Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) has recently been tampering with the invitations for this year’s World Health Assembly (WHA). Taiwan’s letter of invitation from the WHA made reference to UN Resolution 2758 — which, passed in 1971, recognized the People’s Republic of China (PRC) as “the only legitimate representative of China to the United Nations.” The letter also deliberately misrepresents the “one China” principle. Xi is using the WHA to try to place Taiwan in a strait-jacket. If former Chinese prime minister Zhou Enlai (周恩來) were still alive, he would certainly castigate Xi and his fellow “princeling” hangers-on for their unforgivable ignorance.
At the time, Zhou opposed — but was not overly worried about — the UN’s offer of dual representation for the Republic of China (ROC) and the PRC at the UN. This is because China would only need to refuse to attend, and, after a period of two years, Chiang Kai-shek’s (蔣介石) representatives to the UN would be ejected. Zhou was more concerned that Resolution 2758 would afford Taiwan the means to exist independently of China.
Zhou believed that the wording of Resolution 2758 was insufficient, since it only sought to clarify the legitimate representative authority of China. Zhou believed the resolution should go further than this and expel Chiang’s representatives from the UN, thereby restoring the PRC as the legal representative of China. Furthermore, Zhou felt that the resolution did not resolve the issue of the return of the “sovereign territory” of Taiwan to China, or of Taiwan’s future.
Therefore, should Taiwan apply to become a member of the UN, there would be no problem over membership since there would no longer be an issue over which governing authority represents China. Zhou was a far more shrewd and ruthless political operator than Xi and his contemporaries. Zhou understood that the question of the legal status of Taiwan was far from settled. He also knew that Resolution 2758 simply confirmed which governing body represented China, and that it contained a gaping hole which would prevent China from tying down Taiwan.
Zhou’s heartfelt confession to then US national security adviser Henry Kissinger is well documented. Then-Saudi Arabian ambassador to the UN Jamil Baroody proposed resolution L-638, which advocates “one China, one Taiwan” and that Taiwan’s membership in the UN should be decided later through a referendum in Taiwan. The proposed resolution cites Resolution 2758 as proof that the UN never settled the matter of which country Taiwan belongs to, nor Taiwan’s future membership status.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon thought himself rather clever when in July 2007 he rejected Taiwan’s UN membership application by linking Resolution 2758 to the “one China” principle. At the time, the US and Taiwan’s other allies separately expressed their objections to Ban’s interpretation of the resolution. The WHA invitation is simply the latest example of an international body conflating Resolution 2758 with the “one China” principle.
If, when Resolution 2758 was passed, it really had defined Taiwan as belonging to “one China,” then Xi and his lackeys at the UN would not need to waste so much time and energy cooking-up the so-called “1992 consensus” and then bullying Taiwan to accept it.
Forty-five years have passed since Chiang’s representatives to the UN disappeared in a puff of smoke. Taiwan has just independently chosen its new government, and the public has voted for a democratic country that has nothing whatsoever to do with China.
James Wang is a media commentator.
Translated by Edward Jones
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