The Taiwan External Trade Development Council announced on Friday that for the first time since 1970, Taiwan will take part in the World Exhibition, which will be held in Shanghai next year. So far, so good. Taiwan’s coming in from the cold.
The problem, however, is that Taiwan will participate, with its own pavilion and all, not as Taiwan, the Republic of China, “Chinese Taipei” or any of the other names by which it has been called over the years. It will do so as an NGO — yes, a non-governmental organization.
Given the participation of 190 countries and dozens of international organizations, the Expo will undoubtedly be a great opportunity for participants to showcase their cultures and accomplishments. In that regard, Taiwan’s presence will be welcome, as it has lots to offer to the world and deserves to be recognized. But as an NGO? Doesn’t Taiwan have a government? Would it not have been better to participate as, say, a “special entity,” or under a name that at least leaves room for interpretation?
The danger with the term NGO is that it sets a new baseline for Taiwan’s recognition internationally. In other words, it is a downgrade from the “province of China” designation seen at the WHO and other global organizations. Prior to this, an upgrade in Taiwan’s status would have been from “province” to official statehood. Once it becomes an NGO, even to be called a province (which at least has its own government) would require an upgrade in status.
Taiwan is no longer a country. It’s not even a province anymore. It has become a bodiless entity. Just when you thought the Taiwanese government’s dignity had reached rock bottom ...
Under Lee Teng-hui and Chen Shui-bian:
You are a frog, says the bully. At most, a child. No, says the bullied. I am a man.
Under Ma Ying-jeou:
You are not a man, says the bully. You are a child. No, says the bullied. I am a frog.