A number of Western governments, with the US in the lead, protested to the UN in 2007 to force the global body and its secretary-general to stop using the reference “Taiwan is a part of China,” a cable recently released by WikiLeaks shows.
The confidential cable, sent by the US’ UN mission in New York in August 2007, said that after returning from a trip abroad, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had met then-US ambassador to the UN Zalmay Khalilzad to discuss a range of issues, including “UN language on the status of Taiwan.”
“Ban said he realized he had gone too far in his recent public statements, and confirmed that the UN would no longer use the phrase ‘Taiwan is a part of China,’” said the cable, which was sent to the US Department of State and various US embassies worldwide.
During a meeting with then-California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger on July 27 that year, Ban had defended the UN’s decision not to accept a renewed attempt by Taiwan to join the UN on July 23 by saying that UN General Assembly Resolution 2758 asserted that Taiwan was a part of the People’s Republic of China.
“Membership is given to a sovereign country. The position of the United Nations is that the People’s Republic of China is representing the whole of China as the sole and legitimate representative Government of China,” Ban had said in response to a question on Taiwan’s status. “The decision until now about the wish of the people in Taiwan to join the United Nations has been decided on that basis. The resolution that you just mentioned  is clearly mentioning that the Government of China is the sole and legitimate Government and the position of the United Nations is that Taiwan is part of China.”
The same month, the US was reported to have presented a nine-point demarche in the form of a “non-paper” to the then-UN under-secretary-general for political affairs restating the US view that it took no position on Taiwan’s sovereignty and rejected recent UN statements that the world body considers Taiwan for all intents and purposes to be an integral part of China.
The cable said that the UN missions of Australia, Canada, Japan and New Zealand had also consulted with the UN on the subject, adding that in reaction to the US demarche, the Canadian mission had followed with a demarche of its own and “received the same commitment that the UN would no longer use the phrase.”
It added that Australia had held similar low-level exchanges with the UN’s Office of Legal Affairs (OLA), while the Japanese mission had met OLA Assistant Secretary-General Larry Johnson, who confirmed “that in his most recent correspondence on this matter to the correspondence from the Solomon Islands and Swaziland he had dropped the unhelpful phrase.”
The US’ UN mission also urged New Zealand “to make clear to the UN that they too are monitoring the UN’s terminology and that they share USG [US government] concerns about the need for increased caution during the presidential campaign in Taiwan.”