On This Day

Commissioner’s Office of China’s Foreign Ministry in the Hong Kong SAR
People’s Republic of China representatives Qiao Guanhua and Huang Hua react to the vote that admitted the PRC into the UN, Oct. 25, 1971.

On This Day: People’s Republic of China Replaces the Republic of China in UN

October 25, 2011 06:00 AM
by findingDulcinea Staff
On Oct. 25, 1971, the United Nations General Assembly voted to admit mainland China (the People’s Republic of China) and expel Taiwan (the Republic of China).

China and the United Nations

The Republic of China was a founding member of the UN in 1945 at which time it still governed all of China. However, ROC leaders were driven from the mainland in 1949 by the Communist Party of China, who formed the PRC.

Though it controlled only the island of Taiwan, the ROC still considered itself the one true government of China. This view was supported by the Western powers, who allowed the ROC to remain as China’s representative in the UN in order to prevent another Communist government from gaining a place in the Security Council.

By 1971, the PRC had gained enough international support for the UN General Assembly to pass the resolution declaring that it, and not the ROC, was the rightful representative of China. The resolution specified that it was a “restoration of the lawful rights” to the PRC, indicating that the PRC represented a founding member of the UN and that had been denied its rightful seat since 1949.

 The Communist PRC therefore assumed the ROC’s place in the General Assembly and its place as one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council.

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

The Current Status of Taiwan and the UN

The ROC, which has largely relinquished its claim to mainland China, has continued to fight for a place in the UN. In 2007, it applied to the UN under the name “Taiwan,” but the application was denied. The UN supports the “one China” policy, which maintains that, though PRC does not hold sovereignty over Taiwan, there is only one China that includes both the mainland and Taiwan.

Taiwan’s application was supported only by a small number of small countries. The United States did not support Taiwan’s application because it “saw it as an effort to change the fragile status quo that has governed relations among the three.”

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