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China celebrates 50 years of being in the United Nations (UN)
Fifty years ago, representatives from around the world gathered at United Nations headquarters in New York for a vote that changed history.
In the end, the Republic of China (ROC), a government that fled to Taiwan after losing the Chinese civil war in 1949, left the global organization. In contrast, the People’s Republic of China (PRC), the Communist government that took power on the continent, is recognized as “China’s sole legitimate representative” and is recognized at the United Nations as a permanent member of the Security Council with veto power.
It was a crushing blow to the nationalist government, which had been one of the founding members of the United Nations and had contributed to the Allied victory in World War II. That evening, as the Taipei delegation walked out of the general assembly hall, its foreign minister bitterly warned that the decision would threaten peace everywhere.
After the Communist victory and the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, both the Nationalist and Communist governments claimed to be the sole representatives of all Chinese territory, forcing other countries and international organizations to choose one or the other.
Initially, many countries remained loyal to their alliance with the People’s Republic of China and avoided the People’s Republic of China. But as time went on, more and more governments shifted diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing, leaving Taiwan with only 15 diplomatic allies today.
The United Nations was also forced to vote, and the decisive 1971 vote ultimately reflected a change in which its members had decided to recognize “China”.
Dual representation at the UN had previously been put forward as a possible solution but was ousted by Beijing and Taipei. “There is no room for patriots and traitors to coexist,” said Chiang Kaishek, the defeated nationalist leader, in 1961.
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