Taiwan and the UN: A castle in air - Taipei Times
Fri, Oct 13, 2017 - Page 8 News List

Taiwan and the UN: A castle in air

By David Pendery 潘大為

Taiwan, the Republic of China (ROC), has made various efforts to rejoin the UN after it was expelled and China was admitted as the sole government of Chinese people in 1971. At times Taiwan has made formal efforts, seeking the help of allies of the ROC and making official appeals to enter the world body.

At other times, unofficial efforts have been made, with Taiwanese demonstrating at the UN and in other locations. To date, all efforts have been unsuccessful and Taiwan remains outside the UN, although it can participate minimally in a few of its organizations.

It is well known that Taiwan lost its seat in the UN to China in 1971, after a long fight colored by the Cold War and East-West confrontation. At the time, with UN Resolution 2758, the General Assembly decided “to recognize the representatives of [the Government of the People’s Republic of China] as the only legitimate representatives of China to the United Nations” (Taiwan has sought without success to repeal Resolution 2758).

Taiwan was then referred to as a “Province of China,” which is still largely in effect around the world, but many people strongly disagree with this. Demonstrations have taken place in Taiwan, the US and other countries seeking to rectify the situation and “bring Taiwan to the international table.”

The essential question that limits Taiwan’s recognition by other nations and its admission into the UN is whether Taiwan is really a sovereign nation. Taiwan has formal diplomatic relations with only 20 nations, including the Holy See, Taiwan’s only European ally.

Many people think it is long overdue for Taiwan to be readmitted into the UN and such a move would be a just solution that would allow fair representation of Taiwan’s 23 million citizens in world affairs.

The Taiwan United Nations Alliance submitted a letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres recently that said: “Bringing Taiwan into the UN system will … help strengthen peace and stability in the entire Asia-Pacific region and make the UN better represented;” goals that few could argue with.

Some in Taiwan have said that President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) is not doing enough to join the UN.

Indeed, the nation has dropped most of its efforts to formally join the UN with the support of ROC allies. This approach was seen most prominently in former president Chen Shui-bian’s (陳水扁) era, who sought such admission annually and said in an address in 2007 that: “We want to use the name of Taiwan to actively join the international community, join international organizations and join the UN and help Taiwan establish a new identity and status on the world map.”

Although allies, such as Nauru, have spoken on Taiwan’s behalf, the nation is making a minimal concerted effort. There has been talk of a referendum to demonstrate the collective will of the people and announce Taiwan’s sovereignty (this might include changes to the Constitution), but no such referendum has taken place.

Needless to say, China has opposed any such efforts. Beijing’s claim is that Taiwan is not a sovereign nation and that Taiwan “belongs” to China, at the very least as a province, with a small measure of independent power.

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has said: “In 1971, the People’s Republic of China replaced the Republic of China as a member of the UN, thus making Taiwan an international orphan.”

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