China warns US of 'game-changing' consequences if it pushes to include Taiwan in the UN

·3 min read
Veterans take part in a flag raising ceremony at a former military post on Kinmen, Taiwan, the last place where there was major major fighting with China in 1958 - ANN WANG /REUTERS
Veterans take part in a flag raising ceremony at a former military post on Kinmen, Taiwan, the last place where there was major major fighting with China in 1958 - ANN WANG /REUTERS

The US has clashed with China over whether Taiwan should be included more in the United Nations system, in another sign the international community is increasingly challenging Beijing's belligerent position towards the island.

Taiwan has "no right to join the United Nations", said Ma Xiaoguang, spokesman for the Taiwan Affairs Office in Beijing, on Wednesday.

"The United Nations is an international governmental organisation composed of sovereign states," he said. "Taiwan is a part of China."

The comments came in response to Antony Blinken, the US secretary of state, calling on member states to support the island’s “robust, meaningful participation throughout the UN system.”

Calling the island a “valued partner and trusted friend,” he added on Tuesday: “Taiwan has become a democratic success story. Its model supports transparency, respect for human rights, and the rule of law – values that align with those of the United Nations.”

Mr Blinken’s statement coincided with the 50-year anniversary of UN resolution 2758, which ruled that the People’s Republic of China was the “only legitimate representative” of China at the United Nations.

Legal experts point out that the UN resolution does not address the question of Taiwan’s sovereignty or its ability to be included in UN bodies in its own right, but Beijing has increasingly pushed for an extreme interpretation, using the ruling to shut Taiwan out.

His comments reinforce the US’s position on the issue and instantly drew the ire of Beijing, which has consistently sought to isolate the territory of 23.5 million on the global stage.

Zhao Lijian, the Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, said Mr Blinken’s call violated the “one China” understanding between Beijing and Washington and sent the wrong signal to “Taiwan independence” forces.

“If the US continues to play the Taiwan card, it will surely bring game-changing and huge risks to China-US relations,” he said.

Soldiers march to position during an anti-invasion drill on the beach during the annual Han Kuang military drill in Tainan - ANN WANG /REUTERS
Soldiers march to position during an anti-invasion drill on the beach during the annual Han Kuang military drill in Tainan - ANN WANG /REUTERS

The Chinese Communist Party claims Taiwan as its own territory, even though it has never ruled there.

Taiwan functions like any other democratic country with its own elections, government, foreign policy and military.

But in recent years, Beijing has escalated its threats to invade if Taiwan does not agree to unify with China, stepping up efforts to block Taiwanese participation in global bodies and flying hundreds of warplanes into its air defence zone, mostly near the disputed Dongsha islands.

In recent months, the Biden administration has offered its “rock solid” support for Taiwan, but a recent war game by the Centre for New American Security think tank found that if China seized Dongsha, there were few options for Washington to respond without risking a major escalation.

It said the best strategy was for the US, Taiwan and other regional allies such as Japan to build a credible deterrent to prevent Beijing from making the move in the first place.

Taiwan is increasing its defence budget and purchasing more asymmetric weapons, including coastal missile defence systems, amid fears that Beijing is building up its military capabilities and rehearsing for an invasion, as early as 2025.

Joseph Wu, Taiwan's foreign minister on Tuesday told AFP that China may be ramping up tensions with Taiwan to "divert domestic attention" from an economic slowdown and power shortages.

He said any conflict between the two would be "a disaster - not only for Taiwan but also for China and the rest of the world".

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