A Place for Taiwan at the U.N

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), June 17, 1997 | Go to article overview

A Place for Taiwan at the U.N


Editor's note: The following is excerpted from a speech by Foreign Minister John Chan of Taiwan before the European Parliament on May 22. Mr. Chan is on a private visit to the United States this week.

The Republic of China was established in 1912 after a revolution strongly motivated by a new tide of political thought in Europe. It was the First Republic in entire Asia. The ensuing 30 years for the new Republic were all turbulent and chaotic. Only after the end of World War II, the new Republic got a very short breathing period. But it was already too late, the entire nation became fully exhausted by the eight-year Sino-Japanese war from 1937 to 1945. The Chinese Communists seized the opportunity to engage a civil war against the nationalist government of KMT led by late Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek. The Communists won the war in 1949, consequently, the government of the Republic of China was then moved from the Chinese mainland to the island of Taiwan with her constitution, which was promulgated in 1947.

In 1949 when the government of the Republic of China was relocated on Taiwan, she remained the legitimate government of whole China with a majority of nations in the United Nations supporting this claim diplomatically, the number was 47 out of 59. As the membership of the U.N. grew up to exactly 100 in 1960, the number of nations which maintained diplomatic ties with the Republic of China on Taiwan was 53, still a majority of support in the world organization. Her diplomatic relations reached a peak 10 years later in 1970 with 67 nations formally recognizing her, and the membership of the U.N. was 126. Yet the following year in 1971, a drastic down-turn took place because of the change of attitude of the United States vis-a-vis her relationship with the PRC. The seat of a founding member of the U.N., the Republic of China was unprecedently replaced by a relatively young regime, the People's Republic of China which was created in 1949, 38 years junior to the ROC. . . .

There is no denial that after our forced departure from the United Nations, the Republic of China on Taiwan has become more and more isolated internationally. Yet the frustration on the international front has never hampered the iron will and firm determination of the people and government of the Republic of China to move on forward to effectively develop our economy and to enhance our democracy. . . .

We have come a long way in terms of political achievements. It was not very long ago that "Martial Law" was still in effect and minimal contacts were allowed between us and our compatriots on the Chinese mainland. In 1987, just 10 years ago, the late president Chiang Ching-kuo lifted the martial law and allowed the major opposition party - the democratic Progressive Party - to form. President Chiang also eliminated the restrictions and bans on newspapers, public assembly and demonstrations.

President Chiang's decision to lift martial law laid the foundation for a series of additional political reforms beginning in the early 1990s. President Chiang passed away in 1988, and was immediately succeeded by President Lee Teng-huei in accordance with our constitution. …

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