The Republic of China:
A New Model for Human Rights and Democracy in the 21st Century

By Chih-cheng Lo

Taiwan Headlines, October 10, 2000

The Republic of China has been a sovereign state since it was established in 1912. Its democratic development reached a new level in 1996, with the holding of the nation's first direct election of the president. In March 2000, the Democratic Progressive Party’s candidates, Chen Shui-bian and Annette Lu, were elected the tenth-term president and vice president of the ROC. Taiwan experienced its first peaceful transfer of power in a half century and the peaceful transition of power proved that democracy in Taiwan had reached a new level of maturity.

Since assuming office, President Chen Shui-bian has emphasized strengthening democracy and the protection of human rights. He has declared that the ROC, although not a member of the United Nations, would abide by the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and various other international human rights agreements. He has also proposed a national human rights committee to safeguard the universal values of human rights. The president has expressed his hope that the ROC would become a full participant in the international human rights system, making Taiwan a new model for human rights in the 21st century.

The ROC is known throughout the world for its extraordinary economic achievements and has been recognized in recent years for its vibrant democracy and respect for human rights. The ROC is willing to share its valuable experiences in democratic and economic development. Unfortunately, the authorities in Beijing have repeatedly interfered in the ROC’s foreign relations to the detriment of the international community.

As a democratic nation and member of the global community, the ROC upholds international human rights standards and democracy. It responsibly assists developing nations with generous economic and humanitarian aid programs. Thus, it is clearly unfair to deny membership in the United Nations to the 23 million people of Taiwan, who cherish peace, democracy, and freedom. ROC participation in the UN would not only enhance bilateral interaction between Taiwan and the Chinese mainland, but also strengthen prospects for peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region.

Denying Taiwan the opportunity to share its experience in economic development and democratization is a great loss to the world. If Taiwan is allowed to join such world organizations as the World Bank and the IMF, which work to improve life in the developing world, it will be able to make invaluable contributions to development.

There are many non-governmental organizations in Taiwan, which are active in humanitarian work around the world. These groups wish to establish partnerships with non-governmental organizations in other countries and share their experiences. Support for ROC membership in these international organizations would assist Taiwan’s non-governmental organizations to maximize their effectiveness throughout the world.

Taiwan's devastating September 21, 1999 earthquake caused heavy loss of life and property. Many countries, whether or not they had diplomatic ties with the ROC, quickly provided rescue assistance and emergency relief, leaving a deep impression on the people of Taiwan. Consequently, the people of Taiwan understand the importance of reaching out to help those in need. ROC membership in important international organizations would allow Taiwan to more effectively provide humanitarian assistance to the world, in areas such as education, medical care, environmental protection, and public health.

A consistent goal of the ROC has been the promotion of joint international development through foreign assistance and participation in international humanitarian aid. By forming partnerships with governmental or non-governmental organizations around the world, the Republic of China on Taiwan can help to create a better world.

Dr. Chih-cheng Lo is the chairman of the Research and Planning Board, ROC Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He earned his Ph.D in political science at the University of California, Los Angeles.