Since Communists conquered mainland China in 1949, the Republic of China on Taiwan and Communist China have taken sharply different paths.
By promoting individual liberty and property rights, Taiwan has become an economic and technological dynamo. Though it's not very large - it's considerably smaller than Tennessee - Taiwan is a wealthy country.
In contrast, Communist China's suppression of its citizens' rights has kept it far poorer. Some limited free-market reforms have produced economic growth in China in recent years, but it still lags behind Taiwan in measures such as per-capita income and quality of life.
In short, the contrast between free Taiwan and Communist China - like the contrast between free South Korea and Communist North Korea - is stark.
Yet in part because of national pride and in part because it covets Taiwan's wealth, mainland China has long declared that Taiwan is part of its territory. Taiwan, which has its own government and military, and is otherwise clearly separate from China, naturally rejects the suggestion that it is nothing more than an extension of Communist China.
So it was disgusting to learn recently that the World Health Organization, a branch of the U.N., has designated Taiwan a mere province of Communist China. WHO circulated a document that essentially demoted Taiwan to provincial status.
That understandably prompted a protest from Taiwan's president, who said that China had pressured WHO to label Taiwan a Chinese possession.
We hope that one day the people of Communist China will be as free as the people of Taiwan. But even if the U.N. - along with the United States, unfortunately - will not give full diplomatic recognition to Taiwan, the U.N. is wrong in suggesting that democratic Taiwan is merely a Chinese province.