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The U.N. seats the People’s Republic of China and expels Taiwan

The U.N. seats the People’s Republic of China and expels Taiwan

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U.N. representatives vote to seat the the People's Republic of China as a permanent member and expels Taiwan, led by the Chinese Nationalist Party.

The U.S.—which had unsuccessfully proposed seating both the PRC and Taiwan—was interested in seeking the PRC’s help in resolving the sticky Vietnam situation, using influence with the PRC as diplomatic leverage against the Soviets and forming lucrative economic relations.

U.S. relations with the PRC soon soared, highlighted by President Richard Nixon’s visit to China in 1972.

The U.N. seats the People’s Republic of China and expels Taiwan - HISTORY

Taiwan and U.S.- China Relations

(Please see also the companion article on on U.S.-China Relations Since 1949)

In 1949, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) took power on the Chinese mainland from the Nationalist government and declared the founding of the People's Republic of China (PRC). The Nationalist government evacuated the administration of the Republic of China (ROC) , as it was called, to the island province of Taiwan, contesting the power of the CCP on the mainland. The United States and other governments continued for some time to recognize the Republic of China (ROC) as the government of all China. That policy changed in the 1970s.

Geographic note: the Taiwan Strait, a body of water hat is approximately 110 miles wide at its widest point, separates the island of Taiwan from the mainland of China. As a result, relations between China and Taiwan are often referred to a "cross-Strait relations."

On January 1, 1979, the United States and the Peoples' Republic of China (PRC)&mdashhereafter, "China"&mdashestablished diplomatic relations, almost thirty years after the Communist government came to power in 1949.

  • The process of establishing diplomatic ties with the United States began in February of 1972 when President Nixon visited China. That visit produced "The Shanghai Communiqué," which was an acknowledgement by China and the United States that the two countries faced obstacles to establishing diplomatic relations, but also that they would work toward "normalizing" their relations.
    It was clear," writes one historian, "that the principal obstacle to regular diplomatic relations, to 'normalization' with China, was not the American role in Vietnam [1955-1975], but rather Taiwan."
  • The problem centered on the fact that both China and Taiwan claimed that there is only one China, and that Taiwan is a part of China, but each side also claimed to be the legitimate government of China, with Taiwan using the formal name "Republic of China" (ROC) to express that claim, and China using the formal name "People's Republic of China" (PRC).
  • The PRC objected to the United States having diplomatic relations with both the PRC and the "ROC," here after, "Taiwan,"&mdashbecause it would mean that the United States believed there were "two Chinas," and not just one China.
  • Further, China demanded that the United States withdraw its troops stationed in Taiwan, but refused to promise that the PRC would not use force to "reunite" the island of Taiwan with the mainland of China, which the United States asked the PRC to promise.

The PRC government believed that the issue of Taiwan was an "internal" problem it concerned only the Chinese on Taiwan and the Chinese on the Mainland, and the United States should not interfere. In the "Shanghai Communiqué" the United States said that it did not challenge the claim that there was one China but would insist on "a peaceful settlement of the Taiwan question."

China's Seat on the UN Security Council:

  • Despite U.S. opposition, but very much in response to U.S.-China détente, the United Nations in 1971 voted for the PRC to replace the ROC in the China seat, which includes a seat as a permanent member of the UN Security Council.
  • Finally in 1979, official U.S. ties with the Republic of China on Taiwan were cut as the U.S. switched its diplomatic recognition to the People's Republic of China on the mainland.

Taiwan Relations Act of the U.S. Congress

Many Americans were upset at what they felt was the "abandonment" of Taiwan, and soon after diplomatic relations were established with the PRC, the U.S. Congress passed the "Taiwan Relations Act."

  • This Act sought to grant Taiwan the same privileges as a sovereign nation, though it was no longer recognized as one
    • it reiterated the American commitment to a peaceful resolution of the Taiwan issue, and
    • it promised to make available "such defense articles and defense services as may be necessary to enable Taiwan to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability."

    Joint Communique of the U.S. and China&mdash1982

    In 1982, the United States and the PRC again signed a "joint communiqué" (sometimes referred to as the "the 2nd Shanghai Communiqué") stating that the United States would not sell Taiwan a greater number of weapons than it did before 1979, and that they would not be more sophisticated.

    • But the commitment was premised on progress toward peaceful resolution of the Taiwan issue, and the United States refused to commit itself to a date on which it would stop selling weapons to Taiwan.
    • Indeed, arms sales to Taiwan have continued at a robust or even increasing level in both quantity and quality right through 2020.

    Throughout the 1980s the PRC's relationship with the United States continued to flourish, as did the U.S. relationship with Taiwan.

    The PRC has made many offers to Taiwan to "reunify" with the mainland on the basis of "one country, two systems," a proposal that China claimed would give Taiwan plenty of freedom to maintain its own political, social, and economic systems.

    • Most Taiwanese opposed this solution, fearing that it would give them less security and autonomy than their existing status as a self-governing territory that neither declared independence from China nor unified with it.

    Starting in the mid-1980s, the political system on Taiwan moved dramatically toward becoming a democracy.

    • It held free elections for its legislature every three years starting in 1992 and free presidential elections every four years starting in 1996.
    • As a result of this process both Taiwanese and American policies toward relations between Taiwan and China changed.
    • Fewer and fewer people in Taiwan favored unification with the mainland, and increasing numbers favored independence in the long run, but maintaining the status quo as long as necessary to avoid war with mainland China.
    • Taiwan's leaders sought negotiations to reduce tensions with China so long as the two sides could negotiate as equals, which Chinese negotiators avoided.
    • The United States for its part insisted that any solution to the problem of Taiwan's status must command the assent of the people of Taiwan.

    From the point of view of the PRC government in Beijing, the Chinese and American positions represented erosion of its long-standing claim to sovereignty over Taiwan.

    • China responded by threatening Taiwan with missile exercises in the waters around Taiwan during 1995-1996, an episode which led the United States to dispatch two aircraft carrier battle groups to the region as a show of its determination to prevent a Chinese use of force against Taiwan.
    • In 2000, the election of Taiwan's first opposition party candidate, Chen Shui-bian of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), again raised tensions in the region, as China suspected him of intending to accelerate the trend toward asserting a separate Taiwanese sovereignty.
    • While Taiwan changed, the political system on mainland China did not change dramatically.
    • The PRC is reforming its socialist system, but mainly in the economic field and to only a limited degree, and has become more repressive politically, which has made unification with the mainland even more unattractive for citizens of Taiwan.
    • Taiwan and the PRC have established mail, telecommunications, shipping, and air travel links, and Taiwan permits its citizens to travel to the PRC, and allows citizens from the PRC to visit Taiwan.
    • Face-to-face talks between delegates of the two sides have, however, been infrequent and not very productive. Chen Shui-bian's successor as Taiwan's president, Ma Ying-jeou of the Nationalist Party, modestly improved relations with the PRC.
    • Taiwanese opinion continued to shift against unification, based on a revulsion against political repression on the mainland.
    • Ma was succeeded by another DPP leader, Tsai Ing-wen, who maintained a "status quo" stance of neither unification nor independence and close ties with the United States.

    Status Quo as of 2020

    In response to the adverse trend in public opinion on Taiwan, China steadily strengthened its military posture so as to deter an American intervention aimed at protecting Taiwan.

    • Taiwan has responded by hardening its own military posture so that Chinese forces, although much larger and more advanced than Taiwan forces, would have a hard time taking the island militarily.
    • The United States, meanwhile, maintains a stance of "strategic ambiguity" about what it might do in case of a mainland attack on Taiwan.

    As the stalemate continues, China's policy-makers in Beijing believe that the residents of Taiwan will eventually have no alternative but to accept Chinese terms for reunification, while most Taiwan residents hope that the PRC will eventually undergo a transition to democracy and then be willing to reach a formula that respects Taiwan's autonomy.

    For the current status of Taiwan-U.S.-China relations, consult:

    Taiwan Relations Act (1979)

    The consultant for this unit is Andrew J. Nathan, Class of 1919 Professor of Political Science at Columbia University. His teaching and research interests include Chinese politics and foreign policy, the comparative study of political participation and political culture, and human rights.

    Communists seize China, Oct. 1, 1949

    On this this day in 1949, Mao Zedong, a veteran communist revolutionary leader, declared the establishment of the People’s Republic of China and named himself head of state. Zhou Enlai was named premier of the new government in Beijing.

    Mao’s action culminated more than two decades of civil and foreign wars that devastated much of China and caused tens of millions of deaths. For many years, Mao’s communist forces battled the regime of Chiang Kai-shek, the Nationalist Chinese leader, as both sides separately waged war against the Japanese invaders.

    Some 10 weeks after Mao’s proclamation went into effect, troops of the People’s Liberation Army laid siege to Chengdu, the last Nationalist-held city in mainland China. Chiang and his supporters fled to the island of Taiwan, where they established their new political and military base.

    Washington had long backed the Nationalists with money and arms. The communist victory vexed the U.S. government, which was still absorbing the political impact of the Soviet Union’s detonation of a nuclear bomb a month earlier.

    In an effort to cushion the political fallout, the State Department had released a “white paper” in August that argued that Chiang’s regime was so corrupt and unpopular that no amount of American aid could have saved it from falling. But Republicans in Congress charged that the administration of President Harry S. Truman had paved the way for the communist victory by mishandling the situation in Asia’s largest nation.

    Aspirants Renew Push for Permanent Seats on Expanded UN Security Council

    Berlin (CNSNews.com) – Reviving a decades-old debate, four countries that have long sought membership on an expanded U.N. Security Council are using the opportunity of the 75th U.N. General Assembly to urge the U.N. to restart talks on UNSC reform, with “concrete outcomes” within 12 months.

    “What is needed is a representative UNSC to help us restore confidence in international cooperation and global governance – urgent more than ever in these testing times,” foreign ministers of the so-called G4 group -- Germany, Brazil, Japan, and India – said in a statement.

    The U.N. body responsible for maintaining international peace and security comprises five permanent, veto-wielding members – Britain, China, France, Russia, and the United States – and 10 non-permanent members elected for two-year terms. The makeup of the P5 largely reflects the balance of power at the end of World War II (in 1971 the General Assembly voted to give the “China” seat to the communist People’s Republic of China and expelled Taiwan).

    The G4 criticized the lack of progress in intergovernmental negotiation on Security Council reform, which started in its current form in 2009, criticizing “attempts to derail” the process, arguing that virtual meetings could have been adopted to keep it moving.

    The four governments said that “an overwhelming majority” of member-states support comprehensive UNSC reform and expect “concrete outcomes” in the U.N.’s 75th anniversary year.

    Reforming the council is the only way to stop it from becoming “obsolete,” argued the Indian government, which chaired the G4 meeting. “Broader membership of the Security Council, with increased and enhanced representation of countries … including from Africa, will allow it to preserve its credibility and create the political backing needed for the peaceful resolution of today’s international crises.”

    “Too often the U.N. Security Council is blocked when clear decisions are needed,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel said this week, in reference to the use of the veto to block measures a particular member opposes.

    Discussion over reforming and expanding the UNSC have been underway since the 1990s, receiving a boost when U.N. secretary-general Antonio Guterres placed it on his personal agenda in 2019.

    The G4 supports the idea of permanent seats for themselves, plus two for African countries, as well as the addition of more nonpermanent seats.

    Regional rivalries have long held up progress, however. Pakistan opposes a permanent seat for India, China opposes one for Japan, and Italy opposes one for Germany.

    The European Union supports reform, and in a report this month said that although COVID-19 exposed weaknesses in the multilateral system, the order had already been challenged, in particular by the Trump administration’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal and the suspension by the U.S. and Russia of their obligations under the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.

    Even permanent members appear to agree the council should become more “inclusive,” but remain divided on what form that would take.

    In his speech to the General Assembly this week, Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed with the idea of a more “inclusive” Security Council, but was quick to dismiss any notion of limiting veto power.

    “The Security Council should be more inclusive of the interests of all countries, as well as the diversity of their positions,” Putin said. “Which cannot be achieved unless the permanent members of the Security Council retain their veto power.”

    “Such a right pertaining to the five nuclear powers, the victors of the Second World War, remains indicative of the actual military and political balance to this day,” he added.

    WHO Says 13 Countries Now Back Proposal for Taiwan’s Participation in World Health Assembly

    (CNSNews.com) – Amid firm Chinese opposition, at least 13 countries are now backing a proposal that the World Health Organization’s annual World Health Assembly, meeting later this month, invite Taiwan to take part as an observer.

    WHO principal legal officer Steven Solomon at a press briefing in Geneva did not name the 13 countries, but Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last week called publicly on other countries to support Taiwan’s participation at the WHA, beginning on May 18 and taking place in a virtual format this year.

    Other countries that have spoken publicly in support of Taiwan this year include Japan, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

    Taiwan’s small handful of diplomatic allies – 15 developing countries whose recognition of Taiwan means China refuses to have ties with them – are generally also supportive of its participation at the WHA.

    China views Taiwan as a rebellious province and part of “one China,” a stance with which most of the international community largely complies.

    Since being ejected from the United Nations in 1971 – when the General Assembly voted to give the “China” seat to the communist People’s Republic of China and expelled Taiwan – the self-governing island has not been welcome at the annual WHA, the WHO’s top decision-making body.

    Only between 2009 and 2016 was it allowed to attend, since China consented during the tenure of a Taiwanese government regarded relatively benignly by Beijing.

    Taiwan, today a thriving democracy ranked by the IMF the world’s 20th largest economy by GDP (PPP), continues to be isolated, despite China’s insistence that it takes responsibility for the island and its 23 million people – a claim strongly disputed by Taiwan’s government.

    This year’s bid for WHA participation comes amid the coronavirus pandemic that had its origins in China late last year. Taiwan’s response to the outbreak has been widely praised, in stark contrast to China’s, which the U.S. and some others accuse of mishandling and attempting to cover up, especially at its early stages.

    Labeling WHO officials overly deferential to China, President Trump has suspended U.S. funding to the agency, pending a review.

    At Monday’s WHO press briefing, officials once again fielded questions on the issue of Taiwan’s participation at the assembly, and repeated the line that it was an issue for the 194 WHO member-states, not for the secretariat headed by director-general Tedros Adhanom.

    After reading from the 1972 WHO resolution that kicked out Taiwan (a year after the General Assembly did so in New York), Solomon said that WHO directors-general “only extend invitations [to non-member entities] when it’s clear that member-states support doing so.”

    In the case of Taiwan, he said, “instead of clear support there are divergent views among member-states and no basis, therefore no mandate, for the DG to extend an invitation.”

    “A proposal has been made by 13 states now, that the assembly itself make a decision on an invitation,” he continued. “That is procedurally how it is supposed to work under the [WHO] constitution. All 194 member-states can consider the issue collectively, in accordance with the rules of procedure.”

    ‘Out-and-out political manipulation’

    On Monday, the U.S. Senate passed “by unanimous consent” a resolution, authored by Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) and co-sponsored by 15 Republicans and seven Democrats, designed to strengthen U.S. efforts to support Taiwan’s observer status at the WHA.

    The chairmen and ranking members of the Senate Foreign Relations and House Foreign Affairs committees last week signed joint letters to more than 50 countries, urging them to support Taiwan at the WHA.

    “Given what the world has endured as a result of COVID-19, U.N. member states joining together to insist that Taiwan be invited to the upcoming virtual WHA session in May 2020 is the right place to start,” they wrote.

    Recipients included European and other close U.S. allies, countries across Asia, and Taiwanese allies.

    Taiwan’s foreign ministry thanked the lawmakers, saying strong U.S. backing for its bid “plays a pivotal role in cultivating support for Taiwan’s inclusion in international organizations.”

    Beijing, however, shows no sign of relenting on the issue.

    “China’s position is clear and consistent,” foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a briefing on Monday. “The one-China principle must be observed.”

    “Based on this principle, the central government of China has made proper arrangements for Taiwan region’s participation in global health events, which ensures that the Taiwan region can promptly and effectively respond to local and global public health incidents,” he said.

    Zhao accused Taiwanese authorities are exploiting the coronavirus pandemic to push its campaign.

    “The timing reveals its true motive, which is to use the current outbreak to seek Taiwan independence,” he charged. “It is out-and-out political manipulation.”

    Excerpts From Debate on China's Seat in the U.N.

    UNITED NATIONS, N. Y., Oct. 19—Following are excerpts from today's debate in the General Assembly on the, issue whether the expulsion of Nationalist China is an “important question,” requir ing a two‐thirds majority, a resolution urged by the United States in the hope of preventing Taipei's ouster.

    As a close neighbor of China, we are keenly aware of the nature and shades of the realities of the China problem. The question of Chinese representation touches the ‘heart of this problem, and therefore my Government has a most vital interest in the outcome of the present issue.

    The first basic factor to be taken into account is that there are two Governments confronting each other across the Taiwan Straits. One of these is the Government of the Republic of China, in effective control of a population of some 14 million people who enjoy a high standard of living in Taiwan. The other is, the Government of the People's Republic of China, in effective control of the mainland Chinna with a population over 700 million people.

    We, are prepared to accept the reality of , the actual situation that devseloped over a number ‘of yedrs in the Far East. We sincerely believe that the time is ripe for the People's Republic of China to participate fully in the United Nations. The situation in Asia seems to be undergoing a change for the better, and it appears that the external posture of the People's Republic of China, as part of this favorable trend, has become more moderate.

    There is, furthermore, large and growing voice in the international community, which we share, supporting the participation in the United Nations of the Government of the People's Republic of China, which effectively controls mainland China. It appears that the People's Republic of China desires to respond to that voice. We are glad to take note of these developments and, we would welcome and look forward to the active participation of the Government of the People's Republic of China in the United Nations.

    I should like to add that we hive for many years developed, mutually beneficial trade relations with the People's Republic of China on a large scale. Also, there ing place after nearly a quarter century of tension and hostility between them has aroused hopes that it would mark a turning point in world affairs.

    The inescapable fact is that the People's Republic of China is bound to be restored its rights in the United Nations soon. That is the writing on the wall which no one can refuse to read.

    The important question which this Assembly has to face therefore is, whether the member states of the United Nations are going to display foresight and grace in now welcoming the representatives of the People's Republic of China or whether, by following a course which would postpone that event, we betray the impotence of all but the great powers, in accelerating progress towards ends that themselves are no longer controversial. The seating of the People's Republic of China at this session will evoke a new interest in and respect for the United Nations among peoples and governments all the world.

    The words “to expel forthwith the representatives of Chiang Kai‐shek from the place which they unlawfully occupy at the United Nations and all the organizations related to it” do not represent an additional element. They merely state what logically follows from , the previous clause.

    There is only one member state, which is China. It is that member state, howsoever designated, for which the [Albanian] resolution seeks rightful representation at the United Nations.

    There is only one route to such representation. It is the route that has been followed in the case of the representation of all other member states. Not the, expulsion of a member state, but the departure of one delegation and the entry of another is all that is involved here.

    Had it been otherwise, the fact that no member state has been expelled from the United Nations in its history would have certainly made us pause and reflect. But there have been a number of cases where representatives of governments and regimes vacated their seats when regimes ceased to exercise authority. Let us not forget that those representatives were also honorable men whose integrity could not be impugned. Yet neither their their personal worth nor the good standing of the governments which they represented could avail them against the operation of an established rule. It is only because those who now occupy China's seat have not elected to depart that a necessity has been Imposed on us, to demand their withdrawal.

    The second point which my delegation would urge on the Assembly is that, once the unity of China is accepted, the formula of dual representation can be seen to be wholly out of place.

    It is said that the dual rep, resentation formula does not forclose the chances of a future settlement. But is it realistic to suppose that the conferment of the status of a separate member on the Chiang Kai‐shek regime will not prejudice these chances? What inducement will this regime still have to settle China's internal problem with the central government if, in the General Assembly, it attains a status equal to the latter's?

    It seems to us that the dual representation resolution may turn out to be a prescription for perpetuating the division of China by legalizing the representation of two conflicting authorities within China.

    (Translated from the Spanish)

    It is an amusing argument that some have sketched out, that the fact that the Government of Generalisimo Chiang Kai‐shek signed the Charter at San Francisco means that he is the one who should continue to represent China in the United Nations. This would be tantamount to saying that the United Nations may have personal contracts with heads of Government instead of being what it is, an assemblage of legally organized states.

    For the 26 years of the life of the ‘organization, there have been many changes in government in various states. However, we have never heard the affirmation that since a particular head of government signed the Charter, it is up to him to continue, to represent that Government even though his Government may have been overthrown.

    It also is a bizarre argument that the People's Republic of China should be admitted to the United Nations in accordance with the provisions of Article 4 of the Charter, constituting a sort of mea culpa concerning the war of Korea which developed along its frontiers and a pledge that it would respect the Charter and that it is a peace‐loving state.

    This argument is totally devoid of legal meaning because China is a founding member of the United Nations, one of the five permanent members of the Security Council, and doesn't have to be admitted inasmuch as all that we have to do is to ascertain which of the two governments should represent it.

    At the current session there is no more talk that all proposals designed to change the representation of China are an important question in other words we have set aside the problem of representation and the whole thing has been changed to the effect any arrangement depriving the Republic of China of its representation in the United Nations is an important question.

    I must confess that the last paragraph of the [United States] draft resolution is difficult for me to understand. It refers to the fact that any proposal which would result in depriving the Republic of China of representation in the United Nations is an important question. The Republic of China is a member state, designated as such by that name in the Charter, and therefore, no one can deprive it of its existence without a reform of the charter.

    Nor can we deprive the Republic of China of its representation. There is the simple fact there are two states which claim this representation and one of them, the People's Republic of China, should hold the seat assigned to it under the Charter. If, as a result of the vote, we should decide that the People's Republic of China is the one which is the lawful representative of the people of China we would not be depriving the Republic of China of representation, but, rather, we would be changing the representation that has so far existed.

    Hannes Hjartansson, Iceland

    It has been argued that the People's Republic of China has not been interested in membership or that it does not fulfill the lofty aims the Charter sets for membership in this world body.,

    We understand on the contrary that the Government of the People's Republic of China is not only willing but most desirous of occupying China's seat here. We therefore strongly believe that it is only just and logical that the seat belonging to China be taken as soon as possible by the People's Republic of China.

    We detect at this session of the General Assembly a breath of new realism in this matter. We applaud this new realism which is a heartening sign of improved international relations and in the interest of world peace.



    Several armies were associated with this era, including those of the various warlords, the KMT, and the CPC. There were two armies regarded as the "national army": the Beiyang Army of the Warlord government and later the National Revolutionary Army of the Nationalist Government.

    The founding of the Republic was made possible by mutiny within the Qing New Army. When Yuan Shikai took over as president, he was already commander of the Beiyang Army, which controlled North China. However, with Yuan's death in 1916, numerous factions within the Beiyang Army broke loose, and the leading generals of the Beiyang Army became warlords, ruling huge fiefdoms in the following decade. Regulars in these warlord armies often did not wear uniforms and the distinction between bandit and soldier was blurred.

    With the help of the Comintern, Sun Yat-sen established the National Revolutionary Army in 1925 in Guangdong with a goal of reunifying China under the Kuomintang. To this end, it initially fought against the warlords who had fractured China, successfully unifying China, and later against the Communist Red Army. A minor Sino-Soviet conflict in 1929 was fought over the administration of the Manchurian Chinese Eastern Railway. The National Revolutionary Army also fought against Japanese invasion during the Second Sino-Japanese War (1931 and 1937-1945), which became a part of the larger World War II. Leadership of the military during this time empowered political leadership. Following the principles of Leninism the distinctions among party, state, and army were blurred.

    When the Communist People's Liberation Army won the Chinese Civil War, much of the National Revolutionary Army retreated to Taiwan along with the government. It was later reformed into the Republic of China Army. Units which surrendered and remained in China were either disbanded or incorporated into the PLA.


    The ROC maintains a large military, mainly as defense against the constant threat of invasion by the PRC. From 1949 to the 1970s the military's primary mission was to "retake the mainland." As this mission has shifted to defense, the ROC military has begun to shift emphasis from the traditionally dominant army to the air force and navy. Control of the armed forces has also passed into the hands of the civilian government. As the ROC military shares historical roots with the KMT, the older generation of high ranking officers tends to have Pan-Blue sympathies. However, many have retired and there are many more non-Mainlanders enlisting in the armed forces in the younger generations, so the political leanings of the military have moved closer to the public norm in Taiwan.

    The ROC's armed forces number approximately 300,000, with nominal reserves totaling 3,870,000. The ROC began a force reduction program to scale down its military from a level of 430,000 in the 1990s which is drawing to a close by 2005. Conscription remains universal for qualified males reaching age eighteen, but as a part of the reduction effort many are given the opportunity to fulfill their draft requirement through alternative service and are redirected to government agencies or defense related industries. Current plans call for a transition to a predominantly professional army over the next decade. Conscription periods will decrease by two months each year, with a final result of three months.

    The armed forces' primary concern at this time is the possibility of an attack by the PRC, consisting of a naval blockade, airborne assault and/or missile bombardment. Four upgraded Kidd-class destroyers were recently purchased from the United States, significantly upgrading Taiwan's air defense and submarine hunting abilities. The Ministry of National Defense planned to purchase diesel-powered submarines and Patriot anti-missile batteries from the United States, but its budget has been stalled repeatedly by the opposition- Pan-Blue Coalition controlled legislature. The defense package has been stalled since 2001 and there is now debate about the relevance of the submarines and whether different hardware should be purchased. A significant amount of military hardware has been bought from the United States, and continues to be legally guaranteed today by the Taiwan Relations Act. In the past, the ROC has also purchased hardware from France and the Netherlands.

    The first line of defense against invasion by the PRC is the ROC's own armed forces. Current ROC military doctrine is to hold out against an invasion or blockade until the U.S. military responds. A defense pact between the U.S. and Japan signed in 2005 implies that Japan would be involved in any response. Other U.S. allies, such as Australia, could theoretically be involved but this is unlikely in practice.


    Prehistory [ edit | edit source ]

    Archaeological evidence suggests that the earliest hominids in China date from 250,000 to 2.24 million years ago. A cave in Zhoukoudian (near present-day Beijing) has fossils dated at somewhere between 300,000 to 780,000 years. The fossils are of Peking Man, an example of Homo erectus who used fire.

    The earliest evidence of a fully modern human in China comes from Liujiang County, Guangxi, where a cranium has been found and dated at approximately 67,000 years old. Controversy persists over the dating of the Liujiang remains (a partial skeleton from Minatogawa in Okinawa).

    Early dynastic rule [ edit | edit source ]

    Chinese tradition names the first dynasty Xia, but it was considered mythical until scientific excavations found early Bronze Age sites at Erlitou in Henan Province in 1959. Archaeologists have since uncovered urban sites, bronze implements, and tombs in locations cited as Xia's in ancient historical texts, but it is impossible to verify that these remains are of the Xia without written records from the period.

    The first Chinese dynasty that left historical records, the loosely feudal Shang (Yin), settled along the Yellow River in eastern China from the 17th to the 11th century BC. The oracle bone script of the Shang Dynasty represent the oldest forms of Chinese writing found and the direct ancestor of modern Chinese characters used throughout East Asia. The Shang were invaded from the west by the Zhou, who ruled from the 12th to the 5th century BC, until their centralized authority was slowly eroded by feudal warlords. Many independent states eventually emerged out of the weakened Zhou state, and continually waged war with each other in the Spring and Autumn Period, only occasionally deferring to the Zhou king. By the time of the Warring States Period, there were seven powerful sovereign states, each with its own king, ministry and army.

    Imperial China [ edit | edit source ]

    The first unified Chinese state was established by Qin Shi Huang of the Qin state in 221 BC. Qin Shi Huang proclaimed himself the "First Emperor" (始皇帝), and imposed many reforms throughout China, notably the forced standardization of the Chinese language, measurements, length of cart axles, and currency. The Qin Dynasty lasted only fifteen years, falling soon after Qin Shi Huang's death, as its harsh legalist and authoritarian policies led to widespread rebellion.

    The subsequent Han Dynasty ruled China between 206 BC and 220 AD, and created a lasting Han cultural identity among its populace that extends to the present day. The Han Dynasty expanded the empire's territory considerably with military campaigns reaching Korea, Vietnam, Mongolia and Central Asia, and also helped establish the Silk Road in Central Asia. China was for a large part of the last two millennia the world's largest economy. However, in the later part of the Qing Dynasty, China's economic development began to slow and Europe's rapid development during and after the Industrial Revolution enabled it to surpass China.

    After the collapse of Han, another period of disunion followed, including the highly chivalric period of the Three Kingdoms. Independent Chinese states of this period such as Wu opened diplomatic relations with Japan, introducing the Chinese writing system there. In 580 AD, China was reunited under the Sui. However, the Sui Dynasty was short-lived after a failure in the Goguryeo-Sui Wars (598–614) weakened it.

    Under the succeeding Tang and Song dynasties, Chinese technology and culture reached its zenith. The Tang Empire was at its height of power until the middle of the 8th century, when the An Shi Rebellion destroyed the prosperity of the empire. The Song Dynasty was the first government in world history to issue paper money and the first Chinese polity to establish a permanent standing navy. Between the 10th and 11th centuries, the population of China doubled in size. This growth came about through expanded rice cultivation in central and southern China, and the production of abundant food surpluses.

    Within its borders, the Northern Song Dynasty had a population of some 100 million people. The Song Dynasty was a culturally rich period for philosophy and the arts. Landscape art and portrait painting were brought to new levels of maturity and complexity after the Tang Dynasty, and social elites gathered to view art, share their own, and trade precious artworks. Philosophers such as Cheng Yi and Chu Hsi reinvigorated Confucianism with new commentary, infused Buddhist ideals, and emphasized a new organization of classic texts that brought about the core doctrine of Neo-Confucianism.

    In 1271, the Mongol leader and fifth Khagan of the Mongol Empire Kublai Khan established the Yuan Dynasty, with the last remnant of the Song Dynasty falling to the Yuan in 1279. Before the Mongol invasion, Chinese dynasties reportedly had approximately 120 million inhabitants after the conquest was completed in 1279, the 1300 census reported roughly 60 million people.


    (or Formosa), an island in the Pacific Ocean, off the eastern coast of mainland China, from which it is separated by the Formosa Strait, or Taiwan Strait. Area, about 36,000 sq km. Population, 15.6 million (end of 1973).

    Together with the Pescadores Islands (P&rsquoenghu), Taiwan makes up Taiwan Province of the People&rsquos Republic of China (PRC). The island extends north to south for 394 km and has a maximum width of 140 km. The coast is mildly indented the eastern coast is often steep and the western coast slopes gently. The Central Range (or Taiwan Mountains), with elevations to 3,997 m, stretches along the entire island. There is a group of extinct volcanoes in the north, and a coastal plain in the west. Earthquakes are frequent. The island has deposits of anthracite (at Hsinchu), natural gas (at Niushan), petroleum, and gold.

    Taiwan has a subtropical climate in the north and a tropical monsoon climate in the south. The January temperature is 15°&ndash20°C and the July temperature is 25°&ndash30°C. Annual precipitation is 1,500&ndash2,500 mm on the plains and more than 5,000 mm in some mountain areas precipitation is highest in the summer. Typhoons are frequent in August and September. Taiwan has mountain-type rivers with a high water level, which are rich sources of hydroelectric power they are extensively used for irrigation.

    More than two-thirds of the island is covered by forests, growing mainly on red earths and brown forest soils. The forests are distinguished by a great variety of species there are more than 3,000 species, of which more than 1,500 are endemic. On the lower slopes are evergreen rain forests of screw pine, palm, bamboo, and liana, and the zone above has broad-leaved deciduous and mixed forests of camphor tree, cypress, spruce, fir, tree fern, and trees of the genus Pseudotsuga. Above 3,300 m, forests give way to rhododendron shrubs and high-mountain meadows. The coastal plains are dominated by rice paddies, sweet-potato fields, and sugarcane and pineapple plantations. Mangrove forests grow in some areas along the coast.

    Economy. Taiwan has an industrial-agrarian economy. Natural gas is extracted on a small scale, as is anthracite (3.3 million tons). Output of electric power is 19.8 billion kilowatt-hours (1973). The manufacturing industry is based mainly on local agricultural raw materials and imported semifinished products and fuel. The main branches in terms of value of production are the textile industry, radio electronics (mainly assembly), shipbuilding, the food industry (mainly sugar refining 900,000 tons in 1974), the chemical and petrochemical industry (fertilizer production exceeds 1.4 million tons), petroleum refining (more than 10 million tons), the cement industry (6 million tons of cement), the wood-products industry, steel production (more than 1 million tons), and aluminum production (35,000 tons in 1973). The main industrial centers are Taipei and its outer port, Chilung (Keelung), Kaohsiung, and T&rsquoaichung. Logging is also prominent, and Taiwan is the world&rsquos largest producer and exporter of camphor.

    About one-quarter of the island is cultivated, mainly the western part. About one-half of the cultivated area is under rice, which is harvested twice a year the 1973 harvest was 2.3 million tons. Agriculture specializes in the cultivation of sugarcane (7.5 million tons), sweet potato, tea (28,600 tons), and tropical fruits, including pineapples, bananas, and mandarins. The main branch of animal husbandry is swine raising (3.6 million hogs). Fishing is also important.

    Historical survey. In antiquity, Taiwan was settled by Kaoshan tribes. The first Chinese military expedition to Taiwan took place in A.D. 230. In the 13th century the island was officially included on the map of the Chinese empire. The first Chinese body of local authority was established there in 1360. Chinese settlers pushed the native Taiwanese into the mountains. Incursions into Taiwan by European colonialists began in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. The Portuguese arrived on the island in 1590 and named it Ilha Formosa, or Beautiful Island. The Dutch seized the island in 1624. In 1661&ndash62 they were driven out by Chinese patriotic detachments led by Cheng Ch&rsquoeng-kung, who made the island into the base for a 22-year struggle against the Manchu, who had conquered mainland China.

    The Manchu dynasty established its rule on Taiwan in 1683. In 1686 the island was made a province of the Manchu empire. After the Opium War of 1856&ndash60, Manchu China was forced to open Taiwanese ports to foreign powers. France tried to seize the island in 1884, during a war with the Chinese. Japan acquired Taiwan and the Pescadores by the Treaty of Shimonoseki (1895), which ended the Sino-Japanese War of 1894&ndash95. The population of Taiwan, led by T&rsquoang Ching-sung, put up heroic resistance to the Japanese invaders in May 1895 the rebels established the &ldquoTaiwanese Republic,&rdquo which existed for a few months.

    On Oct. 25, 1945, after the defeat of Japanese militarism in World War II, Taiwan was returned to China in accordance with the decisions of the Cairo Conference of 1943 and the Potsdam Conference of 1945 and provisions of the instrument of Japanese surrender. After the establishment of the PRC in October 1949, Taiwan became a refuge for the remnants of the Kuomintang group of Chiang Kai-shek and his army, which had been defeated in the civil war by the People&rsquos Liberation Army of China. The so-called National Assembly had been elected on Taiwan as early as 1947, and the legislative yuan (parliament) in 1948 the terms of these bodies were later extended for an indefinite period. The followers of Chiang Kai-shek introduced universal military service on Taiwan and created their own armed forces, which numbered 530,000 in 1975, including 375,000 ground troops in 20 divisions, two brigades, and other units an air force of 80,000, with more than 400 aircraft and a navy of 75,000, with 19 destroyers, two submarines, 13 patrol boats, and other vessels and two divisions of marines. Most of the armament is American.

    On Dec. 2, 1954, the government of the USA, which maintained diplomatic, political, and economic relations with the Kuomintang regime on Taiwan, concluded a mutual security treaty with Taiwan, by which it pledged to defend Taiwan and the Pescadores. Until October 1971, Taiwan illegally occupied the seat of the PRC at the United Nations.

    In a statement issued in December 1978, concurrently with the American-Chinese communiqué on the establishment of diplomatic relations between the United States and the Chinese People&rsquos Republic, the United States notified Taiwan that diplomatic relations would be discontinued as of Jan. 1, 1979.

    Richard C. Bush

    Nonresident Senior Fellow - Foreign Policy, Center for East Asia Policy Studies, John L. Thornton China Center

    The second instance was the immediate postwar era. In January 1946, the People’s Political Consultative Conference, at which all political parties including the CCP were represented, passed resolutions recognizing the national leadership of Chiang Kai-shek and calling for the writing of a new constitution, pending which a coalition government would be created. In February 1946, the KMT and the CCP reached an agreement which would integrate the communist armies into the national army. Of course, these agreements quickly fell apart in a climate of deep mutual mistrust. But their working assumption was that the CCP acknowledged and accepted – at least temporarily – the legal authority of the ROC government.

    The end result of the two sides’ unwillingness to coexist and cooperate was what we usually call the Chinese civil war. I find that the term civil war is striking for its political and legal neutrality. It suggests that the combatant forces in the conflict somehow appeared out of thin air and started fighting. That may be true in some cases, but what usually happens is that a rebel group takes up arms against the established government. That government may be weak it may not command much legitimacy. Yet it is still the government.

    Consider the American example. We now refer to the conflict that began 150 years ago last month as the American civil war. But that was not the name that the Lincoln Administration used. The most common name then and for years thereafter – at least in the North – was “the war of rebellion.” The South, of course, called it something else: “war of secession” or “war of independence.” But as far as the national government was concerned, the South was in rebellion and it was the task of the national government to suppress that rebellion.

    Similarly, what we call the Chinese civil war is, in essence, the CCP’s violent rebellion against the national government, which happened to be ruled by the Nationalist Party (the KMT). The latter enjoyed international recognition as the government of the Republic of China, and, as I have explained, even the Communists temporarily accepted that status. And just because the rebels won control of the Chinese mainland does not, in my view, negate the existence of that government. At least conceptually, the burden of proof should be on the CCP regime to justify its status rather than on the ROC to refute the allegations of its demise.

    Note also that Beijing uses its unyielding claim that the Taiwan Strait issue is an internal to reserve the right justify to use force to resolve it. Note also the curious phenomenon that since the 1950s, Beijing has sought to convince Americans that Taiwan’s continued separation is analogous to the American civil war, with the Mainland as the North and Taiwan as the South. Ironically, however, Beijing has the roles reversed. If anyone in the 1940s was analogous to Lincoln, it was Chiang Kai-shek. Mao Zedong was China’s Jefferson Davis.

    There is an argument that because the KMT government continued to claim that it was the government of all of China even after it retreated to Taiwan even though it doesn’t, its existence as a legal government is not valid. From the beginning, the ROC was jurisdictionally challenged. Territorial ambiguity was a constant feature of the ROC. With the possible exception of the early rule of Yuan Shikai, the government of the ROC—whether before 1928 or after—never had jurisdiction of all the territory it claimed. So the fact that the ROC on Taiwan constitutionally claims far more than it controls is neither new nor undermines the idea that it is a sovereign state.

    One China or Two

    The PRC government has consistently held asserted that there is one China in the world, which it represents, and rejected the idea that there might be two Chinas. Chiang Kai-shek took the same position, as he colorfully put it, “There can be no compromise between the legitimate government and a rebel group.” (Note Chiang’s use of the government-rebel frame here.) He of course asserted that the ROC was the sole, legitimate government of China. And within this consensus that there was one China, the two capitals battled over membership in international organizations and diplomatic partnerships. This was a battle that the PRC has by and large won.

    But the fact of the battle, and the fact that both governments had taken a one-China begs the question of whether that is the only option. Or does international law permit and alternative, less zero-sum solution? Whether Beijing and Taipei would accept such a solution is another issue, but the conceptual question is worth asking.

    Now it happens that the United States thought long and hard about the Republic of China in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Washington was committed to preserving the ROC’s membership in United Nations, but decolonization was creating a number of new UN members, and they tended to side with Beijing’s claim to China’s seat. Drawing on international law, American diplomats came up with two theories to justify keeping the ROC in the UN.

    The first was the “new state” theory. As one State Department official described it: The ROC “is an original and continuing member of UN, that has lost control over major portions of its territory, that the PRC has established itself as a government in that former territory, that the PRC has the attributes of sovereignty and is [therefore] eligible for membership in the UN.”

    The second theory was the “successor state” theory. That is, “the 1945 country of China has been succeed by two States – one large and one small – and that these have both automatically succeeded to membership in the General Assembly.”

    These two theories remained just that – theories. They were also tactical devices to create terms for PRC entry that Beijing would be sure to reject. As it was, Chiang Kai-shek rejected a two-China solution until it was too late, and in October 1971, the General Assembly, as it put it, restored the PRC’s rights and position in the UN, recognized its representatives as the “only legitimate representatives of China,” and expelled “the representatives of Chiang Kai-shek.”

    My only point is that the international fate of the ROC was only one of several possible conceptual outcomes. And the sort of creativity that American diplomats demonstrated is available in cross-Strait relations – should Beijing be willing to exercise it.


    The question today, for which the ROC is highly relevant, is the legal and political status of Taiwan and its government authorities. Is it a sovereign entity in any significant way The PRC view, as I read it, is “no.” The Taiwan view has been most assuredly yes.

    Now sovereignty is a complicated concept, and it’s necessary to distinguish different dimensions. In my book, Untying the Knot, I identify four.

    For our purposes, two are relevant. One is international legal sovereignty, that is, whether a government and the people under its jurisdiction may participate in the international system, including through diplomatic relations with other countries and membership in organizations like the United Nations that by charter are open to states only.

    The other is called Westphalian sovereignty, which refers to independence vis-à-vis outside parties and non-subordination to them. The issue here is whether the governing authorities of a particular territory, however they are organized, have the absolute right to rule within their domain. Now those authorities may choose to limit their powers through treaties with other actors or to delegate some to international organizations, but they do so voluntarily.

    When it comes to international sovereignty, as I just described, the ROC represented the state called “China” in the international system through the 1960s but has since fought a losing battle with the PRC over diplomatic relations with third countries and membership in international organizations.

    When it comes to Westphalian sovereignty, which is the issue of the last three decades, there are really two questions. One is whether the geographic territory of Taiwan is a legally part of China, and, if it is, how. It is on this second issue that the ROC becomes important.

    There is a minority view on Taiwan that goes under the term “Taiwan Independence.” That is, island isn’t part of China at all and it should be a separate state and full member of the international community, preferably with the name the Republic of Taiwan. But for political and security reasons, that is a minority view.

    The debate within the majority is whether Taiwan should consider uniting with China, and on what terms. About a half of the public prefers the status quo and would like to kick the can down the road.

    But a great majority believes two other things: first of all that the Hong Kong formula for uniting with China (called one country, two systems) is unacceptable and that the ROC is a sovereign state. It is the existence of and association with the ROC that makes the Hong Kong formula so unacceptable.

    Now there are some complex issues here related to the territory over which the ROC government claims to be sovereign, but I don’t have time to go into them. My key point is that the PRC approach to resolving the fundamental dispute with Taiwan is not the only option. Beijing’s preferred outcome is a national union in which it is the exclusive sovereign and entities like Taiwan have autonomy but they are still subordinate. But there are a variety of political unions which accommodate what you might call dual sovereignty or shared sovereignty. They are not easy to create or maintain. No existing arrangement is necessarily a good model for China and Taiwan. But these arrangements do exist.

    To sum up, the facts that the government on Taiwan can trace a historical lineage all the way back to January 1, 1912 that the Republic of China was the successor state to the Qing dynasty and that it ruled somewhere continuously thereafter and to this day, gives it a standing vis-à-vis Beijing that no other relevant political entity possesses – neither Hong Kong, nor Macau, nor any province of the PRC (Tibet is more complicated but still different). That Beijing claims that it is the sole successor state to the ROC does not make it true (and after all, it has a vested interest in making that claim). As we have seen, regime change need not produce a single successor state. And, as we have also seen, the historical lineage that the PRC can claim is to an armed party that rebelled against that ROC government. In my humble opinion, therefore, unless the PRC is willing to address and accommodate the reality of the ROC, it will never achieve its political objectives.

    Watch the video: Οι TOP 10 Πιο ΕΠΙΚΙΝΔΥΝΟΙ ΔΡΟΜΟΙ στον Κόσμο. TopTenGR (August 2022).