President Chen Shui-bian has overplayed his hand.As a result, he has put his ministry of foreign affairs in a no-win position vis-à-vis Taiwan’s continued participation in the World Organization of Animal Health, which is better known as OIE in its French name.The OIE voted on Friday to let China resume the seat it vacated for 15 years and relegate Taiwan to the status of “non-sovereign regional member” with a new name of Chinese Taipei.The country joined the OIE as the Republic of China and had to change its name to “Taipei China” in 1992.
The quandary the Waichiaopu is facing is: To stay or not to stay.Katherine Chang, a vice minister, told the press Taiwan can “partially accept” the new moniker but can’t stomach being kept in the OIE as a non-sovereign state.Chinese Taipei is now popularly used, and the authorities do not mind one more international organization labeling Taiwan as such.But the loss of sovereignty can never be accepted.Chinese Taipei is protesting against this downgrading, though it certainly wants to stay in the OIE.Chang didn’t say what Taipei will do if the protest is – without a shadow of a doubt – rejected.Will Chinese Taipei withdraw from the OIE?
China joined the OIE in 1992 but refused to take its seat in a row over Taiwan’s participation.Beijing didn’t take action to reassert its “one China” dogma until after President Chen had kicked off his “rectification of names” campaign.He wants Taiwan to rejoin international organizations under that name.The World Health Assembly turned down Taipei’s application for accession as full member under the name of Taiwan earlier this month.The foreign ministry will apply for Taipei’s readmission to the United Nations as Taiwan, come September.
A vengeful Beijing is launching a ruthless counterattack.Taipei has to brace for a Chinese broadside at the U.N. General Committee, where the agenda will be set for this year’s General Assembly.The United Nations already recognizes Taiwan as a “province of the People’s Republic of China.”All Beijing has to do is to have that status of Taiwan proclaimed to stop any proposal to make it participate in any U.N. activity under whatever name.
As a matter of fact, Taipei can take comfort in the OIE decision not to oust Taiwan outright.Despite the name and status change, Taiwan’s rights and participation in that world body are not affected.Practical wisdom tells Chinese Taipei to stay in the organization as a non-sovereign regional member.Can President Chen tolerate his being named head of a non-sovereign regional entity?