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Type: Journal article
Title: Friends, enemies or frenemies? China-Taiwan discord in the world health organization and its significance
Author: Tubilewicz, C.
Citation: Pacific Affairs, 2012; 85(4):701-722
Publisher: Pacific Affairs Univ British Columbia
Issue Date: 2012
ISSN: 0030-851X
Statement of
Czeslaw Tubilewicz
Abstract: This article examines the China-Taiwan diplomatic truce through the prism of Taiwan's post-2009 participation in the World Health Organization (WHO). It argues that Taipei's inclusion in the International Health Regulations (IHR) and its observer status at the World Health Assembly (WHA) did not signify a suspension of the cross-Strait dispute over Taipei's capacity to participate in international a airs independently of Beijing. While Taipei ostensibly sought a WHA observership to strengthen Taiwan's health security, it also wished to validate Taiwan's international legal sovereignty. Beijing, for its part, appeared to have compromised its claim over Taiwan's sovereignty by abandoning the diplomatic isolation of Taiwan in international organizations (IGOs), but in practice enforced its sovereign claim by denying Taiwan unrestricted access to activities of the WHO and other IGOs. Thus, China-Taiwan interaction on the WHO issue created a facade of cross-Strait diplomatic détente. The appearance of a cross-Strait truce benefited Beijing by demonstrating China's goodwill towards Taiwan and by highlighting the practical gains ensuing from cooperative cross-Strait relations. It also benefited Taipei by showcasing an improvement in Taiwan's standing in global a airs as a result of the governmental strategy. However, it did not end the China-Taiwan contestations of sovereignty, nor did it transform them into unambiguous friends. Instead, it turned them into “frenemies“: competitive and mistrustful, yet convinced that cooperation-however tenuous or illusory-advanced their (conflicting) objectives more than the bitter enmity of the past decades.
Keywords: China; Taiwan; Sovereignty; Diplomatic Truce; International Organizations; World Health Organization
Rights: © Pacific Affairs
RMID: 0020123491
DOI: 10.5509/2012854701
Appears in Collections:Politics publications

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