Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei has given us much to talk about, to understand it we must take into account how Taiwan’s relations have developed bilaterally and multilaterally.

In 2020, the American Congress passed the so-called “TAIPEI Act”, stressing the importance of Taiwan as a strategic partner, not only in commercial and economic aspects but also in seeking Taiwan’s inclusion in international organizations, which is more important today than at any time since the mid-20th century. The government of President Tsai Ing-wen took the global emergency caused by the COVID-19 pandemic as an example to advocate for the nation’s inclusion in international cooperation bodies, specifically but not limited to the World Health Organization, highlighting the importance of joint work and interdependence, to more effectively combat the ravages caused by the Coronavirus. The TAIPEI Act is seen as a continuation of the “Taiwan Relations Act”, enacted by the US Congress in 1979, as an alternative way to promote trade between the two nations, after the Jimmy Carter administration continued the policy of rapprochement with the People’s Republic of China began during the Richard Nixon administration, and recognized the Maoist government as the legitimate representative of China; it was then decided to channel relations with Taiwan through “commercial” but de facto diplomatic representative offices, including consular services. In economic matters, the United States continues to be one of Taiwan’s main partners, but more importantly, Congress is committed to continuing to offer support in security and defense matters, implementing a policy labeled as “strategic ambiguity” that aims to consolidate Taiwan’s security without provoking the government of mainland China, it is due to the leadership assumed by the US Congress on this issue, that the political exchange between Taiwan and the US is mainly carried through parliamentary delegations.

This paradigm shift in American diplomacy goes hand in hand with the changes that took place within the UN in the early 1970s. At the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949, the main leaders of the Republic of China were defeated and went into exile on the island of Formosa (Taiwan) where they remained and called themselves “The legitimate government of all China”, the Republic of China then maintained China’s representation in all organs of the United Nations.

The Western powers allowed Taiwan to continue to play this role within the organization for 25 years, despite the Maoist government gaining stability in mainland China, but in 1971 the UN General Assembly passed Resolution 2758, recognizing the PRC as the legitimate government of China, which was not only detrimental to Taiwan’s position in the Security Council, the Republic of China (Taiwan) was completely excluded from the United Nations, including all of its affiliated bodies.

Should Taiwan return to the UN? Is U.S. diplomacy towards Taiwan considered formal or informal? Can Taiwan act at all in the UN context?

 

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