Response: Taiwan is not, nor has it ever been, an independent country

Repeated moves to split from mainland China have rightly been rebuffed by the UN, says Pan Hejun

James Huang impugned the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, for his rejection of "president" Chen Shui-bian's application for Taiwan to be admitted to the United Nations (Insulting and dangerous, September 3). By accusing Ban Ki-moon of overstepping the boundaries of his power, Huang - Taiwan's so-called minister of foreign affairs - forgot an obvious fact: the UN gave its verdict on the issue of Taiwan decades ago, and the secretary general was simply performing his duty.

In 1971 the UN decided "to restore all [China's] rights to the People's Republic of China and to recognise the representatives of its government as the only legitimate representatives of China to the United Nations, and to expel forthwith the representatives of Chiang Kai-shek [Chen Shui-bian's predecessor] from the place which they unlawfully occupy at the United Nations and in all the organisations related to it". This resolution, 2758, resolved the issue of China's legal representation in the UN once and for all.

This is reinforced by the UN charter principle that only sovereign states are eligible to apply for the UN membership. Huang alleged that "Taiwan is a free and independent country". Taiwan has never been an independent country. Records of Chinese people developing Taiwan in earlier periods are found in many historical books and annals dating back more than 1,700 years. From the mid-12th century, the governments of different Chinese dynasties set up administrative bodies to exercise jurisdiction over Taiwan. The social development of Taiwan continued according to Chinese cultural traditions even during its 50-year occupation by Japan after the war of 1894. In 1945, after victory against Japan, the Chinese government restored its administrative jurisdiction in Taiwan province. On the eve of the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, the Kuomintang authorities headed by Chiang Kai-shek retreated from the mainland to Taiwan.

The reunification of Taiwan with the mainland has been an internal affair for China ever since. This is not only recorded by the 1943 Cairo declaration, the 1945 Potsdam proclamation, and other international-community documents - which have reaffirmed in unequivocal terms China's sovereignty over Taiwan under international law - but is also validated by the common practices of the UN and its members.

That is why, as Huang complains, the general committees of successive sessions of the UN general assembly since 1993 have all refused to include the so-called issue of "Taiwan's participation in the UN" in their agendas, and why the 169 UN members that have established diplomatic relations with our country all recognise that Taiwan is part of China.

Ban Ki-moon was defending the principle of respecting sovereignty and integrity and non-interference in a country's internal affairs as stipulated in the UN's charter. Huang alleges that the decision "is tantamount to placing an international political apartheid" on Taiwan. This is a sensationalist description. Taiwan secessionists are attempting to sever the geographical, historical and cultural bond between Taiwan and the mainland, and are seeking de jure independence through UN admission. That is a dangerous act, and is indeed an insult to all the Chinese people across the straits.

· Pan Hejun is minister counsellor for the Chinese embassy in the UK

Pan Hejun

The GuardianTramp

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