China and the United Nations

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People's Republic of China
Flag of the United Nations.svg Flag of the People's Republic of China.svg
United Nations membership
Membership Full member
Since 1945 (1945) (as ROC)
1971 (as PRC)
UNSC seat Permanent
Permanent Representative Liu Jieyi

China was one of the charter members of the United Nations and is one of five permanent members of its Security Council. It has used its veto the least of any of the permanent members.

One of the victorious Allies of the Second World War (locally known as the Second Sino-Japanese War), the Republic of China (ROC) joined the UN at its founding in 1945. The subsequent resumption of the Chinese Civil War led to the establishment of the People's Republic of China (PRC) in 1949. Nearly all of mainland China was soon under its control[a] and the ROC fled to the island of Taiwan. The One-China Policy advocated by both governments precluded dual representation but, amid the Cold and Korean Wars, the United States and its allies opposed the replacement of the ROC at the United Nations, although they were persuaded to pressure the government of the ROC to accept international recognition of Mongolia's independence in 1961. The United Kingdom, France, and other American allies individually shifted their recognitions of China to the PRC and Albania brought annual votes to replace the ROC with the PRC, but these were defeated since—after General Assembly Resolution 1668—a change in recognition required a two-thirds vote.

Amid the Sino-Soviet split and Vietnam War, American President Nixon entered into negotiations with Communist Chairman Mao, initially through a secret 1971 trip undertaken by Henry Kissinger to visit Zhou Enlai. On October 25, 1971, Albania's motion to recognize the People's Republic of China as the sole legal China was passed as General Assembly Resolution 2758. It was supported by most of the communist states (including the Soviet Union) and non-aligned countries (such as India), but also by some American allies such as the UK and France. Nixon then personally visited China the next year, beginning the normalization of Sino-American relations. Since that time, the Republic of China has softened its own One-China Policy and sought international recognition. These moves have been opposed and mostly blocked by the People's Republic of China, forcing the Republic of China to join international organizations under other names. These include "Chinese Taipei" at the International Olympic Committee and "Taiwan, Province of China", at the United Nations.

The Republic of China's most recent request for admission was turned down in 2007,[1] but a number of Western governments—led by the United States—protested to the UN's Office of Legal Affairs to force the global body and its secretary-general to stop using the reference “Taiwan is a part of China”.[2]

Activity[edit]

China was honored for its long struggle on the War of Resistance against Axis Power since Japanese aggression in Northeast China as the first signatory to affix the United Nations Charter on 24 August 1945. Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek was the representative of Republic of China.[3]

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.[4][5][6]

As of June 2012, 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),[7] in 1999 to veto an extension of observers to the Republic of Macedonia (same),[8] in 2007 (in conjunction with Russia) to veto criticizing Myanmar (Burma) on its human rights record,[9] in 2008 (with Russia) to veto sanctions against Zimbabwe,[10] in 2011 (with Russia) to veto sanctions against Syria,[11] and in February 2012 (with Russia) to veto for the second time a draft resolution calling for foreign military intervention in Syria.[12]

The ROC co-founded the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration(UNRRA) in 1943 (prior to the establishment of UN)[13] and is one of four members of its policy-making Central Committee.[14] 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.[15] UNRRA cooperated with Chinese National Relief and Rehabilitation Administration, led by Jiang Tingfu, to distribute relief supplies in China.[16] 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.[17] 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.[18] 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.[19]

As of June 2012, 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.[20]

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%.[21]

The 1954 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).[22] The Nobel Foundation noted that UNHCR, among other contributions, was asked by UN General Assembly (Resolution 1167[23] and 1784[24]), in 1957 and again in 1962, to assist Chinese refugees in Hong Kong[25][26] 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.[22] India hosted some 110,000 Tibetan refugees as of the end of 2001.[27] UNHCR estimates that there are 15,000 Tibetans who arrived in Nepal prior to 1990 and were recognized by the Government as refugees.[28]

History[edit]

Republic of China in the UN (1945–1971)[edit]

Republic of China
Flag of the United Nations.svg Flag of the Republic of China.svg
United Nations membership
Membership Former full member
Dates October 24, 1945 (1945-10-24) – October 25, 1971 (1971-10-25)
UNSC seat Permanent
Permanent Representatives

The 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) [29] 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.[30] China, in recognition of its long-standing fight against aggression, was accorded the honor of being the first to sign UN Charter.[3] 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.[31] Thus, despite opposition from other leaders, especially Winston Churchill,[32] China became a permanent member of the Security Council from its creation in 1945.

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".[33] 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 resolution also affirmed the ROC as the "Central Government of China".[34][35]

The ROC used its veto only once. Recognition of the Soviets' violation of their friendship treaty abrogated its recognition of Mongolia's independence. It therefore vetoed its admission into the United Nations on 13 December 1955, claiming it—as Outer Mongolia—to be an integral part of China.[4][5][6] 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.[36][37] 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.[38] The same year, United Nations General Assembly Resolution 1668 made China's representation an "important question" requiring a two-thirds majority vote to alter.

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 enough votes to block this resolution. Both sides rejected compromise proposals to allow both states to participate in the UN, based on the One-China policy.[39]

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 9 February 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.[40][41]

Seeking to place more diplomatic pressure on the Soviet Union, American president Richard Nixon sent his national security advisor Henry Kissinger on two trips to the People's Republic of China in July and October 1971 (the first of which was made in secret via Pakistan) to confer with Premier Zhou Enlai, then in charge of Chinese foreign policy.[42][43][44] His trips paved the way for the groundbreaking 1972 summit between Nixon, Zhou, and Communist Party of China Chairman Mao Zedong, as well as the formalization of relations between the two countries, ending 23 years of diplomatic isolation and mutual hostility in favor of a tacit strategic anti-Soviet alliance between China and the United States.

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.

Saudi Arabia submitted a proposition allowing the ROC to retain its seat at the UN and its affiliated organizations "until the people of the Island of Taiwan are enabled by a referendum or a plebiscite" under the auspices of the UN to choose among three options: continued independence as a sovereign state with a neutral status defined by a treaty recorded by the UN; a confederation with the PRC; or a federation with the PRC,[45] but was not supported by the United States.[46]

On 25 October 1971, the United States moved that a separate vote be taken on the provisions in the resolution "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 ROC made a declaration that 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 and that the delegation of the Republic of China had decided not to take part in any further proceedings of the General Assembly.[40] With the support from 26 African UN Member States[47] and in accordance with Article 18 of the UN Charter,[48] the Assembly then adopted Resolution 2758, 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.[49][50] 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.[40]

Efforts to reintroduce the ROC to the UN[edit]

Taiwanese banner about the ROC's exclusion from the UN

Following the adoption of Resolution 2758, the Republic of China was no longer represented by a Permanent Representative at the UN. In addition to losing its seat in the UN, the UN Secretary-General concluded from the resolution that the General Assembly considered Taiwan to be a province of China, and thus it does not permit the ROC to become a party treaties for which it is the depository.[51]

In 1993 the ROC began campaigning to rejoin the UN separately from the People's Republic of China. A number of options were considered, including seeking membership in the specialized agencies, applying for observer status, applying for full membership, or having resolution 2758 revoked to reclaim the seat of China in the UN.[52]

Every year from 1993-2006, UN member states submitted a memorandum to the UN Secretary-General requesting that the UN General Assembly consider allowing the ROC to resume participating in the United Nations.[53] This approach was chosen, rather than a formal application for membership, because it could be enacted by the General Assembly, while a membership application would need Security Council approval, where the PRC held a veto.[52] Early proposals recommended admitting the ROC with parallel representation over China, along with the People's Republic of China, pending eventual reunification, citing examples of other divided countries which had become separate UN member states, such as East and West Germany and North and South Korea. Later proposals emphasized that the ROC was a separate state, over which the PROC had no effective sovereignty. These proposed resolutions referred to the ROC under a variety of names: "Republic of China in Taiwan" (1993-94), "Republic of China on Taiwan" (1995-97, 1999-2002), "Republic of China" (1998), "Republic of China (Taiwan)" (2003) and "Taiwan" (2004-06).

However, all fourteen attempts were unsuccessful as the General Assembly's General Committee declined to put the issue on the Assembly's agenda for debate, under strong opposition from the PRC.[54]

While all these proposals were vague, requesting the ROC be allowed to participate in UN activities without specifying any legal mechanism, in 2007 the ROC submitted a formal application under the name "Taiwan" for full membership in the UN.[55] On September 15, 2007, over 3,000 Taiwanese Americans and their supporters rallied in front of the UN building in New York City,[56] and over 300,000 Taiwanese people rallied in Taiwan,[57] all in support of the ROC joining the UN. The ROC also won the backing of many Members of the European Parliament on this issue.[58] However, the application was rejected by the United Nations Office of Legal Affairs citing General Assembly Resolution 2758,[59] without being forwarded to the Security Council. Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon stated that:

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 (General Assembly Resolution 2758) 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.[60]

Responding to the UN's rejection of its application, the ROC government has stated that Taiwan is not now nor has it ever been under the jurisdiction of the PRC, and that since General Assembly Resolution 2758 did not clarify the issue of Taiwan's representation in the UN, it does not prevent Taiwan's participation in the UN as an independent sovereign nation.[61] The ROC argued 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 government also criticized Ban for asserting that Taiwan is part of China and returning the application without passing it to the Security Council or the General Assembly,[62] contrary to UN's standard procedure (Provisional Rules of Procedure of the Security Council, Chapter X, Rule 59).[63] The ROC emphasized that the United Nations has never taken a formal stance regarding the sovereignty of Taiwan. On the other hand, the PRC government, which has stated that Taiwan is part of China and firmly opposes the application of any Taiwan authorities to join the UN either as a member or an observer, praised that UN's decision "was made in accordance with the UN Charter and Resolution 2758 of the UN General Assembly, and showed the UN and its member states' universal adherence to the one-China principle".[64] A group of UN member states put forward a draft resolution for that fall's UN General Assembly calling on the Security Council to consider the application.[55]

Ban Ki-moon also came under fire for this statement from the United States via non-official channels. 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."[65]

The Wall Street Journal 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.[66] 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.[67]

In 2008, two referendums by the ROC on joining the UN failed because of low voter participation. That fall the ROC took a new approach, with its allies submitting a resolution requesting that the "Republic of China (Taiwan)" be allowed to have "meaningful participation" in the UN specialized agencies.[68] Again the issue was not put on the Assembly's agenda when the United Nations subcommittee ruled it would not let the General Assembly consider the ROC's application to join UN activities.[54][69] 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.[70] In May 2009, the Department of Health of the Republic of China was invited by the World Health Organization to attend the 62nd World Health Assembly as an observer under the name "Chinese Taipei". This was the ROC's first participation in an event organized by a UN-affiliated agency since 1971, as a result of the improved cross-strait relations since Ma Ying-jeou became the President of the Republic of China a year before.[71]

In 2009, the ROC chose not to bring the issue of its participation in the UN up for debate at the General Assembly for the first time since it began the campaign in 1993.[72][73]

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.[74]

The Constitution of the Republic of China still claims to be the government of the whole of China. Taiwan independence supporters say that the non-assertion of the claim is mainly due to PRC's public statement that any attempts to change the ROC constitution is interpreted as declaring independence, which will lead to "military actions" from the PRC.[citation needed] 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.

People's Republic of China in the UN (1971–present)[edit]

An image of the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 2758 (25 October 1971), which transferred the seat of China from the ROC to the PRC. It refers to "restor[ing] all its rights to the People's Republic of China" and recognizing it as the "only legitimate representatives of China to the United Nations", while expelling "the representatives of Chiang Kai-shek" (i.e. the ROC government).
Voting situation in the UN general assembly respect to resolution 2758 (1971).

The People's Republic of China (PRC), commonly called China today, was admitted into the UN in 1971 on the 21st time of voting on its application. The PRC was admitted into the UN on a vote of 76 in favor, 35 opposed, and 17 abstentions.[75] 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 of America or abstaining.[76][77][not in citation given]

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.[citation needed]

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.[78] On human rights issues, the PRC has been increasingly influential by the bargaining of its robust Macroeconomics growth[79] for the domestic social equality.[80] In 1995, they won 43 percent of the votes in the General Assembly; by 2006 they won 82 percent.[81]

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 authorizing force against Iraq in 2003 reached the Security Council.[82][83]

When an enlargement of the Security Council was discussed in 1995, China encouraged African states to demand their seats as a counter-move to Japan's ambitions, thereby nullified the Japanese initiative.[81]

See also[edit]

Note[edit]

References[edit]

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