most complex challenges. With a concrete blueprint to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, Taiwan is actively combatting climate change and bringing the UN Sustainable Development Goals into fruition—a commitment shared by all levels of government across Canada. Home to key semiconductor manufacturers, Taiwan has continued to play a pivotal role in serving transnational supply chains and maintaining global economic stability; the country is currently Canada’s fifth largest trading partner in Asia and the world’s 22nd largest economy. And as a defender for democracy, Taiwan is at the forefront of defending the rules-based international order. While certain actors are using coercion to export its brand of authoritarianism abroad, Taiwan lets its free and open society lead by example.

      Sadly, Taiwan is unable to participate in the largest and most important forum of global cooperation—the United Nations and its specialized agencies—due to relentless obstruction by the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The exclusion of Taiwan from the WHO, UNFCCC, and the ICAO has left a critical gap in global healthcare, sustainability, and aviation frameworks, which can lead to grave consequences. Regardless of the PRC’s attempts to impose its fictional “One China principle”, the status quo is an unshakable fact and an inalienable part of reality: Taiwan and the PRC have always existed as separate jurisdictions, as the two sides were never subordinate to each other. The people of Taiwan can only be represented in the international community by their free and democratically elected government.

      The UN Charter has clearly stipulated that the purposes and principles of the United Nations are to maintain international peace and stability, and that international disputes should be resolved by peaceful means. However, by conducting military exercises in areas around Taiwan, Beijing has undermined the status quo in the Taiwan Strait, escalated tensions, disrupted international trade routes, and harmed regional peace and security. Such irresponsible actions need to be condemned and brought to a halt. Given the current circumstances, it is even more important for the UN and its member states to stop such a member, which is ironically an occupant of the UN Security Council, to manipulate and dictate the positions of the organization to suit its own political agenda. Acquiescing to the PRC’s unfounded claims over Taiwan will only destabilize the Indo-Pacific region, which is also against the very purpose of the UN.

      No matter what happens, Taiwan will resolutely defend its sovereignty and security. As a responsible member of the international community, Taiwan will continue to exercise restraint in response to the PRC’s provocations, and work together with like-minded countries to uphold regional peace and stability. And as we have shown the world over the years, we will continue to fulfill our global responsibilities by actively engaging with and contributing to the international community.

      The theme of the 77th session of the UN General Assembly, “A watershed moment: transformative solutions to interlocking challenges”, pointedly reminds us of the grave challenges facing the international community: the COVID-19 pandemic, food and energy shortages, disrupted global supply chains, and climate change, the list goes on. When the UN talks about “joint solutions” and “solidarity” to tackle “interconnected crises”, we could not agree more. Taiwan is more than willing and able to be part of such collective solutions. The 23.5 million people of resilient and democratic Taiwan should definitely not be excluded from such important global efforts.

      We are thankful that countries worldwide are beginning to realize what Taiwan can offer. More and more people are supporting Taiwan’s principled efforts to enter the UN system, and we are especially appreciative that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has publicly expressed Canadian support for Taiwan’s meaningful participation in multilateral mechanisms like the World Health Organization. We also acknowledge Canada’s role in working with G7 countries to outline clear expectations against any unilateral changes to the status quo.

      Our shared obstacles require all hands on deck. Grave, complex, and interconnected problems cannot be resolved until the entire world comes together. Taiwan has proved to be a reliable and indispensable partner, and the people of Taiwan stand ready to contribute more. Let’s work together as one for the global good!