Oct. 25, 1971 | People’s Republic of China In, Taiwan Out, at U.N.

Library of CongressChiang Kai-shek, president of the Republic of China, represented China in the United Nations until the communist People’s Republic of China assumed that role on Oct. 25, 1971.
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On Oct. 25, 1971, the United Nations General Assembly voted to admit the People’s Republic of China (mainland China) and to expel the Republic of China (Taiwan). The Communist P.R.C. therefore assumed the R.O.C.’s place in the General Assembly as well as its place as one of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council.

The New York Times, in the Oct. 27 edition, described the reaction at the United Nations: “After the tension and drama of last night, today was spent in efforts at reconciliation and in political introspection and analysis.” It also noted, “Secretary General Thant appealed to all members to ‘endorse the tremendous step forward’ represented by Peking’s admission and to set aside suspicion and bitterness.”

The Republic of China had been a member of the United Nations from the organization’s formation in 1945, at which time it still governed all of China. However, in 1949, the R.O.C. government was expelled from the mainland by the Communist Party, the founders of the People’s Republic of China.

Though the R.O.C. only continued to control the island of Taiwan after its expulsion from the mainland, it still considered itself the one true government of China. This view was supported by the Western powers in allowing the R.O.C. to remain China’s representative in the United Nations. Their main motive? They wanted to prevent another Communist government from gaining a place in the Security Council.

By 1971, however, the People’s Republic had gained enough international support for the U.N. General Assembly to pass the resolution declaring that it, and not the R.O.C., was the rightful representative of China. The resolution specified that it was a “restoration of the lawful rights” to the P.R.C., indicating that the country had been denied its rightful seat since 1949.

The United States, the most significant opponent of the resolution, then argued for the P.R.C. to be admitted separately from the R.O.C., which would have allowed the R.O.C. to retain its spot. The proposal was defeated.

Connect to Today:

The Republic of China, which has largely relinquished its claim to mainland China, has continued to fight for a place in the United Nations. Over the years, it has applied to the U.N. under the name “The Republic of China (Taiwan)” and “The Republic of China on Taiwan,” but the applications have been denied. The U.S. supports a “one China” policy, which maintains that, though the People’s Republic does not hold sovereignty over Taiwan, there is only one China that includes both the mainland and Taiwan. It has not supported Taiwan’s applications for membership, objecting to what it perceives as “an effort to change the fragile status quo that has governed relations among the three.”

What are your thoughts on the Republic of China’s attempts to be recognized as an autonomous political entity? Do you believe that Taiwan should be admitted to the U.N.? Why or why not?

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Since 1911, the Republic of China has been a sovereign state, the first and oldest surviving republic in Asia. It has a population of over 23 million nationals and official diplomatic relations with 23 countries, making it a legitimate autonomous political entity which deserves to be recognized by the international community.

As one of the founding members of the United Nations, the ROC is committed to the principles of universality and freedom and has always worked towards being a responsible member of the international community. While Taiwan’s approach to vying for international participation has changed in recent years, following President Ma Ying-Jeou’s policy of “viable diplomacy” in which Taiwan attempts to gain observer status in UN special agencies (such as the WHA and WHO), it is important to realize that, in our increasingly interconnected world, there are universal issues that have no borders and require complete participation by all political entities.

For instance, climate change is one such issue and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) attempts to create a global system for addressing these issues and coming up with solutions. The ROC is concerned with environmental change and has been working to curb the green house gas emissions for itself and its allies. As an island nation, Taiwan not only feels the effects of climate change in a very immediate way, it is also able to collect and disseminate important meteorological data that makes the global understanding of climate change more complete. By denying the ROC observer status in the UNFCCC, the international community is taking a risk by creating holes in the decision making and communication web. As an entity founded on the principles of global governance and responsibility, the UN should recognize the importance of Taiwan’s contributions to the international community by giving it a greater presence in its organizations.

-Brian Su, Director, Press Division
Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in New York

If “Palestine Authority” could be accepted in UN (at least as an observer), I do not see why “Taiwan Authority” can not be accepted in UN also.


Note that US official position on Taiwan’s legal status is UNDETERMINED (since 1950s). US only “acknowledges” that “Taiwan is part of China” (based on the agreement with Chinese National Party and Chinese Communist Party). Unlike the status quo between Israel and Palestine, “Taiwan Authority” today has no ambition to invade PRC.

Taiwan is Taiwan, period. Today, there are more Taiwan people recognize “Taiwan” (instead of ROC) as their nation identity. Taiwan people were innocent and got caught into the Chinese Civil War between CNP and CCP after 1945. It was not Taiwan PEOPLE’s fault that they can not form their own de-jure nation.

The voices of 23-million people should be heard in UN. Please allow “Taiwan Authority” to join UN, at least as an observer (like South Korea from 1949 to 1991).

It saddened me deeply these 23-million people are denied again and again entry to the UN. Taiwan has its own set of government, the military, laws and the judiciary court – all separate and completely different from China. Taiwan is a nation runs by democratic society. They have the same rights as the rest of us who wants to participate in world events: UN, Olympics, WHO, etc.

Let Taiwan enters UN as “Taiwan”. The Taiwanese people deserve this. They have been shut-down for too long. It is world-abuse. One China policy sounds good to me. Taiwan does not want any association with China what-so-ever. The Taiwanese people recognize their country as Taiwan, not China. The rest of the world should respect and accept. No one else has the right to say anything about them except for themselves.

Tell me, if you have been living in a democratic society all your life: you sing the Taiwanese National Anthem since kindergarten, you wave the Taiwanese flag every year on Independence Day, you vote for your congressmen and leaders on a regular basis, you enjoy your freedom of rights, you pay Taiwanese taxes, you have entitlement to health care as a citizen of Taiwan; and all of a sudden this distant communist country called China claims that you “belong to us” and you have no say in the world, you cannot participate in any national even because China owns you. How would you feel?