A History Of The Chinese Taiwan Conflict | Happy Student Education ™

A History of the Chinese Taiwan Conflict

Article Category Parents | Principals | Schools | Technology
Published April 20, 2021


The League of Nations

To give you some context on A History of the Chinese Taiwan Conflict, we starting from World War II and its impact on China in Modern times. The League of Nations, first developed from Woodrow Wilson’s ideas, served as a mediator during the conflicts leading to World War II.

The purpose of the League of Nations after World War I was to maintain peace and develop a set of international laws governing influencing the development of warfare. For instance, “The League of Nations was an organization created by the Treaty of Versailles.

The idea was that the League would become the world’s ‘police’ and enforce peace in Europe”1(H2G2) nevertheless, during the outbreak of World War II the League of Nations was silent. For the most part, the League of Nations was ignored.

However, considering the political tension throughout the world during the late 1930s and early 1940s there was very little the League of Nations could have done. In addition, “The main cause of the Second World War was the First World War” that ultimately turned into change a domino effect.

The United Nations

In the end, the League of Nations failed to serve its purpose thus “In 1945, representatives of 50 countries met in San Francisco at the United Nations Conference on International Organization to draw up the United Nations Charter”.2 (Unpaged) The Charter of the United Nations was a treaty signed by a council of 50 nations that later became nearly two hundred nations.

The main body of the United Nations is the Security Council is led by Russia, the United States, Great Britain, China, and France which hold permanent seats with veto power. In the League of Nations, every nation possesses veto power therefore very little progress was achieved.

Yet, the five permanent members of the Security Council can manipulate decisions in their favor. The War on Iraq by the United States epitomizes how the U.S the most powerful U.N member may start a war without any U.N sanctions.

During the Cold War, the United Nations once again remained silent. Both the United States and the Soviet Union played by their own rules with little intervention by the United Nations nor the international community.

Both the U.S and the USSR acted based on their own interested. For instance, “The Cold War was a term coined to describe the state of tension that developed between the nations of the West and those of the Communist world shortly after the end of the Second World War”.292

Nevertheless, with little U.N intervention, the Cold War ended on the Soviet collapse. Ultimately, the Atomic bomb was never used during the Cold War simply because both parties were afraid of the repercussion.

The key to collective security was the Security Council policing their respective areas. Therefore, during the Cold War, the United States took it upon itself to example collective security by invading South Korea to protect it from the North. Subsequently, NATO was formed in an effort to effectively police Europe and the continent of possible military conflict.

The main idea behind the policing of the continent was collective security which every nation desired. Upon the fall of the USSR, the United States became the sole world superpower changing the scope of the Security Council and its five members.

If I were one of the members during the creating of the United Nations Charter during the development of the Cold War I would have added various safeguards in addition to the Security Council. For instance, although it would be very unlikely, a safeguard during the Cold War or any other event in history would be the outlaw or even international intervention of any kind of dictatorship government.

Throughout history, most wars are initiated by dictators in search of glory. The Soviets, the Nazis, and Napoleon are good examples. IN order to achieve this, I would have a branch within the U.N lead by the democratic nations willing to provide military resources ready to defeat any developing dictatorship.

The Republic of China

The Republic of China was a founding member of the United Nations signing the original UN charter in San Francisco in 1945 and became one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council.[8] As a result of the Chinese Civil War in 1949, the emergence of two governments within China created a serious problem for the UN.

A decision had to be made on whether the People’s Republic of China (PRC) based on mainland China in Beijing or the Republic of China in Taipei, Taiwan be allowed membership in the UN. The PRC fought to remove Taiwan from the UN finally accomplishing this in 1971.[9]

The UN has been in the middle of this dispute since the civil war in China ended in 1949 and this dispute still is unresolved today.

The Membership in the United Nations in accordance with its charter open to all “peace-loving states” that accept the obligations contained in the United Nations charter and in the judgment of the Organization are able to carry out these obligations.

In addition, states are admitted to membership in the UN by the decision of the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council of the UN.[10]

The issue of who should represent China in the UN was first offered in a draft resolution in 1950 by the Soviet Union in the Security Council. The Soviets suggested that the credentials of the ROC representative be rejected. They believe the ROC did not have the right to represent China in the UN because they had lost control of mainland China.

More questions on the validity of the ROC representation surfaced later in 1950 when the UN Secretary-General Trygve Lie publically stated that the representation problem in the UN was linked to China’s representative being approved by the member states in the UN.

This Chinese problem was the first of its kind for the UN. It was the first time that two rival governments existed in the same country and were both seeking to be seated in the UN.[11]

There was an increasing sentiment in the UN that the PRC should replace the ROC as the legitimate representative of China. Up until 1960, these efforts were always blocked by UN resolutions being adopted to postpone this matter. With the increase of new members in the UN after 1960, it became increasingly difficult for the Western powers to control the UN and its voting. [12]

The UN considered this subject extremely important. Throughout the 1960s, there was talk of expelling the ROC but it was not successful.

The expulsion required a two-thirds majority. It became very difficult for the United States, which had supported the Chiang Kai-shek regime in the ROC for over twenty years, to fend off other member Nations’ attempts to install the PRC as the Chinese representative.

Most of these nations believed that the PRC was effectively controlling the territory of China and should be installed as the representative to the UN. [13]

Efforts to reach a compromise and hold a seat for Taiwan, the United States offered a Security Council seat for the PRC so that both could be in the UN at once.

This was rejected by both Chinese governments. The PRC had always believed in the “One China Policy” and they were the controlling party in China. They saw Taiwan as an extension of the mainland. Taiwan believed that the ROC should be representative of all of China.[14]

When it was determined in October of 1971 that a majority vote was no longer needed under Article 18, the tide was turned totally against the ROC.

Resolution 2758 was passed replacing Taiwan and the ROC with China and the PRC. No two-thirds majority was required nor was the recommendation of the Security Council.[15]

The PRC sees Taiwan as part of mainland China but Taiwan measures up well to the qualifications of its own sovereign state. To this day, the PRC awaits the reunification of the island of Taiwan with the mainland but Taiwan adamantly refutes this and views itself as an independent state.

Taiwan meets and exceeds most criteria as a sovereign state. It has its own distinct borders and is home to over 23 million people. The Taiwanese economy is thriving and its GDP is in the top 30 in the world. It has a good infrastructure with an established education system and supports transportation systems and public services to citizens. [16]

Taiwan gave support for the independence of the Serbian province of Kosovo.  China told since they were not a sovereign state, they have no right to give that support. [17]

The question of sovereign status is only partially met mostly due to the influence of mainland China throughout the world. As of 2007, Taiwan was only recognized by 25 other countries and since 1979 has not been recognized by the United States. [18]

The question continues about whether Taiwan should be re-instated to the UN. There is precedence for it. East and West Germany were both admitted to the UN, first as observers and then as full members. North and South Korea is another example.[19]

Despite all their differences, Taiwan and China do work together for economic purposes. In 2001, China entered the World Trade Organization (WTO). Taiwan also entered as “Chinese Taipei.” There is significant trade between the two. Banks, insurers, and other financial services invest and work for both. [20]

In 2009, Taiwan was admitted as an observer at the World Health Assembly under the name “Chinese Taipei”. China did not object. This was the first time Taiwan was given observer status at a United Nations body since it lost its seat.[21]

Despite these cooperative relations, the future for Taiwan and its bid to become a member of the UN is clouded. The growing global power of Communist China controls many of the decisions made on Taiwan’s future.

Taiwan recognizes it needs support from the United States. In 1971, the United States supported “Two China”. [22] But in 1979, Jimmy Carter terminated diplomatic relations with the ROC and took the position of one China with Taiwan as part of China.

Nevertheless, the United States has been a significant source of Taiwan’s arms purchases. From 2003 to 2006, the United States sold $4.1 billion in arms to Taiwan.[23]

The United States still does not recognize Taiwan as separate. It is difficult for the United States to side against the PRC when China is the biggest investor in US-backed bonds and is by far the biggest financier in their debt.  The United States do not want any negative impact on their business. [24]

The Chinese civil war

The Chinese civil war initiated in 1927 as a political dispute between the Republic of China (ROC) and the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The dispute originated amidst the rise to power of the Communist party in China led by Mao Zedong (1893 –1976).[1] The Communist Party (PRC) was successful in overtaking the Republican forces and driving them out of mainland China.

What began as a civil war and an internal dispute between Chinese parties has now become a prolonged governmental dispute between two nations that symbolized one nation.

How has the United States, or The United Nations not been able to diplomatically resolve this issue that one day may become ground for a full-blown regional war that may drag the entire world into a World War III?

During World War II the United States and their allies sought to bring peace to Asia in an effort to form a strong front against the Empire of Japan.

Therefore, a swift resolution was important since World War II was a priority to the allies and China. As a result, “The wartime policy of the United States was initially to help China become a strong ally and a stabilizing force in postwar Asia.

As the conflict between the Nationalists and the Communists intensified, however, the United States sought unsuccessfully to reconcile the rival forces for a more effective anti-Japanese war effort.”[2] However, the American efforts were fruitless.

When World War II came to the United States did not make any progress towards an effective resolution. By 1946 the United States, under the Harry S. Truman administration, set forth a strong effort into the Chinese civil fearing the imminent Communist victory and rule over the entire nation.

The United States provided funds to the Republican government and push for a peaceful resolution.[3] In addition, the United States sent a commission led by the legendary George Marshall to mediate peaceful diplomatic talks.

Nevertheless, months of handwork proved pointless as both parties were unwilling to compromise. For instance, “Unfortunately for Marshall, neither the Communists… nor [Republican]…representatives were willing to compromise on certain fundamental issues … Battles between Nationalists and Communists soon resumed.

The truce fell apart in the spring of 1946, although negotiations continued.”[4] By 1950 the Communist party completely ruled mainland China.

As a result, the Kuomintang (KMT)) government-controlled Taiwan, their last stronghold against the Communist government of the PRC.

Taiwan (ROC) maintained its independence even though mainland china affirmed Taiwan as part of the People’s Republic of China and not an independent state. Nevertheless, Kuomintang (KMT)) government in exile in Taiwan took complete control of the political spectrum of Taiwanese politics and ruled the state for several decades imposing harsh limitations on the ethnic people of Taiwan.

For instance, “it’s often [the KMT] harsh rule included discriminatory laws against ethnic Taiwanese and nearly forty years of martial law, which was finally lifted in 1987. The KMT has historically seen Taiwan as a part of “one China” that would eventually be reunited under Nationalist rule”.[5]

The drive of the KMT was mostly the idea of one China but rightfully govern by the Republic of China. However, over the years the main idea and purpose of the KMT gradually shifted. Now they are driven by three principles; no unification, no independence, and no use of force.[6]

The people of Taiwan have gradually countered the KMT government and founded the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in 1986 to release the power grip hold by the KMT made of only Chinese. Henceforth, the DDP came to power and ease the current political situation initiated the KMT, and subsequently stabilized the state.

The principal idea held by DPP Taiwanese president Chen Shui-Bian, and shared by the people of Taiwan, is total independence from mainland China.[7]

Although the dispute is peaceful and often peaceful talks take place, the current situation is far from resolved. The United States and the United Nations have played an important part in diplomatic talks. However, mixed views between the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of China have prevailed in slowing the process of reconsolidation.

Ultimately the Communist party led by their revolutionary leader Mao Zedong was victorious. The forces pushed the Republican forces out of mainland China. The Republican Party, now Taiwan, is protected by the American military umbrella although a possible war often seems imminent.

Now both China and Taiwan share a very prosperous economy; although China is immensely powerful compared to Taiwan. In the end, the resolution of this conflict lies in the hands of the world community led by mostly the United States and the United Nations. The questions to be answered are; how can the United States and the United Nations please both China and Taiwan? What role would China and Taiwan play as members of the United Nations?             


Kang, David, Q&A: The dispute between China and Taiwan; Stanford University, appeared in New York Times, November 22, 2005.

http://aparc.stanford.edu/news/the_dispute_between_china_and_taiwan_20051129/ accessed 09/15/2012

Shlapak David A., Orletsky David T., Reid Toy I., and Tanner Murray Scot; A Question of Balance: Political Context and Military Aspects of the China-Taiwan Dispute (2009) (Rand Corporation Monograph) (Jul 31, 2009)

Brown, Michael E., Ganguly, Fighting Words: Language Policy and Ethnic Relations in Asia

Sumit Date: 2003 Apus Library

William J. Duiker and Jackson J. Spielvogel World History, Volume II Dec 29, 2008

Brown Melissa J.; Is Taiwan Chinese? The Impact of Culture, Power, and Migration on Changing Identities (Berkeley Series in Interdisciplinary Studies of China) (Feb 4, 2004)

Cossa Ralph; Looking behind Ma’s ‘three noes’ Mon, Jan 21, 2008

http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/editorials/archives/2008/01/21/2003398185 accessed 09/15/2012

Chinese Civil War Global Security

http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/ops/chinese-civil-war.htm accessed 09/16/2012

Jonathan Spence Mao Zedong: A Life (A Penguin Life)

References (Jeffrey Whitlock)

About UN Membership. Accessed September 2, 2012, http://www.un.org/en/members/about.shtml

Gettings, John, and Rowen, Beth. “Timeline Taiwan”. Information please. 2007. Accessed August 23, 2012, http://www.infoplease.com/spot/taiwantime1.html

Huang, Eric Ting-Lun. “Taiwan’s Status in a Changing World: United Nations Representation and Membership for Taiwan”. Annual Survey of International & Comparative Law: Vol 9: Iss. 1, Article 4. 2003. Accessed September 3, 2012, http://digitalcommons.law.ggu.edu/annlsurvey/vol9/iss1/4.

Roberge, Michal and Lee, Youkyung. “China-Taiwan Relations”. Council on Foreign Relations. August 11, 2009. Accessed August 20, 2012, http://www.cfr.org/china/china-taiwan-relations/p9223.

Rosenberg, Matthew. “Is Taiwan a Country?” About.com Geography. July 9, 2010. Accessed September 5, 2012, http://geography.about.com/od/politicalgeography/a/taiwancountry.htm

“Taiwan seeks United Nations membership. China and the U.S. say: “No way!”. SFGATE. N.D. Accessed September 5 http://blog.sfgate.com/worldviews/2008/02/26/taiwan-seeks-united-nations-membership-china-and-the-u-s-say-no-way/.

“Taiwan’s UN Dilemma: To be or Not to be”. Brookings. Taiwan-U.S. Quarterly Analysis: Number 9 of 10. June 2012. Accessed August 23. 2012


[1] Jonathan Spence P. 120

[2] Global Security P. 7

[3] Shlapak David A., Orletsky David T., Reid Toy I. and Tanner Murray Scot P. 81

[4] Global Security P. 10

[5] David Kang P.2

[6] Cossa Ralph P.1

[7] David Kang P.3

[8] About UN Membership

[9] John Gettings and Beth Rowen

[10] About UN Membership

[11] Eric Ting-Lun Huang, 78-79.

[12] Eric Ting-Lun Huang, 80-81

[13] About UN Membership

[14] Taiwan’s UN Dilemma: To Be or Not to Be

[15] Eric Ting-Lun Huang, 82

[16] Matt Rosenburg

[17] Taiwan seeks United Nations membership. China and the U.S. say: “No way!”

[18] Matt Rosenburg

[19] Eric Ting-Lun Huang, 96

[20] Michal Roberge and Youkyung Lee

[21] IBID.

[22] John Gettings and Beth Rowen

[23] Michal Roberge and Youkyung Lee

[24] Taiwan seeks United Nations membership. China and the U.S. say: “No way!”

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