United Nations General Assembly Resolution 2758
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The United Nations General Assembly Resolution 2758 was passed in response to the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 1668 that required any change in China's representation in the UN be determined by a two-thirds vote. The resolution, passed in October 25, 1971, recognized the People's Republic of China (PRC) as "the only legitimate representative of China to the United Nations" and expelled "the representatives of Chiang Kai-shek from the place which they unlawfully occupy at the United Nations." This move effectively ended the Republic of China's full membership at the United Nations and remains a point of contention on the political status of Taiwan.
The close of fighting in World War II in the Pacific in 1945 saw the Republic of China government, represented by its governing party, the Kuomintang (KMT, Chinese Nationalist Party), having jurisdiction over mainland China and Taiwan. Four years later, the Chinese Civil War resulted in the Communists in control of mainland China and the Nationalists in control of Taiwan. The Communists declared the People's Republic of China (PRC) as the successor state of the Republic of China (ROC), while the Nationalists championed the continued existence of the Republic of China as the sole legitimate Chinese government. In the context of the Cold War, both sides claimed to be the only legitimate Chinese government, and each side refused to maintain diplomatic relations with countries that officially recognized the other side.
The original Members of the United Nations shall be the states which, having participated in the United Nations Conference on International Organization at San Francisco, or having previously signed the Declaration by United Nations of 1 January 1942, sign the present Charter and ratify it in accordance with Article 110.
Additionally, the Republic of China had signed and ratified the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations on April 18, 1961 and December 19, 1969 respectively.
On 15 July 1971, 17 UN members requested that a question of the "Restoration of the lawful rights of the People's Republic of China in the United Nations" be placed on the provisional agenda of the twenty-sixth session of the UN General Assembly, claiming that the PRC, a "founding member of the United Nations and a permanent member of the Security Council, had since 1949 been refused by systematic maneuvers the right to occupy the seat to which it is entitled ipso jure".
On 25 September 1971, a draft resolution, A/L.630 and Add.l and 2, was submitted by 23 states including 17 of the states which had joined in placing the question on the agenda, to "restore to the People's Republic of China all its rights and expel forthwith the representatives of Chiang Kai-shek."
On 29 September 1971, another draft resolution, A/L.632 and Add.l and 2, sponsored by 22 members, was proposed declaring that any proposal to deprive the Republic of China of representation was an important question under Article 18 of the UN Charter, and thus would require a two-thirds supermajority for approval. A/L.632 and Add.l and 2 was rejected on 25 October 1971 by a vote of 59 to 55, with 15 abstentions.
On 25 October 1971, the United States moved that a separate vote be taken on the words "and to expel forthwith the representatives of Chiang Kai-shek from the place which they unlawfully occupied at the United Nations and in all the organizations related to it" in the draft resolution. This motion would have allowed the PRC to join the UN as "China's representative",[clarification needed] while allowing the ROC to remain a regular UN member (if there had been enough votes for it). The motion was rejected by a vote of 61 to 51, with 16 abstentions. The representative of the Republic of China stated that the rejection of draft resolution A/L.632 and Add. l and 2 calling for a two-thirds majority was a flagrant violation of the Charter which governed the expulsion of Member States and that the delegation of the Republic of China had decided not to take part in any further proceedings of the General Assembly. The Assembly then adopted draft resolution A/L. 630 and Add.l and 2, by a roll-call vote of 76 to 35, with 17 abstentions, as Resolution 2758. The important question motion failed and the Albanian motion then came to the floor and passed. ROC ambassador to the UN, Liu Chieh, then withdrew and after that the PRC ambassador to the UN, Qiao Guanhua and the delegation entered the hall. According to the One China policy, the ROC is no longer represented in the UN and the UN recognizes the PRC as the legal government of China.
In the UN Charter, the ROC, like the USSR, is still listed, but it does not mean that the legality of the Resolution 2758 is under question, because the PRC, like Russia, was deemed a successor state, and thus an original member.
On 23 July 2007, the UN rejected Taiwan's membership bid to “join the UN under the name of Taiwan”, citing Resolution 2758 as acknowledging that Taiwan is part of China. Since Resolution 2758 makes no mention of Taiwan, Ban Ki-moon's interpretation to this effect came under fire from the American media ("King of the UN," Wall Street Journal). An unconfirmed report by the Heritage Foundation also suggests that the US government objected to the Secretary-General's statement. The US did not make any public pronouncement on the matter. Nevertheless, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's statement reflected long-standing UN policy 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:
...regarding 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.
Some viewpoints assert that Resolution 2758 has solved the issue of "China's representation" in the United Nations, but left the issue of Taiwan's representation unresolved in a practical sense. The ROC government continues to hold control over Taiwan and other islands. While the PRC claims sovereignty over all of China and claims that Taiwan is part of China, it does not exercise sovereignty over Taiwan, and has never done so. The ROC government claimed sovereignty over the Chinese Mainland until recently[when?] but its present policy seeks to represent the area it controls in diplomatic matters. The ROC's legal status in contemporary times somewhat mirrors that of the PRC pre-1971.
On the other hand, although policy has changed, and the ROC Government now focuses on representing the interests of the island of Taiwan, formally, the ROC still claims to be the Chinese State, and thus its juridical claim to the right to govern the whole of China still holds. Most importantly, although Taiwan has been governed by the ROC as a de facto separate country, de jure Taiwan is still a part of China, as Taiwan has never declared its independence. Indeed, the pursuit of independence from China is a controversial issue in Taiwanese politics. Thus, China being still legally one single country including the Mainland and Taiwan, the question facing the General Assembly was that of deciding which is the legitimate Government of China: the Government controlling the whole of the Mainland, or the Government deposed from the Mainland and in control of an archipelago only. From the assumption of power by the Communists and the proclamation of the PRC until 1971, the ROC Government remained the representative of China before the UN, although it had lost almost all of the territory. With the Resolution, the UN simply recognized the PRC as the legitimate Chinese Government, that from 1949 until 1971, had been deprived of its right of representing China.
The ROC, however, frames the issue as one involving "the expulsion of a member". The Resolution has been criticized as illegal by the Republic of China government, since expulsion of a member requires the recommendation of the Security Council and can only occur if a nation "has persistently violated the Principles contained in the present Charter," according to Article 6.
The Government Information Office of the Republic of China asserts:
So flawed is this Resolution that only its effective repeal by the General Assembly can provide any hope of expunging the stain on the U.N.’s escutcheon in the international system. Taiwan partially adopted this strategy, and attempted to begin a debate on the repeal of Resolution 2758 during the Fifty-Second General Assembly. Although turned aside in 1997 by the P.R.C.’s energetic diplomatic lobbying, the issue of the R.O.C.’s status at the U.N. will not disappear.
Under its independence-leaning president, Chen Shui-ban, Taiwan attempted to apply for membership under the name "Taiwan", saying, "as to its return to the United Nations, the Government has made it clear that it no longer claims to represent all of China, but that it seeks representation only for its 21.8 million people". However, the current ROC administration under Ma Ying-jeou has dropped attempts to join UN as a new member state.
- United Nations General Assembly Resolution 2758 session 26 Restoration of the lawful rights of the People's Republic of China in the United Nations page 1 on 25 October 1971
- News.bbc.co.uk 2007
- Wall Street Journal Commentary, August 13, 2007
- "Final Clauses of Multilateral Treaties, Handbook", United Nations, 2003
- New Directions for the Chen Administration on Taiwanese Representation in the United Nations. July 1, 2000. American Enterprise Institute. URL Accessed June 26, 2006
- United Nations General Assembly Document 145 session 53 Request for the inclusion of an item in the provisional agenda of the fifty-third session - Need to review General Assembly resolution 2758 (XXVI) of 25 October 1971 owing to the fundamental change in the international situation and to the coexistence of two Governments across the Taiwan Strait on 8 July 1998