Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has reminded us how little autocracies care about humanitarian atrocities. The war is a gross violation of human rights and the principle of peaceful settlement of international disputes as codified in the United Nations Charter, which has helped maintain the rules-based international order and kept the world in relative peace since the end of the Cold War.
In today’s globalized world, even localized crises may have a global impact. It is therefore imperative to deter similar threats from happening elsewhere. Taiwan—a democracy that is home to over 23 million people and that I proudly represent—continues to confront enormous challenges posed by China.
Despite never having ruled Taiwan, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has for decades vowed to take control of the island and refused to renounce the use of force. The people of Taiwan have remained calm, safeguarding the status quo of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait. However, as China’s power has grown, so too has its aggressiveness—threatening our democratic way of life. They have sent warplanes and ships across the Taiwan Strait’s median line, encroached into our air defense identification zones, and intensified gray-zone tactics like disinformation and economic coercion against us in an attempt to wear down our will to fight.
But China’s aggressive behavior goes well beyond Taiwan. Through gray-zone activities in the East and South China Seas, China is attempting to expand its power and solidify its false territorial claims. In addition to signing a security agreement with the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific, the PRC has been securing ports for future military use in the Indian Ocean. All of these maneuvers are causing grave concerns that peace is becoming more difficult to maintain.
It is in the interest of every country in the world to ensure peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait. Half of the world’s commercial container traffic passes through the Taiwan Strait every day. Taiwan produces the majority of the world’s semiconductors and plays a key role in global supply chains. Any conflict in the area would have disastrous consequences for the global economy.
The best forum for discussion of these important issues is the United Nations. UN officials often speak of joint solutions, solidarity, and inclusion in tackling the pressing issues of our time. Taiwan is willing and able to take part in these efforts.
However, Taiwan continues to be excluded from the UN due to China’s distortion of UN General Assembly Resolution 2758. This resolution neither states that Taiwan is a part of the PRC nor gives the PRC the right to represent the people of Taiwan in the UN and its specialized agencies. The resolution only determines who represents the member state China, which China itself and the international community recognized following the relevant vote in 1971. The subsequent misrepresentation of Resolution 2758 contradicts the basic principles upheld by the UN Charter and must be rectified.
The 78th session of the UN General Assembly, centering on the theme “rebuilding trust and reigniting global solidarity,” is timely in light of a number of global challenges. For example, the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were designed as a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity. Yet the most recent SDG progress report showed that just 12 percent of SDG targets were on track, while progress on 50 percent has remained insufficient. And on more than 30 percent, we have stalled or even regressed.
As a truly global institution, the UN can serve as a champion of progress. We call on the UN to uphold its principle of leaving no one behind by allowing Taiwan to participate in the UN system, rather than excluding it from discussions on issues requiring global cooperation. A good first step would be to allow Taiwanese individuals and journalists to attend or cover relevant meetings, as well as ensure Taiwan’s meaningful participation in meetings and mechanisms regarding the SDGs.
The bravery and resilience of the Ukrainian people have inspired freedom-loving people of all nations, forging a new sense of democratic solidarity around the world. Unity is crucial to pushing back against Russia’s aggression and to preserving the universal values of human rights and global peace more broadly.
Authoritarian governments need to know that they will be held accountable for their aggression, and the only way to settle differences is through peaceful means. Allowing Taiwan to meaningfully participate in the UN system would benefit the world’s efforts to address pressing global issues and demonstrate the UN’s determination to unite for global peace at a critical juncture when the future of the world is at stake.
We are stronger together. Now is the time to act on this fundamental principle by including Taiwan.
Jaushieh Joseph Wu is the Minister of Foreign Affairs for the Republic of China (Taiwan).