One of the things China excels at is misrepresenting the law and punishing the innocent. Still, it came as a surprise when Beijing tried to do this to Taiwan ahead of the annual World Health Assembly (WHA) meeting.
In the WHA invitation letter Taiwan received, both UN Resolution 2758 and WHA Resolution 25.1 were erroneously interpreted and completely misused. The most important thing that must be clarified is that the two resolutions are by no means in line with the “one China” principle, and the reason is simple.
Just look at the time they were adopted: UN Resolution 2758 was adopted in 1971, and WHA Resolution 2501 in 1972, both were well before the idea of “one China” even took shape. Not to mention what the resolutions actually say.
The most important thing we need to know about UN Resolution 2758 is that it acknowledges the People’s Republic of China (PRC) as the only legitimate representative of China to the UN.
This raises the question: What about the Republic of China (ROC)? The resolution clearly states that president Chiang Kai-shek’s (蔣介石) government was unlawfully occupying the PRC’s place at the UN, and his representatives must be expelled.
In a nutshell, the UN decided in 1971 that the ROC ceased to exist in 1949, therefore all the UN seats which previously belonged to the ROC should be held by the PRC.
A year later, based on the UN resolution, the WHO announced that on the advice of its executive committee it had decided to let the PRC take its seat at the WHA and immediately expel Chiang’s representatives from the place that they “unlawfully occupied.”
The two resolutions are consistent in their spirit and tenor: They both deemed Chiang’s place at the UN unlawful and in so doing sentenced the ROC to death.
Throughout the process, there had absolutely been no mention of “one China.”
Beijing’s “one China” principle did not appear until much later, in 2000, when China issued a white paper entitled One China and the Taiwan Problem (一個中國原則與台灣問題), which emphasized that there is only “one China” and Taiwan is part of it, rejecting the US’ proposition in 1954 that the status of Taiwan was yet to be determined.
Another question we must ask is: When did “one China” become a prerequisite for Taiwan to join the WHA?
Research shows that some time before February 2005, China and the WHO Secretariat must have inked an under-the-table memo of understanding acknowledging China as the ruler of Taiwan, giving Beijing the right to decide whether Taiwan can attend the WHA.
By the time the Hong Kong-born Margaret Chan (陳馮富珍) became director-general of the WHO, China took advantage of its status as a third-category observer, blatantly misrepresenting the UN and WHA resolutions by collating its “one China” principle into the resolutions to secure its political interests.
According to news reports, the WHA invitation letter did not enclose the account and password needed for enrollment. Without such information, Taiwan could still be excluded from the WHA.
China’s use of the UN resolution to again call attention the ROC’s nonexistence is not necessarily bad for Taiwan. There is no way a dead thing can be resurrected, and the reason Taiwan has been treated like a dead fish is that it has for too long been trying to pretend to be the dead ROC.
The only solution is to build a new and independent country. This way, Taiwan would be able break free from its manacles, justify its right to join the UN and engage with the international community.
Chin Heng-wei is a political commentator.
Translated by Tu Yu-an
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