US condemned for playing the Taiwan card in UN appeal

Finance | BLOOMBERG 28 Oct 2021

China has condemned America's latest overture toward Taiwan, warning that ties between the two countries face "huge risks" just weeks after leaders Xi Jinping and Joe Biden agreed to hold a video summit.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken's call for greater participation by Taiwan in United Nations organizations violated the "one China" understanding between Beijing and Washington, Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said yesterday.

Zhao dismissed the remarks as an attempt to generate sympathy for Taiwan on the world stage.

"If the US continues to play the Taiwan card, it will surely bring game-changing and huge risks to China-US relations," Zhao said.

Earlier, the Taiwan Affairs Office in Beijing urged Taipei to "abandon the illusion of relying on the US for independence," saying the island had "no right" to join the UN a half century after its government was booted out.

How much the dust-up over Taiwan will impact US-China impact ties, including the planned Biden-Xi video summit later this year, is unclear.

When the government in Beijing replaced Taipei's as China's representative at the UN in 1971, it allowed Taiwanese representatives to participate in some international organizations, such as the World Health Organization. Beijing has sought to roll back such arrangements since President Tsai Ing-wen was elected in 2016.

"Taiwan's exclusion undermines the important work of the UN and its related bodies, all of which stand to benefit greatly from its contributions," Blinken said.

"The fact that Taiwan participated robustly in certain UN specialized agencies for the vast majority of the past 50 years is evidence of the value the international community places in Taiwan's contributions."

Although "tens of millions of passengers" traveled annually through its airports, Taiwan was not represented at the International Civil Aviation Organization assembly, Blinken said, adding that Taipei was also absent from the World Health Assembly despite the world having "much to learn" from its pandemic response.

Blinken's comments come after Biden said last week the US was committed to defending Taiwan from a Chinese attack, in some of his strongest comments yet as the administration faces calls to clarify its stance on the island. A White House spokesperson later said Biden was not announcing a change in US policy toward Taiwan.

Xi took a veiled swipe at Washington's efforts on Monday, saying in a speech marking the 50th anniversary of the UN shake-up that China "resolutely opposed hegemonism and power politics."

Xi argued that international rules could only be set by the UN's 193 member states, a group dominated by developing nations with close trade and diplomatic ties to Beijing.

The Biden administration's push for a greater UN role for Taiwan is one area of continuity with former President Donald Trump.

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