On 8 August 2001, the
DPP-government of President Chen Shui-bian announced that it was
re-initiating the campaign for Taiwan to enter the United Nations.
Below, we present an
overview of recent reports, as well as more detailed arguments why
Taiwan should be allowed to take its rightful place among the family
of nations. In the left bar are links to UN campaigns in previous
A progress report
Why Taiwan should join the UN
The establishment of the United Nations in 1945 began a new era in
international relations, and prompted a long series of declarations
of independence in Asia and Africa. Because of a fluke accident of
history -- the occupation of Taiwan by Chiang Kai-shek's armies
fleeing from China -- the Taiwanese people were not able to join the
international family of nations as an independent nation right away.
Over the past five decades, the Taiwanese have, through their hard
work and ingenuity, achieved one of the most prosperous economies of
East Asia, and also brought about a full-fledged democracy.
Some international observers argue that we should not raise the
Taiwan issue, saying that Taiwan's entry into the UN is impossible
because China has a permanent seat in the Security Council and will
block any attempt to let Taiwan join the UN.
We believe that such a position is indefensible and totally
wrong: the world should not let itself be intimidated by
a repressive and dictatorial China. It should stand up for the
principles on which the UN was founded: freedom, democracy, equal
rights and self-determination of peoples.
In particular Western nations, which seem so eager to
trade with China, have the moral obligation to make it clear to
China that its acceptance as a full partner in the international
community hinges on its recognition of Taiwan as a friendly
The UN, a "universal organization" ?
It needs to be emphasized time and again that Taiwan fulfills all
basic requirements of a nation-state: it has a defined territory, a
population of 23 million (greater than that of three quarters of the
UN member nations), and a government which exercises effective
control over the territory and the population.
Why is it important that this de-facto independent country becomes
a member of the UN ? First, because of the original principles of
the UN itself: the world body was founded on the principles
of universality and self-determination. If the UN is to
survive as an institution that safeguards world peace, it is
essential that it adheres to these principles, and apply them to the
case of Taiwan.
A second reason for supporting Taiwan's membership in the UN is
that this further emphasizes that Taiwan's future is an
international issue, to be dealt with by the international
community, and not an "internal problem" for the "Chinese
on both sides of the Taiwan Straits" to decide on. The
responsibility of the international community stems from the San
Francisco Peace Treaty of 1952, which decided that Japan ceded its
sovereignty over Taiwan, and that the future status of Taiwan was to
be decided in due time "in accord with the purposes and
principles of the Charter of the United Nations." Certainly in
those days, this term could have only one meaning: "independence."
A third reason for supporting Taiwan's entry into the UN is that
over the past decade Taiwan has -- due to the hard work of the
democratic opposition and the overseas Taiwanese community -- achieved
a democratic political system, culminating in the election
of President Chen Shui-bian and his DPP-government in March 2000.
This third argument is especially relevant for the United States
and Europe. It would be indefensible, for the West to deny UN
membership to a free and democratic nation, while condoning the
presence of repressive, undemocratic nations such as China, Iraq,
Iran, etc. This would be a flagrant violation of basic democratic
No old rival, but new neighbor
It needs to be emphasized strongly that this new Taiwan is totally
different from the old so-called "Republic of China" which
was kicked out of the United Nations in 1971. Resolution 2758 dealt
with the question who was representing China in the United Nations.
It did not deal with the question of Taiwan's representation, which
is a separate issue, to be dealt with as a follow up on the
decisions of the San Francisco Peace Treaty of 1951-52 (see text of
the Resolution below).
For China, the new Taiwan is thus not the old rival from the days
of the Chinese Civil War on the mainland (a myth perpetuated by the
former Kuomintang authorities for many decades), but a new neighbor,
which wants to live in peace with all its neighbors, including the
big brother across the Straits.
We thus appeal to the rest of the world, and particularly the
United States and Europe, to live up to the principles of
universality and democracy on which the United Nations were founded,
accept Taiwan as a full and equal partner, and recognize it under
the heading of a new "One Taiwan, One China" policy.
A new "One Taiwan, One China" policy would not alter
international recognition of the government in Beijing as the rulers
of mainland China, but it should specifically refer to the
provisions of the San Francisco Peace Treaty of 1952, in which the
members of the United Nations decided that "...the future
status of Taiwan will be decided in accord with the purposes and
principles of the Charter of the United Nations".
As part of this new policy, the international community needs
to express clearly that:
- in accordance with Art. 1.2 of the UN Charter -- it is
the inalienable right of the people of Taiwan to determine their
own future, free from outside coercion,
- the people of Taiwan have a right to membership of
their country in the United Nations under the name "Taiwan",
- it is in China's own interest to accept Taiwan as a
friendly neighbor, end hostilities towards the island, and move
towards peaceful coexistence, instead of perpetuating an old and
anachronistic Civil War. The Taiwanese themselves didn't have
anything to do with that Civil War and their future should not be
held hostage to it.
What does Resolution 2758 say?
Below is the text of UN Resolution 2758. It doesn't say anything
about Taiwan. It merely settled the question which regime was the
legitimate representative of China. Taiwan's status is thus
unaffected, and needs to be resolved on the basis of the principle
of self-determination, as decided at the San Francisco Peace
Conference of 1951-52.
Resolution on Restoring the Rights of the PRC, 25 October, 1971
The General Assembly,
Recalling the Principles of the Charter of the
Considering that the restoration of the lawful
rights of the People's Republic of China is essential both for
the protection of the Charter of the United Nations and for
the cause that the United Nations must serve under the
Recognizing that the representatives of the
Government of the People's Republic of China are the only
lawful representatives of China to the United Nations and that
the People's Republic of China is one of the five permanent
members of the Security Council,
Decides to restore all its rights to the People's
Republic of China and to recognize the representatives of its
government as the only legitimate representatives of China to
the United Nations, and to expel forthwith the representatives
of Chiang Kai-shek from the place which they unlawfully occupy
at the United Nations and in all the organizations related to
Source: 25 Yearbook of the United Nations, 1971, p.
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