Secretary of State Antony Blinken supported Taiwan's participation in the United Nations system in a statement Tuesday. File Photo by Yuri Gripas/UPI | License Photo
Oct. 26 (UPI) -- The United States on Tuesday backed Taiwan re-entering the United Nations on the heels of the anniversary of its formal expulsion 50 years ago.
The People's Republic of China celebrated Monday the 50th anniversary of the vote on the United Nations Resolution 2758, adopted on Oct. 25, 1971, which declared that the People's Republic of China as "the only lawful representatives of China to the United Nations."
The vote removed China's seat in the world body from the Republic of China, the nationalist government that fled to the island of Taiwan, which now has a population of 24 million, after losing the Chinese war in 1949 and awarded it the mainland's communist government.
"Taiwan has become a democratic success story," said U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a statement Tuesday. "Its model supports transparency, respect for human rights, and rule of law -- values that align with those of the United Nations."
"Taiwan's meaningful participation in the U.N. system is not a political issue, but a pragmatic one," he added.
While resolution 2758 initially concerned U.N. representation, it has been interpreted to support China's claims to Taiwan and isolate the democracy internationally, Seton Hall University Law School professor Margaret Lewis told Al Jazeera.
"The PRC government has, as a practical matter, been effective in blocking Taiwan's participation in U.N.-affiliated entities, but this is not dictated by Resolution 2758: the resolution is about representation, not participation," Lewis said. "Meaningful engagement by Taiwan in U.N. affiliated entities is consistent with the letter and spirit of Resolution 2758."
Despite the removal of its seat from the world body, Blinken said that Taiwan has "participated robustly in certain U.N. specialized agencies for the vast majority of the past 50 years," until recently.
In particular, Taiwan has recently not been allowed to participate in the International Civil Aviation Organization, and was absent from the World Health Assembly, Blinken noted.
"Members of civil society from around the world engage every day in activities at the United Nations, but Taiwan's scientists, technical experts, business persons, artists, educators, students, human rights advocates, and others are blocked from entry and participating in these activities simply because of the passports they hold," Blinken said.
"Taiwan's exclusion undermines the important work of the United Nations and its related bodies, all of which stand to benefit greatly from its contributions," he added. "We need to harness the contributions of all stakeholders toward solving our shared challenges. That is why we encourage all U.N. Member States to join us in supporting Taiwan's robust, meaningful participation throughout the U.N. system and in the international community, consistent with our "One China" policy."
The United States switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1979 under the "One China" policy.
Still, the United States has unofficial relations with Taipei, including providing defensive and military resources to the island, creating friction in U.S.-China relations, The Hill reported.
U.S. officials had announced Saturday that talks had begun about expanding Taiwan's participation in the United Nations, which communist authorities criticized.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin urged the United States on Monday to "stop official contact with Taiwan" and to "refrain from sending wrong signals to the Tawian independence forces in any form."
Earlier this month, China called on the United States to withdraw troops from Taiwan and uphold its commitment under the 1979 One China agreement.
China views Taiwan as a breakaway province and earlier this month Chinese President XI Jinping called for reunification with Taiwan, but Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen said her government would not "bow to pressure" from Beijing.
Recently, Taiwan and the United States have expressed concerns about incursions into Taiwanese airspace by Chinese military aircraft.
Earlier this year, Beijing increased its military presence in the Taiwan Strait to send a message against support for the island's independence. Chinese Defense officials said they would "take all necessary measures to resolutely thwart" Taiwan independence attempts.