Gordon Hewart, former Chief Justice of England, once said, “Not only must justice be done, it must also be seen to be done.” It is time for Taiwan to be seen and heard.
This September, world leaders from 193 countries gathered for the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA77). However, Taiwan, a fully democratic country with a population of 23.5 million, has been denied entry to the United Nations (UN) due to China’s opposition and the influence it has in the UN system. This was not the first time that Taiwan had been excluded from international organizations. China has been blocking Taiwan’s international participation in the United Nations and its affiliated organizations since 1971 when recognition of the “seat of China” shifted from the Republic of China (ROC) to the People’s Republic of China (PRC).
Taiwan’s status and participation in the United Nations have long been discussed and not resolved. The main reason for Taiwan’s exclusion from the United Nations and other international organizations is China’s objections and UN General Assembly Resolution 2758, passed in 1971 which it uses against Taiwan. At UNGA77, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi used the global stage to advance China’s geopolitical interests. In Wang’s speech during the general debate, he not only mentioned Resolution 2758 when dealing with the Taiwan issue, but also included the one-China principle in the resolution. In addition, Wang claimed that Taiwan is part of China and that the one-China principle has become a unanimous standard in the international community. Wang’s speech was completely unacceptable and unjustified. The fact is that Taiwan has never been a part of China, and Wang not only misinterpreted the meaning of Resolution 2758 and distorted historical facts, but also falsely claimed China’s sovereignty over Taiwan.
Resolution No. 2758 was adopted at the twenty-sixth session of the United Nations General Assembly in October 1971, with seventy-six votes in favor, thirty-five against, and seventeen abstentions. The original language of Resolution 2758 simply addressed China’s legal rights in the United Nations and the United Nations Security Council and expelled Chiang Kai-shek’s representative. In other words, the adoption of Resolution 2758 in the UN General Assembly only fifty years ago solved the problem of China’s representation at the UN. This decision did not give China the right to represent the people of Taiwan and did not recognize China’s sovereignty over Taiwan. Instead, the passage of Resolution 2758 only means a shift in recognition of the “seat of China” by UN member states from the Republic of China to the People’s Republic of China. In fact, the status of Taiwan was not touched upon in Resolution 2758, and the word Taiwan was not even mentioned once.
There should be no doubt that China has posed a serious threat to the international order. China has taken advantage of its growing membership and influence within the United Nations to block Taiwan’s international participation. China’s political ambition to elevate its role in global governance to reshape the international system to achieve its own interests is quite clear. However, the rights of the 23.5 million people in Taiwan should not be manipulated or politicized. Denying Taiwan its participation in the United Nations is not only unfair, but also a violation of the principles of universality and self-determination as enshrined in the United Nations Charter.
Many have recently argued that China’s increasing role in the UN system has quietly weakened the UN’s commitment to human rights and could undermine the rules-based international order. Taiwan’s unfair exclusion from the United Nations and its affiliated organizations should not be considered a special case. A nation that upholds the values of democracy, human rights and the rule of law should not be left out of the United Nations. The world should not be silenced. Taiwan, a country with so many contributions, deserves a seat at the UN table – a voice that represents 23.5 million people must be heard. If the democratic community of countries fails to address this problem and counter China’s authoritarian influence, China will continue to use its influence to make more unfair claims in the future.
Chih Weiqiu is the legislator of the Republic of China (Taiwan).