Beijing’s Sway Over the UN Thwarts Taiwan Membership

October 29, 2021 Updated: October 29, 2021


The Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) influence over the United Nations is used overwhelmingly to weaken support for Taiwan around the world.

In 1971, China was a backward, agrarian-based totalitarian country that could neither feed itself nor offer much to the world. Its primary mode of transportation was the bicycle, and in its self-isolation it had almost no influence in global affairs. It was too busy perpetrating the Cultural Revolution that would continue to tear the country apart for another five years.

The US Helped China Rejoin the World

Nonetheless, the most powerful nation on Earth, the United States, led the way for an impoverished China to join the U.N. and gain a seat on the U.N. Security Council. There were both geopolitical and economic reasons behind that decision. Regardless, U.N. membership certainly gave the communist regime, which had run the country into the ground, a much-needed boost in legitimacy.

Not only was it helpful in the subsequent opening of China to Western investment, but it also gave new legitimacy to the communist movement—the very forces we were fighting against in Vietnam and more broadly in the Cold War. Thus, ushering China into the U.N. dealt a serious blow to America’s anti-communist reputation and its policy of containment, as well as the defender of Western civilization and democratic values. The U.N. would also become less pro-West as time passed.

Hurting Our Ally Taiwan

But the immediate consequence was that, after more than 20 years as a pro-American member of that body, Taiwan not only lost its seat on the permanent Security Council to the communists in Beijing, but was demoted. The world’s most prestigious governing body no longer considered it a sovereign nation.

Fifty years later, of course, the Chinese regime is now a global economic and military force. But it’s also the world’s largest dictatorship, built on slave labor and bereft of civil rights. It also holds millions of religious and political prisoners, subjecting them to torture, deprivation, and even organ harvesting.

Taiwan: A Model Nation

Meanwhile, Taiwan remains the only free Chinese nation, a thriving republic with a fully functioning market economy. It holds free elections. It is a global leader in semiconductor technology and manufacturing, and has numerous trade agreements with nations around the world.

Furthermore, Taiwan enjoys membership in 40 regional and international organizations, from the World Trade Organization to the Asian Development Bank and the Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum. It also holds observer status in several other organizations.

Epoch Times Photo
Ambassador Abraham Wen-Shang Chu gives thumbs up to one package of the 20,000 surgical masks donated by Taiwan to help Orange County combat the COVID-19 pandemic in Santa Ana, Calif., on June 16, 2020. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Perhaps just as importantly, Taiwan demonstrated the world’s most effective response to the pandemic and freely helped other nations to do the same, donating millions of masks and other medical supplies to European and Asian nations. Concurrently, the CCP was denying culpability for the disease and its spread, while hoarding supplies and allowing its people to travel freely around the world.

Taiwan is, in fact and deed, a sovereign nation, and a model one at that. And yet, it is still not recognized by the U.N.

Why would that be?

There Really Are Two Chinas

One of the main reasons is that China exerts enormous influence in the U.N. and opposes Taiwan gaining membership once again. It would demonstrate that there are two Chinas in the world–one free, the other captive.

Nonetheless, China is a huge financial contributor to the U.N., which means influence. Only the United States contributes more. Plus, China’s aggressive foreign policy, coupled with its economic clout, gives Beijing much more leverage over many smaller members, especially those within or in neighboring regions that want or feel it prudent to cooperate with China.

A clear example of this is China filling the void in the U.N. Human Rights Council, which was left behind when the United States withdrew its participation under the Trump administration. The U.N. declaration—drafted by Cuba in support of the oppression of Hong Kong by the CCP— garnered almost twice the votes than the one drafted by the United Kingdom that condemned the abuse.

Beijing’s Growing Power

China’s foreign aid policy is another prime example. In the Asia-Pacific region, China links aid it provides to many recipients with their severing their diplomatic links to Taiwan. That is precisely the reason only 15 countries, such as the Solomon Islands, ceased diplomatic relations with Taiwan in favor of China.

China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is major source of that aid. The BRI focuses mainly on expensive infrastructure projects, for which Beijing will provide the loans to the host nation. Notably, BRI aid often results in recipients getting caught in a BRI debt trap and end up becoming an asset of China.

An even more sinister source of China’s expanding power in the U.N., and throughout the world, is through the collection of Big Data from member nations. This insidious reality is coming to fruition through the establishment of a U.N. big data research institution in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, China.

The institute’s mission is to gather and analyze data on sustainable development and climate change. China is asserting that it needs as much data as possible to deliver the right results. But experts fear that Beijing will leverage the data to further the spread of the CCP’s digital dictatorship to other nations.

China Replacing US Influence

Of course, it’s not just the U.N. where China is gaining influence. Other non-governmental organizations, such as the World Health Organization (WHO), are under Beijing’s thumb. Why else would the WHO reject Taiwan’s entry, especially in light of how well it handled the CCP virus, with only minimal deaths?

Sadly, when it comes to the U.N., even with support from the United States, Beijing has been able to block Taiwan’s bid for membership. That tells us more about the state and attitude at the U.N., and America’s loss of influence there, than it does about the CCP.

Of course, China’s animus toward Taiwan goes beyond opposition to membership in the U.N. Beijing is stridently opposing Taiwan’s request to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) as well. Their rationale remains the same complaint of there being “only one China in the world.”

But the CCP is also afraid that Taiwan’s entry into the CCTPP will strengthen ties with Japan and South Korea, two powerful democratic nations that oppose China’s totalitarian ambitions. Fortunately, Japan is in full support of Taiwan’s participation in the trade agreement. Notably, China has applied for entry as well, but as of yet, has not been approved.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

James Gorrie
James R. Gorrie is the author of “The China Crisis” (Wiley, 2013) and writes on his blog, He is based in Southern California.