Sunday, March 09, 2008

Pyongyang’s joke

With the presidential election in Taiwan approaching, the number of countries that have voiced reservations concerning the referendums on joining the UN — to be held simultaneously with the vote on March 22 — has risen. China, of course, has stated that the referendums are wrong, while other countries, foes and allies alike, have used the full spectrum provided by the English language to express their disagreement. Another country joined the fray yesterday, whose pronouncement, though it did not add an ounce to the diplomatic pressure on Taiwan, surely added humor to the otherwise sad attempt to smother a democratic voice in Asia.

That country was North Korea.

Pyongyang condemned Taiwan for attempting to join the UN, arguing yesterday that the move would escalate tension in the region. "This move by Taiwanese authorities is a grave act that aggravates the situation in the Taiwan Strait and in Northeast Asia,” the North Korean Foreign Ministry said.

A grave act? Aggravating tension in Northeast Asia? If one country is not qualified to make pronouncements on what other nations should or shouldn’t do, it is North Korea, which in recent years has, to name a few transgressions, starved its people, broken every existing non- proliferation regulations, tested a nuclear weapon and fired missiles over Japan.

Oddly, Pyongyang’s statement could be helpful to Taiwan, as it adds an international basket case to the group of countries that have expressed their opposition to the UN referendums. Should the choose to continue opposing Taipei on the matter, they might now be compelled to qualify that opposition, lest it be seen to mirror Pyongyang’s. It is one thing to side with China or fear the consequences of a referendum; it is an altogether different one to hum the same tune as the Hermit Kingdom’s and its megalomaniac leader.

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