Taiwan is a modern industrialized megalopolis clinging to the fringes of an ancient culture; a string of teeming cities at the feet of a glorious mountain range. It has traditional noodles from a 7-Eleven, aboriginal tribes in mini-skirts and a day of temple rituals followed by waterslide rides. (from Lonely Planet)
Go visit Taiwan.
I had a meeting with the cultural representative of the Taiwan office in TelAviv-Israel this week. Mr. Eddie Yang, who I first met on Chinese New Years at the Taiwanese ambassadors’ house party, met with me to discuss Taiwanese education. After the official business was done, I discussed with Mr. Yang how Taiwan is perceived around the world, and he told me about some of Taiwan’s recent activities. The representative has kindly requested that I help further promote Taiwan tourism and the latest Taiwan World Health Organization (WHO) UN Bid in Israel. Mr. Yang was thrilled to hear about our little English expat Taiwanese blogosphere and the Taiwanderful project, gave me a few DVDs and promotional material, and directed me to a blog on the WHO issue that he hopes expats will login and write their comments.
I wrote about Israel’s (surprising) support for Taiwan’s UN bid a few months ago, and after the SARS crisis it’s obvious why the WHO is important for Taiwan.
About Taiwan’s WHO bid
What I don’t get is why a Taiwanese official would direct me to what seems like an amateur blogspot blog? I agree with Michael Turton :
A friend of mine in the Taiwan government sent me this link to a new blog set up by Taiwan Thinktank to promote the island’s entry into the World Health Organization (WHO). I heartily agree that our fair island should be a member, but ….well…. see for yourself. It’s a blogspot blog. Taiwan is not in the name. The header and sidebar pics have nothing to do with Taiwan (a fat white baby??). The owner is anonymous. No tagging system is used. No sitemeter or other metering service is apparent. Outgoing links appear to be limited. The owner of the blog appears to be unaware that blogging is about building community….. just a minor but illustrative example of the ongoing problem the Green side has in handling communications with the outside world.
Does this mean giving up the fight? then why personally invite me to visit the site and invite others? Strange. I do think the 2006 official website – "WHO needs help, Take Taiwan’s hand, Give Taiwan a role" – is more efficient, even though Taiwan’s applying for a full membership now, having previously requested an observation status. Heck, even the 2003 site looks better.
On the latest WHO bid :
Taiwan said Thursday it is planning to launch a new bid to join the World Health Organization (WHO) as a member under the name "Taiwan" in a move likely to anger rival China. [...]
Since 1997, Taipei’s annual attempts to become an observer at the WHA as a "health entity" have been thwarted by Beijing, which considers the island part of its territory awaiting reunification. [...]
Taiwan was evicted from the WHO in 1972, a year after losing the "China" seat in the United Nations to Beijing. Names and titles are highly symbolic issues in the row between Taiwan and China, which split after the end of a civil war in 1949.
What is China saying about this? :
Taiwan is not eligible for membership in the World Health Organization, nor is it even qualified to apply, a Chinese government spokesman said late on Sunday. "The WHO is a specialized U.N. agency which only sovereign nations can join, Taiwan is not qualified at all to join or apply for a membership". [...]
Taiwan has sought observer status in the Geneva-based WHO in past years under its official name, the Republic of China. But the attempts were all blocked by China, which has more diplomatic allies among the WHO’s 193 member states than Taiwan, recognized by only a handful of small nations mostly in Africa, the South Pacific and Central America. [...]
"No matter how Taiwan authorities change their tricks, their attempt to use the health issue to serve ‘Taiwan independence’ will never succeed," Qin said.
Seems a bit hopeless, as was the UN bid that applied as "Taiwan" instead of ROC, but success might not be what Taiwan’s hoping for with those bids. More from Michael :
Taiwan has adopted this strategy for two reasons, the first being a general sense of frustration among Taiwanese voters with past failures of pursuing observer status under the “meaningful participation” banner. A recent poll by the private organization Taiwan Thinktank in Taipei showed 94.9 percent of people interviewed believe that Taiwan should be a member of the WHO, and after a decade of failure the democratic government there now seems open to trying something new.