It isn’t just the World Health Organization (WHO) documents that refer to Taiwan as a “province of China” – the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) is doing likewise. In UNCTAD’s 2012 World Investment Report, Taiwan is referred to that way on the pages ii, 33, 35, 42, 43, 55, 62, 170, 174, 178, 182, 190, 194, 198, and 202.
It’s nothing new at UNCTAD, however, and seems to have been going on for many years prior to 2008 (unless there have been updates). It would therefore – contrary to more recent trends at the World Health Organization – be no basis for conclusions about president Ma’s performance in creating “space” for Taiwan within the international community.
The way the label keeps showing up throughout this year’s investment document, in every context, seems to bear the characteristics of a religious avowal – if Taiwan’s status wasn’t disputed, the status would go without saying. The searchword combination “taiwan, province of china” with unctad.org as the source site leads to (nominally) some 9,040 search results on Google, while “guangdong, province of china” leads to only five.
In terms of permanent residents or GDP, this would hardly make sense, just as it wouldn’t make a lot of sense to refer to Buckinghamsire as “Buckinghamshire, country of England” all the time.