Taiwan, officially known as the Republic of China (ROC), is an island separated from China by the Taiwan Strait.
Taiwan has been governed independently of China since 1949, but Beijing views the island as part of its territory. Beijing has vowed to eventually “unify” Taiwan with the mainland, using force if necessary.
Cross-strait tensions have escalated since the election of Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen in 2016. Tsai has refused to accept a formula that her predecessor, Ma Ying-jeou, endorsed to allow for increased cross-strait ties.
Is Taiwan part of China?
Beijing asserts that there is only “one China” and that Taiwan is part of it. It views the PRC as the only legitimate government of China, an approach it calls the One-China principle, and seeks Taiwan’s eventual “unification” with the mainland.
Beijing claims that Taiwan is bound by an understanding known as the 1992 Consensus, which was reached between representatives of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the Kuomintang (KMT) party that then ruled Taiwan. However, the two sides don’t agree on the content of this so-called consensus, and it was never intended to address the question of Taiwan’s legal status. For the PRC, as Chinese President Xi Jinping has stated, the 1992 Consensus reflects an agreement that “the two sides of the strait belong to one China and would work together to seek national reunification.” For the KMT, it means “one China, different interpretations,” with the ROC standing as the “one China.”
Taiwan’s KMT-drafted constitution continues to recognize China, Mongolia, Taiwan, Tibet, and the South China Sea as part of the ROC. The KMT does not support Taiwan’s independence and consistently calls for closer ties with Beijing. But in the face of recent election losses, KMT leaders have discussed whether to change the party’s stance on the 1992 Consensus.
Is Taiwan a member of the United Nations?
No. China rejects Taiwan’s participation as a member in UN agencies and other international organizations that limit membership to states. Taipei regularly protests its exclusion; the United States also pushes for Taiwan’s meaningful participation in such organizations. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Taipei criticised the World Health Organization (WHO) for giving in to Beijing’s demands and continuing to bar Taiwan—which mounted one of the world’s most effective responses to COVID-19 in the first two years of the pandemic—from attending the organization’s World Health Assembly as an observer. Ministers from the Group of Seven (G7) countries have called for Taiwan’s inclusion in WHO forums.
However, Taiwan holds member status in more than forty organizations, most of them regional, such as the Asian Development Bank and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, as well as the World Trade Organization. It holds observer or another status on several other bodies.