The Jeju Olle Foundation has a straightforward and simple mission. The South Korean nongovernmental organization (NGO) seeks to maintain long-distance walking trails on the country’s Jeju Island. But the organization had drawn the ire of a Chinese diplomat. At a U.N. meeting in May, the Chinese official claimed the foundation had failed to “use the correct terminology
for Taiwan Province on its website.” This offense spurred Beijing’s U.N. delegation to question the South Korean outfit’s application for U.N. consultative status—a vital civil society advocacy mechanism that, among other things, permits NGOs to participate in U.N. proceedings—during the May 21 session of the U.N. Economic and Social Council’s (ECOSOC) Committee on Nongovernmental Organizations.
The applications of six other NGOs considered on the same day, including the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership and the Women’s Entrepreneurship Day Organization, were also deferred due to similar objections from Beijing—even though there is no U.N. provision that requires NGOs take a stance on the status of Tibet, Taiwan, or any other territories claimed by the People’s Republic of China.
Other organizations, such as the World Yoga Community, have modified their websites to appease Beijing and advance their committee applications, such as by including “Province of China” after “Taiwan” or simply deleting Taiwan’s name. Others, such as the National Committee on American Foreign Policy, have given up on obtaining consultative status altogether.