Lecture Notes





































Taiwan is not a member of the United Nations.

Taiwan was once a member of the powerful Security Council. It represented China, despite the fact that it really only controlled the island of Taiwan. But in 1971, the General Assembly voted to give Taiwan’s seat to Mao Zedong. Thus, mainland China became a member of the Security Council, and Taiwan got kicked out.

Ever since, Taiwan has been trying to get back into the United Nations. It’s not even trying to get its old seat back—it just wants a seat in the General Assembly, like every other country in the world. It certainly deserves to be a member: It is fully independent; it has a stable government, and it has one of the most powerful economies in the world. Nonetheless, China refuses to approve Taiwan’s membership application.

China regards Taiwan to be a “renegade province.” (A renegade is a person who deserts and betrays an organization or country). China still clings to the national myth that there is only “one China,” and it vows to one day bring Taiwan back under mainland rule.

The rest of the world recognizes the reality of the situation: Since 1949, there have really been two Chinas:  

Taiwan (ROC) is currently recognized by only 23 states—a paltry number considering that Taiwan is an economic superpower. The reason is that China (PRC) refuses to maintain diplomatic relations with any nation that recognizes Taiwan (ROC). In other words, “If you’re her friend then you can’t be my friend.”

Most countries, including the United States, have recognized that it is in their own self-interest to maintain diplomatic relations with mainland China, even at the expense of tiny Taiwan.

Meanwhile, Taiwan gets left out in the cold—or at least outside the club.


Check Your Understanding

  1. Why does Taiwan “deserve” to be a member of the United Nations?
  2. What powerful country is blocking Taiwan’s membership to the United Nations?
  3. Why is the People’s Republic of China opposed to Taiwan’s membership in the United Nations?
  4. Why is it that only 23 countries officially recognize Taiwan as an independent state?