Recognize this scenario? A small US-allied state declares independence. Its large neighbor, a regional power, objects and conspires to keep it out of the UN, while a bordering nation declares that the newly-independent state’s freedom is illegitimate and it is forever part of its sacred national territory.

The parallels aren’t perfect, but they exist, and Taiwan’s leadership is tracking events as Kosovo declares independence today:

“From today onwards, Kosovo is proud, independent and free,” Prime Minister Hashim Thaci said in an address to parliament.

The move was immediately condemned by Serbia and its ally Russia. But the United States is expected to quickly recognize the new state, as is most of the European Union, in return for an agreement by Kosovo’s leaders to submit to European Union supervision.

Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica said his country, which regards Kosovo as the cradle of its civilization and home to some of its most treasured Orthodox churches and monasteries, would never recognize the unilateral declaration.

“For as long as the Serbian nation exists, Kosovo will remain Serbia,” Kostunica said in a nationally televised address from Belgrade, Serbia’s capital. “We do not recognize the forced creation of a state within our territory.”

Russia appears determined to prevent Kosovo from obtaining U.N. membership and took part in a closed-door emergency session of the U.N. Security Council on Sunday. “We expect the U.N. Mission in Kosovo and NATO-led Kosovo Force to take immediate action to fulfill their mandates . . . including voiding the decisions of the Pristina local government and adopting severe administrative measures against them,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Russia, like China towards Taiwan, opposes this move. The article notes that other European nations which host separatist movements — Spain, for example — are also questioning its wisdom. China too — “deeply concerned” according to Reuters:

China expresses its deep concern about Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said in a statement posted on the government Web site (

“All along China has deemed negotiations between Serbia and Kosovo to reach a mutually acceptable plan as the best way to resolve the Kosovo problem,” the central government said on its Web site (

China was “deeply worried about the grave negative impact” Kosovo’s unilateral declaration would have on the region, it said, adding that the international community should create “positive conditions” for peace and stability.

As the article notes, China faces “separatist” moves in Tibet and Xinjiang. Yes, like those ’separatist’ moves in India during the Raj, in Holland under the Nazis, and Poland under Soviet occupation. It’s bad enough to adopt China’s point of view in reporting stuff — do we have to use its jargon as well (and here too)? Tibet is a state occupied by a foreign power, not some ’separatist’ enclave. Reuters also reports that Taiwan is trying to build relations with Kosovo — which is declaring independence for the second time (the 1991 attempt didn’t stick) — just like Taiwan plans to…

In addition to monitoring how Kosovo manages to get a UN seat despite the fact that Russia has a Security Council veto, Taiwan needs to pay attention to how Kosovo handles its ethnic Serb population, less than 10% of the nation, but passionately opposed to independence and committed to the idea that the new state is part of an existing one. As the Economist notes:

One of the biggest problems now is going to be dealing with Kosovo’s Serbian minority which rejects independence—the leadership of Serbia tell them to ignore independence. They will probably do so. In May, Serbia will vote in local elections. This will be a big test. What would, or could, Kosovo’s authorities do when Serbs hold these polls in other parts of Kosovo? Much will become clear in the next few days. Some of Kosovo’s power comes from Serbia. Will that be cut? Will Serbia close the border to Kosovo-Albanians and anyone doing business with them?

No doubt China will be carefully monitoring how Russia and Serbia handle this issue as well. With NATO troops on the ground in Kosovo (some protecting ethnic Serbs), clearly there are some big differences in how the Powers are handling the latest addition to the international community.