October 25 marks the 50th anniversary of the restoration of the lawful seat of the People's Republic of China in the UN. On October 25, 1971, at its 26th session, the UN General Assembly adopted Resolution 2758 with an overwhelming majority where it decided to restore all lawful rights of the People's Republic of China in the UN and recognize the representatives of its government as the only legitimate UN representatives of China.
However, in the face of the undeniable facts, the "Taiwan independence" forces and some Western politicians have once again repeated the same old rhetoric to attack Resolution 2758. Foreign media reported that Rick Waters, Rick Waters, the US State Department's deputy assistant secretary for China, Taiwan and Mongolia, claimed at a German Marshall Fund event on October 21 that "the People's Republic of China has misused resolution 2758." Echoing Waters, Joanne Ou, spokesperson of Taiwan's external affairs authority, said on the same day that "the government of the PRC has not ruled Taiwan for a single day and naturally has no right to voice for Taiwanese."
In an interview with the Global Times, Professor Wang Yingjin, Director of the Center for Cross-Straits Relations studies at Renmin University of China, refuted the remarks of US and Taiwan politicians from legal, historical and realistic perspectives. Here are the details of his interview with the Global Times:
GT: Tsai Ing-wen's authorities claim that the UN General Assembly Resolution 2758 "neither resolves the issue of the representation of the island of Taiwan and its people in the UN system nor addresses the relationship between it and the People's Republic of China." What is wrong about this claim?
Wang: The Resolution 2758 has completely resolved the issue of China's representation in the UN. Taiwan is a region of China and the government of the People's Republic of China (PRC) is the sole legitimate government representing China. So, China's representation in the UN naturally includes representing Taiwan.
From a legal point of view, the succession of the PRC from the Republic of China (ROC) in 1949 included the succession of the right to represent Taiwan.
In 1945, when Japan returned Taiwan to China, the then ROC government took over Taiwan because it was at the time the central government representing China. The establishment of the Central People's Government of the PRC in 1949 announced its replacement of the ROC government as the sole legitimate government of China and the sole legal representative of China internationally, triggering the succession of governments within a country where a new regime replaces the old one. Taiwan, as an inalienable part of China, is naturally included in the succession.
From the UN's point of view, it has always insisted that the representation of Taiwan belongs to the government of the PRC. For a long time, the UN has insisted on handling Taiwan-related affairs on the basis of the one-China principle believing that there is only one China and that Taiwan is a part of China. After the adoption of Resolution 2758, the World Health Organization, the International Civil Aviation Organization and other UN-affiliated bodies subsequently adopted similar policies to restore the legal seat of the PRC in UN-affiliated bodies.
As the most important and influential organization among sovereign states in the world, the resolutions made by the UN still have the effect of "case law" on other international organizations and sovereign states and play an exemplary role that cannot be underestimated.
Moreover, in terms of the process between the two sides across the Straits, the so-called Taiwan's right of representation does not exist. In the 22 years between the establishment of the People's Republic of China in 1949 and the UN General Assembly's approval of the 2758 Resolution in 1971, the two sides both claimed to be the legal regime to represent the whole China. After all, the dispute itself was a demonstration of one China. No matter which side exercises sovereignty, the fact that the Taiwan island belongs to China will not change.
Upholding one-China principle is a norm of international relations. 180 countries and regions have established diplomatic relations with China. Major powers and organizations in the world all uphold the one-China principle. This means that the People's Republic of China representing the whole China is widely recognized by the international community, which takes the island of Taiwan as part of China and maintains only unofficial relations with it.
GT: Joseph Wu, head of the external affairs authority of Taiwan, once said that the 2758 Resolution did not even mention the Taiwan island at that time. Therefore, some politicians on the island and from the US criticized China and the UN as abusing the resolution. Is this the case?
Wang: The fact the resolution does not mention the island of Taiwan explicitly indicates that it is part of China. The resolution not only recognizes People's Republic of China as the only legal representative of China in the UN but expelled all representatives of Chiang Kai-shek from UN organizations and their affiliated agencies. What People's Republic of China represents in the UN is the whole China, which certainly includes the island of Taiwan.
The reason why the 2758 Resolution did not mention the Taiwan island or the island is part of People's Republic of China is because it is already widely recognized by the international community that the island of Taiwan belongs to China. In addition, the resolution is aimed at dealing with the dispute of representation rather than adding a seat in UN. Therefore, it is not necessary to mention the island of Taiwan. Just like it is not necessary to mention Guangdong or Fujian or any other region in China. So, Wu's statement is nothing more than a word game.
GT: The spokesperson of the external affairs authority of Taiwan claimed that China had never ruled Taiwan for a single day thus it has no right to represent the people of Taiwan. Is this statement consistent with the facts?
Wang: From the practice of the international community in handling Taiwan-related affairs, the Chinese government exercises its right of representing Taiwan. Most countries in the world acknowledge the People's Republic of China as the central govern representing China. These countries have only unofficial and civilian exchanges with Taiwan under the condition that they promise to adhere to the one-China principle. International organizations will also ask for China's consent for Taiwan's participation under an appropriate name.
The decision is not only a sign of the exercise of sovereignty by the Chinese government over Taiwan but also an expression of respect from the international community for the exercise of sovereignty by Chinese government over the island.
From the legal perspective of cross-Straits relations, the People's Republic of China completed its succession of government to the Republic of China in 1949, so the Taiwan authorities have since been no longer qualified to exercise effective jurisdiction over the Taiwan region.
But from a practical point of view, due to the cross-straits confrontation, the Taiwan authorities have not actually fulfilled their "legal obligations" and "returned" to the central government the part of the sovereignty over Taiwan that it has no right to continue to exercise.
On the contrary, the Taiwan authorities continue to exercise a de facto jurisdiction over the territory of the island under the former name of the Republic of China, thus preventing the central government from exercising practical and effective sovereignty and governance over the Taiwan region.
From this perspective, reunification has to put an end to the passive separation between the two sides to better safeguard China's sovereignty.
GT: The DPP authorities have been distorting the UN 2758 Resolution. What is the purpose for that?
Wang: Taiwan secessionists have been making efforts in distorting the UN 2758 Resolution, as they falsely claimed that it only solved the issue of China's representation but not the right of the island of Taiwan. They aimed to prove that the position of the island remained undecided and tried to further demonstrate that the island is an "independent sovereign country". Such moves were intended to provide theoretical and legal support for the island's participation in the UN and its subordinate international organizations.
They tried to argue that the resolution only solved the matter of representation of China, namely the government of the People's Republic of China and the government of the alleged Republic of China, and regardless of the final result, this is not related to Taiwan, because the island neither belongs to the People's Republic of China, nor the "Republic of China", so the solution to the problem of the Chinese representative is not the same as the solution of the issue of the representative of Taiwan.
To provide legal support for such discourse, they also relied on the San Francisco Peace Treaty of 1952 to support such claims on the status of Taiwan. I think that no matter how hard the secessionists in Taiwan and anti-China forces at global stage try to distort the 2758 Resolution, their ultimate attempts are doomed to fail.
GT: Besides the secessionists, some anti-China politicians in the US have been claiming that the resolution had not solved the problem of the representation of Taiwan. Why are they claiming this at the 50th anniversary of the restoration of the lawful seat of the People's Republic of China in the UN?
Wang: For a long time, although the US sometimes has moved backward on the one-China policy issue, it still handles Taiwan-related affairs based on the one-China principle, indicating a clear understanding of the problems and effectiveness addressed by UN Resolution 2758.
At present, some politicians and scholars in the US collude with the "Taiwan independence" forces and distort the Resolution 2758 of the United General Assembly mainly out of the need to play the "Taiwan card" in a strategic competition with China. They sought some legal grounds to support Taiwan's participation in international organizations, including the UN, and their activities.
As no effective basis can be found within the existing framework, they began to distort UN General Assembly resolution 2758, claiming that it "did not solve the representation of Taiwan". In their view, distorting the Resolution 2758 could make their moves "legitimate" to support Taiwan's participation in certain intergovernmental international organizations.
These remarks by US politicians are undoubtedly encouraging Taiwan independence forces, further tightening the US-Taiwan relations and making Taiwan a better card to play for the US.