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25 October 2008

On this day in history: Peoples Republic of China admitted to United Nations, 1971

The Nationalist government of the Republic of China (ROC) was one of the founder members of the United Nations in 1945. Following their declaration the People's Republic of China (PRC) in October 1949 the victorious Communists drove the Nationalist forces from mainland China. Despite the ROC only comprising the island groups of Formosa (now Taiwan) and the Pescadores, the Nationalist government kept its membership of the UN as well as a permanent seat on the Security Council as the recognised government of the whole of China.

During the 1960s, various nations that were friendly to the PRC put pressure on the UN to replace the ROC representatives with those of Communist China. Each the People's Republic of Albania moved a resolution to do as much. On each occasion the allies of the Nationalists, taking their lead from the United States, managed to secure enough support to defeat the resolution.

As the decade progressed, the admission of new nations to the UN resulted in a shift of sympathies to Communist China. This, coupled with President Nixon's desire to normalise relations with the Beijing government, removed the barriers to the adoption of a resolution admitting the People's Republic of China. Consequently, on 25th October 1971, the UN General Assembly passed resolution 2758: 'Restoration of the lawful rights of the People's Republic of China.'

Two-thirds of the General Assembly supported the resolution, including all of the members of the Security Council except - unsurprisingly - the ROC. The resolution recognised the PRC as the legitimate government of China, granted them a place in the UN General Assembly and permanent membership of the Security Council, whilst expelling the delegates of the ROC. Since then, the Taiwanese have sought the restoration of their membership of the United Nations, but opposition from the PRC, which has the right of veto, has prevented this from happening.