The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) recently held a press conference to unveil an action plan with four pillars regarding UN Resolution 2758. The plan is significant due to its comprehensive nature and is indicative of a shift in tactical strategy.
While the plan serves its traditional purpose by clarifying that the resolution does not affect Taiwan’s status, it also highlights a new issue: Republic of China (ROC) citizens have been stripped of their right to visit and report on the UN. This situation goes against the values of human rights and equality that the UN upholds.
Coincidentally, the US Congress passed the Taiwan International Solidarity Act (TISA), aligning with MOFA’s demands and providing a timely boost for proactive and bold planning. These new developments require the international community’s attention to recognize the harm Resolution 2758 has caused Taiwanese and universal values under China’s distorted interpretation from a macro and micro perspective.
Looking back to 1971, there was a global debate on whether Taipei or Beijing should be recognized as the representative of China. When the US chose to side with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) against the Soviet Union and then-US national security advisor Henry Kissinger made his crucial visit to China, the discussion surrounding the ROC’s participation in the UN took a different turn.
However, the UN did not address the issue of “dual representation,” which would have allowed Taipei and Beijing to coexist in the organization. Unlike East and West Germany joining in 1974 or North and South Korea joining in 1991, the issue of the ROC and the PRC remains unresolved.
Two significant aspects of Resolution 2758 should be considered. First, the resolution was established for a particular time and place, and is now outdated.
Second, it never addressed Taiwan’s status. The purpose of Resolution 2758 was to remove the claim to represent China made by the “Chiang Kai-shek regime,” a regime that imposed martial law and was authoritarian in nature.
Today, Taiwan is a recognized democracy and is known internationally by the name Taiwan. This is a matter of international law and not subject to arbitrary interpretation by the Chinese Communist Party in the UN.
Previously, governments around the world, including the US, have taken a somewhat reserved approach to the question of whether Resolution 2758 applies to Taiwan’s status.
For example, in 2007, when then-president Chen Shui-bian’s (陳水扁) administration sought Taiwan’s membership in the UN, then-UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon rejected Taiwan’s application by inaccurately citing Resolution 2758.
At that time, the US had made a “non-paper” protest to the UN, saying that the resolution “does not in fact establish that Taiwan is a province of the PRC... There is no mention in Resolution 2758 of China’s claim of sovereignty over Taiwan.”
Australia, Canada, Japan and New Zealand also expressed their dissatisfaction, leading to Ban’s commitment to not use the resolution to handle Taiwan’s status in the future.
Currently, the US Congress is willing to openly discuss this issue and explicitly states in the TISA that Resolution 2758 does not involve Taiwan’s sovereignty or China’s assertion of sovereignty over Taiwan.
In 2021, Rick Waters, deputy assistant secretary in the US Department of State’s Bureau of East Asia and Pacific Affairs, officially stated that China was misusing Resolution 2758 to interpret Taiwan’s status.
A recent parliamentary report published by the UK’s Foreign Affairs Select Committee also formally stated that “Taiwan is already an independent country, under the name ‘Republic of China.’”
These developments indicate a clear shift in opinion, with the US and the UK willing to make a declaration on this sensitive issue by openly stating that Resolution 2758 has been inaccurately interpreted regarding Taiwan’s status.
Taking advantage of this momentum, MOFA has strategically addressed this issue from a macro perspective as its first priority. On a micro level, MOFA has raised concerns about ROC citizens being denied entry to the UN and how China is using its influence to intimidate Taiwan.
Resolution 2758 was passed in 1971, and for more than 40 years, Taiwanese travelers were able to enter the UN using passports issued by MOFA. The UN warmly welcomed hundreds of thousands of visitors each year during this time.
However, in the past three years, the UN has been strictly enforcing regulations that require Taiwanese, including reporters, to obtain a PRC-issued Taiwan Compatriot Permit in addition to their passport. This policy change has resulted in clear discrimination against Taiwanese nationals and is a violation of press freedom for Taiwanese journalists, both of which contradict the core values upheld by the UN.
However, the true message that Taiwan’s ministry wants to convey to the international audience lies beneath the surface, implying a deeper and more serious issue.
The exclusion of Taiwan from the UN is believed to be influenced by China’s sway over the organization. China’s increasing presence within the UN has caught the attention of US think tanks. According to an opinion piece by Paula Dobriansky and Daniel Runde, the number of Chinese citizens employed by the UN has increased by more than 68 percent in recent years, surpassing 1,300.
China has also secured its position in several important UN organizations, including the UN International Civil Aviation Organization, UN Food and Agriculture Organization, UN International Telecommunication Union and the UN Industrial Development Organization — despite the US being the largest donor to the UN. This has led to an attempt to control policy formulation and budget allocation.
Other countries have not responded significantly as China’s mistreatment of Taiwan does not immediately affect the interests of other nations. However, it undermines the UN’s reputation and violates the rights of 23 million Taiwanese.
In his 1974 speech at the UN, then-Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping (鄧小平) declared that China would not aim to dominate other countries.
However, China’s recent actions within the UN have been seen as intimidating Taiwan and behaving in a way that suggests a desire for hegemony.
It is crucial for the international community to take a united and firm stance against this behavior. We must safeguard the rights of Taiwanese citizens within the UN and reject any efforts by China to distort Resolution 2758. Failure to do so could provide China with a pretext to wage a war against Taiwan, rendering the recent G7 declaration on peace in the Taiwan Strait meaningless.
If Beijing denies the legitimacy of the rules-based order, it could escalate conflict across the Strait. Therefore, at this critical juncture, MOFA is appealing not only for Taiwan’s future but also for peace in the region and the global economy, in a professional yet approachable tone.
Lin Tzu-yao lives in Kaohsiung and holds a master’s degree from National Taiwan University’s Graduate Institute of National Development, majoring in Chinese studies and cross-strait relations. Cathy Fang is a master of arts student in the international affairs program at George Washington University. She previously served as a legislative assistant in the Legislative Yuan.
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