OPINION: Interpol Must Let Taiwan Join Its 87th General Assembly

OPINION: Interpol Must Let Taiwan Join Its 87th General Assembly
Credit: Reuters / Jason Lee
Why you need to know

Taiwan wants to obtain observer status at Interpol's General Assembly, set to be held from Nov. 18 to 21.

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The 87th Interpol General Assembly is scheduled to be held at the Dubai World Trade Center in the United Arab Emirates from Nov. 18 to 21.

Interpol is the world’s largest international police organization, enabling police around the world to work together to make the world a safer place. Police chiefs and other senior law enforcement officials will gather at the event to discuss a range of policing and security issues including foreign terrorist fighters and cybercrime.

However, among the 192 member nations of the Interpol, Taiwan is absent, despite the fact that the island is a net contributor to international law enforcement.

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Credit: Reuters / Jason Lee
Flags of China and Interpol are pictured during the 86th Interpol General Assembly in Beijing, China Sep. 27, 2017.

Despite being a major U.S. trade partner, Taiwan has to rely on delayed, second-hand information about international criminals and global criminal activities. This makes Taiwan needlessly vulnerable to criminality. The increasing global threat of terrorist attacks requires a more efficient system for sharing information within a network of countries.

Taiwan has a great deal to offer the international community in a vast number of areas. Its prolonged exclusion from Interpol serves neither its interests nor those of the global community. Taiwan should be permitted access to Interpol’s network so that it can both contribute to and benefit from what would be a more comprehensive fight against international criminals across the globe.

With the rise of terrorism across the globe, not allowing Taiwan independent and easy access to Interpol is an unnecessary and dangerous risk.

Taiwan currently relies on the U.S. and other countries to informally pass along Interpol information on relevant criminal activity. Granting Taiwan observer status would promote stability and security in the Asia-Pacific region and assist Taiwan in protecting the safety of its citizens by combating criminal activity through access to Interpol’s global police communications systems. The continuous exclusion of Taiwan from Interpol runs counter to global efforts to combat terrorism.

Taiwan has the right and responsibility as a member of the global community to participate in and contribute to international organizations. Taiwan’s inclusion in appropriate international organizations is important for Taiwan, important for the United States, and important for the entire international community. Regaining access to Interpol's law enforcement infrastructure will ensure that Taiwan can quickly obtain, and share, the latest intelligence on criminals and global criminal activities. That improves the safety and security of everyone.

Since Taiwan’s participation in international organizations hinges on China’s amity, it is extremely important that Chinese authorities make a friendly gesture and not use any political maneuvers to deny Taiwan to participate in international organizations.

At the same time, the United States must show more convincing support for Taiwan’s participation in Interpol. After all, Taiwan’s attempts have been moderate and reasonable, but China does not have much incentive to budge if there is not a certain level of U.S. pressure. Moreover, the United States remains Taiwan’s best friend and its actions set the benchmark for the level of support of others. A supportive U.S. stance has the potential to push China to emulate U.S. policy and would have a wide sphere of influence in Beijing.

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Credit: Reuters / Lintao Zhang / Pool
Chinese President Xi Jinping speaks during the 86th Interpol General Assembly on Sep. 26, 2017 in Beijing, China.

In the wake of growing international crime, including telecom fraud and drug smuggling, Taiwan is hoping to take part in cross-border police cooperation, and to make the country and the world a safer place. Taiwan has successfully cooperated with other countries to combat regional fraud and drug trafficking. As part of Interpol, Taiwan could do even more.

As a responsible member of the international community, Taiwan is ready, willing and able to play a vital part in the global initiative to thwart acts of terrorism and crime against humanity. The United States must voice its support for Taiwan's "meaningful" participation in Interpol to enable the seamless flow of information between international police agencies and effectiveness of coordinated cross-border actions.

It is time Taiwan be allowed to join the 87th Interpol General Assembly.

Read Next: An Open Appeal to the UN: Please Do Not Leave the Taiwanese Behind

Editor: Nick Aspinwall (@Nick1Aspinwall)

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