Thursday, December 9, 2010

Needling China?

As ministers from all around the world make their formal statements it is an interesting exercise to try and read between the lines and understand what it is the countries are actually trying to accomplish with the messages they convey. One interesting theme that has subtly started to pop up over the last couple of days is that members of the small island states have repeatedly made reference to the fact that they think that Taiwan should be present and allowed to fully participate in the UNFCCC process. They may have done this last year as well but I don't remember it. See the clip containing the statement from the representative of Tuv'alu below:

Taiwan is excluded from UN participation because they are not recognized as being a separate country distinct from China. Mainland China does not recognize Taiwan as an independent country, rather it is an occupied territory of China itself. The Taiwanese do not exactly agree. If you really want to get the Chinese government agitated, start advocating the rights of Taiwan as an independent country.

An innocent explanation for this is that Taiwan is a major supporter of many small island states and they are therefore, simply making a formal statement acknowledging this relationship without ever thinking that things would change. But it is possible that these repeated references to the legitimacy of Taiwan are specifically meant to be a shot across the bow of China warning them that in the structure of UN deliberations, they could make trouble if they are pushed too far.

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