Courtesy Reuters

The Future of Taiwan: A View from Taipei

The Republic of China (R.O.C.) has a unique international personality. It was a founding member of the United Nations, yet since 1971 it has not been a member state of the U.N. or of any of its specialized agencies. It has scored impressive successes in political, economic and social development and in science and technology—indeed, the R.O.C. today is ranked as one of the most developed of the developing countries. Yet it has been asked to leave the World Bank, the World Health Organization, UNESCO, the International Atomic Energy Agency and other international organizations. The R.O.C. even faces the danger of losing its membership in the Asian Development Bank.

Despite these setbacks, the R.O.C. on Taiwan still enjoys wide contacts with many nations and international bodies. It is still recognized by 25 nations and maintains substantive (though unofficial) relations with more than 140 others. Some 21 nations have official representation in Taiwan, and the R.O.C. maintains 90 official and unofficial offices abroad. It is a member of ten international organizations that limit their membership to governments, and of 656 non-governmental international organizations.

The base for the Chinese Nationalist Party (the Kuomintang) since 1949, when Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek’s forces withdrew from the mainland, Taiwan lies 100 miles off the coast. A population of 18.7 million inhabit a land area of about 14,000 square miles, forming one of Asia’s most dynamic free industrial and trading economies.

For 36 years, the People’s Republic of China (P.R.C.) has sought unsuccessfully to diminish the R.O.C.’s international stature. As late as March 1982, the P.R.C. Foreign Ministry circulated a note to all foreign embassies in Peking, demanding promises that they neither establish offices in Taiwan nor allow official or unofficial R.O.C. representation in their countries.

The R.O.C. has been able to maintain a vigorous international existence for several reasons. First, it has effectively exercised sovereign control over Taiwan and Penghu (the Pescadores), and

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