Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Countries Behaving Not So Badly

If Taco Bell had its way, you'd never eat at Pizza Hut.

Only thing is, Taco Bell can't enforce such a dictate.

But, as I noted in an Ontario Empoblog post a couple of years ago, China can. I previously quoted this statement from the International Labor Organization.

Taiwan should not be treated as a country, since its status is that of a province of the People's Republic of China. If in exceptional cases it has to be mentioned in an ILO publication or document it should be referred to as Taiwan, China.

This story is re-emerging again, as Positive Liberty notes. There's a country that doesn't recognize the wisdom of the International Labor Organization, and has done something terrible.

St. Lucia will not change its decision to re-establish diplomatic relations with Taiwan despite China's intimidation, St. Lucian Minister of Foreign Affairs Rufus Bousquet said Thursday.

Stressing that St. Lucia is a sovereign country with the right to choose its allies, Bousquet urged China to stop interfering in his country's internal affairs.

Bousquet told the Central News Agency that since becoming aware of St. Lucia's plan to restore ties with Taiwan, Beijing has threatened to terminate its cooperation projects with St. Lucia and even withdraw from the Caribbean Development Bank -- a financial institution assisting Caribbean nations in financing social and economic programs.

Between mid March and late April, when St. Lucia's Cabinet was debating whether to resume diplomatic ties with Taiwan, China suspended various development projects that it funded in St. Lucia, including a mental hospital near the capital, according to Bousquet.

Bousquet said Beijing also asked the leaders of its allies in the Caribbean region as well as the secretary-general of the Caribbean Community to call St. Lucian Prime Minister John Compton to exert pressure on his country.

Matt has an opinion on the subject:

The Minister for External Affairs Rufus Bousquet, claimed to be pleased that, unlike in 1997, there was some discussion about the China/Taiwan issue before switching allegiances which is essentially what happened, despite the talk about not severing relations with China. He said he noted the people were given an opportunity to discuss this issue in the streets and on the airwaves....Bousquet also said in his budget presentation that he doesn’t consider the callers to the various talk shows to be representative of the St Lucian public. So much for that.

However, if the minister was serious about getting the consensus from the people, then what his party could have done was place their position in their election manifesto so the people could have gone to the polls knowing what they were voting for. Further, there could have been discussion in Parliament. Now I am not necessarily saying they were obligated to do so; but they (he) shouldn’t be so disingenuous to claim that there was consultation with the public....

So all we did was just get China pissed off and we’re still not quite sure why. As I’ve stated before, I believe that our foreign policy, and indeed most of our domestic policy, should be pragmatic, not ideological.

And China is always pragmatic:

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said in a statement that the resumption of "diplomatic relations" between St. Lucia and Taiwan was a flagrant violation of the declaration on the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and St. Lucia....

China has recently repeated its concerns over St. Lucia's inclination to develop official links with Taiwan, which the international community recognizes as an inseparable part of China.

Inseparable? Well, that's kinda sorta the official position of the U.S. State Department:

With the establishment of diplomatic relations with China on January 1, 1979, the US Government recognized the People's Republic of China as the sole legal government of China and acknowledged the Chinese position that there is only one China and that Taiwan is part of China.

On that State Department web page, Taiwan is placed in a special list with the following footnote:

Claimed by both the Government of the People's Republic of China and the authorities on Taiwan. Administered by the authorities on Taiwan.

So the island is occupied by non-governmental "authorities." And there's another non-governmental institution that comes into play here.

The American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) is a non-profit, private corporation established shortly after the United States Government changed its diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing on January 1, 1979. The Taiwan Relations Act (PL 96-8) of April 10, 1979, authorized the continuation of "commercial, cultural and other relations between the people of the United States and the people on Taiwan." It also provided that "any programs, transactions, or other relations conducted or carried out by the President or any Agency of the United States Government with respect to Taiwan shall, in the manner and to the extent directed by the President, be conducted and carried out by or through the American Institute in Taiwan." The Department of State, through a contract with the Institute, provides a large part of AIT's funding and guidance in its operations. Congress, in passing the Taiwan Relations Act, also assumed an oversight role with respect to the Institute's operations.

But how private is this organization? Look at their copyright notice.

Links to Department sites are welcomed. Unless a copyright is indicated, information on the Department of State Web Site is in the public domain and may be copied and distributed without permission. Citation of the U.S. State Department as source of the information is appreciated.

If a copyright is indicated on a photo, graphic, or other material, permission to copy these materials must be obtained from the original source. For photos without captions or with only partial captions, hold your cursor over the photo to view the "alt tag" for any copyright information.

Please note that the U.S. Government has an international copyright on Country Commercial Guides.

In some ways, it's entirely appropriate for our relations with capitalist Taiwan to be conducted under (pseudo) private auspices - private enterprise at work! The model doesn't quite fit for relations with Cuba, however.


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