Reading Wang Yi's UN Address on Taiwan
2022-09-27 04:20 United Daily News
Author: Lin Man-houng, Adjunct Research Fellow, Institute of Modern History, Academia Sinica
On September 24, Wang Yi participated in the general debate of the 77th Session of the UN General Assembly. His following comments on Taiwan from the debate and the day prior should be discussed and anticipated:
1. "Since ancient time, Taiwan has been an inseperable part of Chinese territory." Wang Yi made this statement in his comments at the General Assembly. However, Emperor Yongzheng of the Qing dynasty clearly stated that before Emperor Kangxi conquered Taiwan, "Taiwan had never belonged to China since antiquity" (Veritable Records of Qing Emperor Shizong).
2. "China has always advocated that it should take the lead in abiding by international law." Wang Yi made this statement prior to addressing the General Assembly. Sovereignty over Taiwan has been transferred twice since Qing rule. The first time was the Qing government’s cession of full sovereignty over Taiwan and Penghu to Japan in 1895 through the Treaty of Shimonoseki. The second was the Taipei Peace Treaty, signed between the Republic of China and Japan in 1952. This treaty transferred sovereignty over Taiwan and Penghu to the Republic of China, which had already relocated to Taiwan. The return of Hong Kong in 1997 was carried out under the 1898 Convention between the United Kingdom and China, Respecting an Extension of Hong Kong Territory. How the People's Republic of China treats the Republic of China is a litmus test for whether it will lead in abiding by international law.
3. "China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity have never been severed." Wang Yi stressed this during the UN General Assembly. On March 2, 1895, the American diplomat Charles Denby Jr. issued a telegram, forwarding the message that the Japanese decided to hold negotiations in Shimonoseki. On March 3, Prince Qing sent a memorial to Empress Dowager Cixi, which reads, "Considering the present situation, maintenance of the imperial state should be prioritized against holding the borderlands. The benefit of the former greatly outweighs the harm of the latter. There's no need for further accounting." In early 1949, banknotes bearing “38th Year of the Republic of China” with Mao Zedong's visage were circulated in CCP-occupied areas. So China is of course an important factor in deciding whether there are "two Chinas" or "one China and one Taiwan."
4. "Resolution 2758 expelled representatives of the Taiwanese authorities from UN seats they 'illegally occupied.'" Resolution 2758 deals with the issue of whether the Republic of China on Taiwan could continue to represent mainland China, not how to handle Taiwanese authorities. The reason that the Republic of China on Taiwan still represented mainland China before Resolution 2758 was earlier illegal acts by the People's Republic of China. The government of the Republic of China moved to Taiwan in 1949, but it was because this government partook in the Declaration by United Nations proclaiming war on the Axis powers in 1942 that China could share in the Allied victory of World War II and participate in the creation of the United Nations. This was the basis of the UN arrangements.
5. "Resolution 2758 completely resolved the issue of Taiwan's representation." So Wang Yi believes. In 1971, when Resolution 2758 was passed, Taiwan and mainland China were already separately governed for 22 years. The government of the Republic of China obtained sovereignty over Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen, Matsu and their appertaining islands through the Taipei Peace Treaty, registered as No. 1858 of the United Nations Treaty Series. This treaty was signed according to Articles II, IV, and XXVI of the San Francisco Peace Treaty. According to the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, the sovereignty established by the Taipei Peace Treaty does not change due to severance of diplomatic ties or withdrawal from the UN. The UN Charter does not contain provisions authorizing member states to withdraw from the UN unilaterally. Re-examination in the UN General Assembly of the 1971 Resolution 2758, which resolved only what government should represent the Chinese mainland not Taiwan in the UN, and the return of the rights and obligations of UN membership that the Republic of China on Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu should possess would be of epochal significance.
6. "China will continue to work for peaceful reunification with the greatest sincerity and efforts." This is Wang Yi's appeal. East and West Germany were both in the United Nations before their unification. The Republic of Korea and the People's Republic of Korea are both currently members of the United Nations. Article III in the English version of the Constitution of the Republic of Korea is "The territory of the Republic of Korea shall consist of the Korean peninsula and its adjacent islands." "Shall consist of" in the English version expresses a kind of intentionality. The intention to unify the two Koreas is not in conflict with their respective and specifically bound territories. The Constitution of the People's Republic of China states, “Taiwan is part of the sacred territory of the People’s Republic of China. It is the inviolable duty of all Chinese people, including our compatriots in Taiwan, to accomplish the great task of reunifying the motherland.” This also expresses a kind of intentionality. Mutual respect between each side of the Strait for their respective territories is an important foundation for peaceful unification.
Published in United Daily on 20220_9_27 (Public Opinion Forum) (A13)