China and the United Nations
|United Nations membership|
1971 (as PRC)
|Permanent Representative||Liu Jieyi|
China is a charter member of the United Nations and one of five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council after winning World War Two.
The Republic of China (ROC) joined the UN in 1945. On October 1, 1949, Mao Zedong declared the establishment of the People's Republic of China (PRC), and the government of the Republic of China relocated to Taipei after losing the Chinese Civil War. The United States and other countries opposed and condemned the admission of the PRC in the UN following the Korean War, and the ROC, now based in Taiwan, with United Nations General Assembly Resolution 505, kept its membership of the UN until October 25, 1971.
Following United Nations General Assembly Resolution 1668 and the disclosure of Henry Kissinger's secret visit to PRC in 1971 in accordance with Article 18 of the UN Charter, the United Nations General Assembly passed the motion of Albania's Resolution 2758 on October 25, 1971, recognizing People's Republic of China is the only lawful representative of China to the United Nations and expelled Republic of China. As a result, the PRC was able to take over ROC's membership in the United Nations. The resolution was supported by most of the communist states including the Soviet Union and Non-Aligned countries such as India, along with some Western European countries including the United Kingdom and France.
The representatives of the PRC first attended the United Nations as representatives of China on October 25, 1971, replacing the ROC. The PRC has instituted the "One-China policy", under which it actively opposes any moves seen to be endorsement of the ROC (or Taiwan) as an independent sovereign state or as a rival "China", although two Chinas effectively exist. The PRC has utilized its position in organizations such as the UN to force Taiwan itself, and many international organizations, to use other names to represent the ROC/Taiwan officially. The most common of these names is "Chinese Taipei", utilized most notably by the International Olympic Committee as the official name of Taiwan's Olympic team. The UN, however, has been pressured by the PRC into referring to Taiwan in official documents as Taiwan, Province of China.
The Republic of China used its Security Council veto only once, to stop the admission of the Mongolian People's Republic to the United Nations in 1955 on the grounds it recognized all of Mongolia as part of China.
As of June 2012[update], the People's Republic of China had used its Security Council veto eight times, fewer than other countries with the veto: in 1972 to veto the admission of Bangladesh (which it recognized as a province of Pakistan), in 1973 (in conjunction with the Soviet Union) to veto a resolution on the ceasefire in the Yom Kippur War, in 1997 to veto ceasefire observers to Guatemala (which recognised the ROC as the legitimate government of China), in 1999 to veto an extension of observers to the Republic of Macedonia (same), in 2007 (in conjunction with Russia) to veto criticizing Myanmar (Burma) on its human rights record, in 2008 (with Russia) to veto sanctions against Zimbabwe, in 2011 (with Russia) to veto sanctions against Syria, and in February 2012 (with Russia) to veto for the second time a draft resolution calling for foreign military intervention in Syria.
The ROC co-founded the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration(UNRRA) in 1943 (prior to the establishment of UN) and is one of four members of its policy-making Central Committee. UNRRA provided supplies and services to areas under occupation by the Axis Powers. The largest project undertaken by UNRRA was the China program which had a total estimated cost of $658.4 million. UNRRA China Office was opened in Shanghai at the end of 1944, and operated until the official termination of the office on December 31, 1947. Final work and responsibilities were finished by March, 1948. UNRRA cooperated with Chinese National Relief and Rehabilitation Administration, led by Jiang Tingfu, to distribute relief supplies in China. UNRRA functions were later transferred to several UN agencies, including the International Refugee Organization and the World Health Organization.
Peng Chun Chang of ROC was the Vice-Chairman of United Nations Commission on Human Rights that drafted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Eleanor Roosevelt, as the driving force behind the Declaration, recalled in her memoirs:
Dr. Chang was a pluralist and held forth in charming fashion on the proposition that there is more than one kind of ultimate reality. The Declaration, he said, should reflect more than simply Western ideas and Dr. Humphrey would have to be eclectic in his approach...at one point Dr. Chang suggested that the Secretariat might well spend a few months studying the fundamentals of Confucianism!
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the UN General Assembly as Resolution 217 A(III) on December 10, 1948, as the result of the experience of the Second World War. ROC was one of the 48 states that voted for it.
On February 1, 1951, after cease fire negotiations failed, United Nations General Assembly passed resolution 498 and called the intervention of the People's Republic of China in Korea an act of aggression.
As of June 2012[update], China had sent 3,362 military personnel to 13 UN peacekeeping operations in its first dispatch of military observers to the United Nations peacekeeping operations since military team to the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The International Criminal Court is a permanent tribunal to prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression. The Court has jurisdiction if a situation is referred to the Court by the United Nations Security Council. As of May 2013, 122 states have ratified or acceded to the Rome Statute that established the Court, but the PRC is not one of them. The PRC, as well its neighbouring rival India, has been critical of the Court.
China ranked 7th among member states for contributing 3.93% of United Nations Peacekeeping operations budget for 2013-2015. United States ranked first by contributing 27.14%.
The 1954 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The Nobel Foundation noted that UNHCR, among other contributions, was asked by UN General Assembly (Resolution 1167 and 1784), in 1957 and again in 1962, to assist Chinese refugees in Hong Kong whose numbers are estimated at over one million. UNHCR assistance was also given to needy refugees among the Chinese refugees in Macao, and the Tibetan refugees in India and Nepal. India hosted some 110,000 Tibetan refugees as of the end of 2001. UNHCR estimates that there are 15,000 Tibetans who arrived in Nepal prior to 1990 and were recognized by the Government as refugees.
Republic of China in the UN (1945-1971)
|United Nations membership|
|Membership||Former full member|
|Dates||October 24, 1945– October 25, 1971|
Republic of China (ROC) was a charter member of the United Nations and one of five permanent members of the Security Council until 1971. Republic of China joined the United Nations as a founding member on October 24, 1945.
The "Big Four" victors of World War II (Republic of China, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States)  were the founding members of the United Nations that drafted the United Nations Charter in 1944, which was ratified on 26 June 1945 by the representatives of 50 countries. China, in recognition of its long-standing fight against aggression, was accorded the honor of being the first to sign UN Charter. President Franklin Roosevelt had acknowledged China's war effort in World War II and stated his desire to allow China to "play its proper role in maintaining peace and prosperity" in the world. Thus, despite opposition from other leaders, especially Winston Churchill, China became a permanent member of the Security Council from its creation in 1945, the same year that the ROC began a military occupation of Formosa and the Pescadores.
In 1949, the Communist Party of China won the Chinese Civil War in mainland China and established the People's Republic of China (PRC), claiming to be the sole legitimate government of China. The ROC government retreated to the island of Taiwan (which it gained control of in 1945 at the end of hostilities in WWII), Quemoy Island, and the Matsu Islands. Until 1991, the ROC also actively claimed to be the sole legitimate government of China, and during the 1950s and 1960s this claim was accepted by the United States and most of its allies. While the PRC was an ally of the Soviet Union, the U.S. sought to prevent the Communist bloc from gaining another permanent seat in the Security Council. To protest the exclusion of the PRC, Soviet representatives boycotted the UN from January to August 1950, so they didn't veto the intervention of UN military forces in Korea.
The ROC complained to the UN against the Soviet Union for violating the Sino-Soviet Treaty of Friendship and Alliance and the United Nations Charter in 1949; as a result, the United Nations General Assembly passed Resolution 291 and 292, referring the complaint "to the Interim Committee of the General Assembly for continuous examination and study". In 1952, the United Nations General Assembly has found that the Soviet Union prevented the National Government of the ROC from re-establishing Chinese authority in Manchuria after Japan surrendered, and gave military and economic aid to the Chinese Communists, who founded the PRC in 1949, against the National Government of the ROC. Resolution 505 was passed to condemn the Soviet Union with 25 countries supporting, 9 countries opposing, 24 countries abstaining, and 2 countries non-voting.
The ROC used its veto only once — on 13 December 1955, to stop the admission of the Mongolian People's Republic to the United Nations, claiming all of Mongolia as part of China. Mongolia's application had been tabled at the UN on 24 June 1946, but had been blocked by Western countries, as part of a protracted Cold War dispute about the admission of new members to the UN. The General Assembly, by Resolution 918 (X) of 8 December 1955, had recommended to the Security Council that this dispute should be ended by the admission, in a single resolution, of a list of eighteen countries. On 14 December 1955, the Security Council adopted a compromise proposed by the Soviet Union, and the General Assembly, by Resolution 995 (X), admitted sixteen countries into UN, omitting Mongolia and Japan from the list. This postponed the admission of Mongolia until 1961, when the Soviet Union agreed to lift its veto on the admission of Mauritania, in return for the admission of Mongolia. Faced with pressure from nearly all the other African countries, the ROC relented under protest. Mongolia and Mauritania were both admitted to the UN on 27 October 1961.
From the 1960s onwards, nations friendly to the PRC, led by the People's Republic of Albania under Enver Hoxha, moved an annual resolution in the General Assembly to expel the "representatives of Chiang Kai-shek" (an implicit reference to the ROC) and permit the PRC to represent China at the UN. Every year the United States was able to assemble a majority of votes to block this resolution. But the admission of newly independent developing nations in the 1960s gradually turned the General Assembly from being Western-dominated to being dominated by countries sympathetic to Beijing.
Not only the newly founded developing countries, but also most of the Western countries eventually decided to recognise the PRC. During the 1950s and 1960s, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Sweden, and France shifted their recognition of China from Taipei to Beijing. In the early 1970s, Canada, Turkey, and more western countries established diplomatic relations with the PRC, and severed diplomatic relations with the ROC. In a Security Council meeting on Feb. 9, 1971, Somalia objected to the credentials of the representative of Republic of China as China representation, and ROC and the United States responded that the question of China's representation should not be dealt with in the Security Council. On October 25, 1971, Resolution 2758 was passed by the General Assembly with 76 countries supporting, 35 countries opposing, 17 countries abstaining, and 3 countries non-voting, withdrawing recognition of the representatives of Chiang Kai-shek as the legitimate representative of China, and recognizing the Government of PRC as the only legitimate representative of China to the United Nations. At a Security Council meeting on November 23, 1971, after the General Assembly passed Resolution 2758, the President of the Council and the other representatives made statements welcoming the representatives of the People's Republic of China. The ROC lost not only its Security Council seat, but any representation in the UN.
Before voting on Resolution 2758, United States moved for a separate vote on the provision in the resolution whereby the Assembly would expel the representatives of ROC, and the motion was defeated by a recorded vote of 61 against to 51 in favor, with 16 abstentions. Thereupon, the representative of ROC made a declaration to the following effect: The rejection of the 22-power draft resolution calling for a two-thirds majority was a flagrant violation of the United Nations Charter which governed the expulsion of Member States. The delegation of the Republic of China had decided not to take part in any further proceedings of the General Assembly.
The Republic of China is no longer represented by a Permanent Representative at the UN. Since 1991, the Republic of China has re-applied for UN membership to represent the people of Taiwan Area and its outlying islands only, under such names as "The Republic of China (Taiwan)", "The Republic of China on Taiwan", "Taiwan (R.O.C)", and most recently (in July 2007, under DPP President Chen Shui-bian) as simply "Taiwan". The ROC has also requested that the UN consider the issue of its representation in other ways, such as granting it status as a "non-member entity" (a position formerly held by Palestine, which has now been recognised by the UN as a "Non-Member State" under the name "State of Palestine"). Because of the opposition of the PRC, which is backed by the majority of UN member-states which follow the One-China policy advocated by the PRC, all such applications have been denied. The ROC continues to call on the international body to grant it standing, claiming the right to represent the 23 million people of Taiwan against the claim of the PRC to represent its de facto territory and Taiwan, or in its related international affiliates (except the World Health Assembly, which the ROC has participated in as an observer under the name Chinese Taipei since 2009 on an "annual-invite basis").
...membership into the UN ultimately needs to be decided by the Member States of the United Nations. 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. 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.
Ban Ki-moon came under fire for this statement from the ROC and, it is speculated, also via non-official channels from the US. The ROC stated that Resolution 2758 merely transferred the UN seat from the ROC to the PRC, but did not address the issue of Taiwan's representation in the UN. The ROC emphasized that the PRC government has never held jurisdiction over Taiwan and that the United Nations has never taken a formal stance regarding the sovereignty of Taiwan. There are unconfirmed reports that Ban's comments prompted the US to restate its position regarding the status of Taiwan. A Heritage Foundation article suggests that the US may have presented a démarche stating among others that:
If the UN Secretariat insists on describing Taiwan as a part of the PRC, or on using nomenclature for Taiwan that implies such status, the United States will be obliged to disassociate itself on a national basis from such position."
The Wall Street Journal has criticized Ban Ki-moon for rejecting the ROC's July 2007 application and regarded Ban's interpretation of Resolution 2758 (that Taiwan was part of China) as erroneous. Nevertheless, Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon's statement reflected long-standing UN convention and is mirrored in other documents promulgated by the United Nations. For example, the UN's "Final Clauses of Multilateral Treaties, Handbook", 2003 (a publication which predated his tenure in Office) states:
[r]egarding the Taiwan Province of China, the Secretary-General follows the General Assembly’s guidance incorporated in resolution 2758 (XXVI)of the General Assembly of 25 October 1971 on the restoration of the lawful rights of the People’s Republic of China in the United Nations. 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. Hence, instruments received from the Taiwan Province of China will not be accepted by the Secretary-General in his capacity as depositary.
A 2013 United States congressional report describes US bipartisan "One China" policy as follows:
The United States has its own "one China" policy (vs. the PRC's "one China" principle) and position on Taiwan's status. Not recognizing the PRC's claim over Taiwan nor Taiwan as a sovereign state, U.S. policy has considered Taiwan's status as unsettled.
Efforts to reintroduce the ROC to the UN
From 1993 to 2008 Taiwan (the Republic of China, ROC) made attempts to rejoin (or, as worded in its proposals, "to participate in") the UN, but because of the implacable opposition of PRC (the People's Republic of China), backed by a majority of UN member states (which adhere to One China policies), UN never adopted the proposals.
The Republic of China still claims to be the government of the whole of China, but does not actively assert the claim. Taiwan independence supporters say that the non-assertion of the claim is mainly due to the PRC having publicly stated that any movement to change the ROC constitution would be seen as a move towards declaring independence, and thus a reason for military action. Given the PRC's attitude, even having the General Assembly admit the ROC or "Taiwan" as an observer, as with Palestine, would be problematic; the case of Palestine is different from that of the ROC because of the UN's commitment to a two-state solution for the Israeli–Palestinian conflict but not for the Taiwan issue.
From 1991 until 2008, the question of the ROC's representation was raised on the UN agenda committee by its diplomatic allies, but always failed to get sufficient votes to get on the formal agenda.
The ROC reapplied for full UN membership on September 18, 2007. On September 15, 2007, over 3,000 Taiwanese Americans and their supporters rallied in front of the UN building in New York City and over 300,000 Taiwanese people rallied in Taiwan, all in support of the ROC's joining the UN. The ROC has also won the backing of many Members of the European Parliament on this issue.
In 2008, two referendums by the ROC to support joining the UN failed because of low voter participation. The United Nations subcommittee on September 17, 2008, once again ruled it would not let the General Assembly consider the ROC's application to join UN activities. Shortly after this, the United States and the European Union both expressed their support for "Taiwan" (neither recognises the ROC) to have "meaningful participation" in UN agencies that do not require statehood, such as the World Health Organization.
From 2009, for the first time in 17 years, the ROC did not submit bids to become a member of the United Nations.
People's Republic of China in the UN (1971-present)
The People's Republic of China (PRC), commonly referred as China, was admitted into the UN in 1971. This was the 21st time there was a vote on the PRC's admittance. The PRC was admitted into the UN on a vote of 76 in favor, 35 opposed, and 17 abstentions. Ever since, People's Republic of China is representing China's seat in the UN. In contrast with Republic of China's tactics to remain in the UN for past years, the PRC sees its ideological differences and national interests above international obligations enshrined by the United Nations as its national agenda to the UN in the subsequent voting records henceforth, especially when military conflicts arise for international intervention on some of world's most oppressive and totalitarian regimes or for United Nations peacekeeping forces to take the duties, the PRC will vote supporting the opposite side of United States or abstaining.
In the 1960s and early 1970s that the United States' close ally, Pakistan, especially under the presidency of Ayub Khan, was carrying out messenger diplomacy to the PRC's entry into the UN by the United States' diplomacy to People's Republic of China in the time of Sino-Soviet split. This involved secret visits by American officials to the PRC. In 1971, Henry Kissinger made a secret visit to the PRC through Pakistan.
Since the early 1980s, and particularly since 1989, by means of vigorous monitoring and the strict maintenance of standards, United Nations human rights organizations have encouraged China to move away from its insistence on the principle of noninterference, to take part in resolutions critical of human rights conditions in other nations, and to accept the applicability to itself of human rights norms and UN procedures. Even though China has continued to suppress political dissidents at home, and appears at times resolutely defiant of outside pressure to reform, Ann Kent argues that it has gradually begun to implement some international human rights standards. On human rights issues, the PRC has been increasingly influential by the bargaining of its robust Macroeconomics growth  for the domestic social equality. In 1995, they won 43 percent of the votes in the General Assembly; by 2006 they won 82 percent.
In the 1991 Gulf War resolution, the PRC abstained, and it voted for the ultimatum to Iraq in the period leading up to the 2003 War in Iraq. Most observers believe that the PRC would have abstained had a resolution authorising force against Iraq in 2003 reached the Security Council.
When an enlargement of the Security Council was discussed in 1995, China encouraged African states to demand their seats as a countermove to Japan's ambitions, thereby nullified the initiative.
- One-China policy
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to China and the United Nations.|
- 1998 Proposal for ROC membership
- 2001 Proposal for ROC membership
- Permanent Mission of the People's Republic of China to the United Nations
- "The UN Issue: MOFA adopts a new strategy of 'Presenting Two proposals'"—from Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs