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1971

The U.N. seats the People’s Republic of China and expels Taiwan

In a dramatic reversal of its long-standing commitment to the Nationalist Chinese government of Taiwan, and a policy of non-recognition of the communist People’s Republic of China (PRC), America’s U.N. representatives vote to seat the PRC as a permanent member. Over American objections, Taiwan was expelled.

The reasons for the apparently drastic change in U.S. policy were not hard to discern. The United States had come to value closer relations with the PRC more than its historical commitment to Taiwan. U.S. interest in having the PRC’s help in resolving the sticky Vietnam situation; the goal of using U.S. influence with the PRC as diplomatic leverage against the Soviets; and the desire for lucrative economic relations with the PRC, were all factors in the U.S. decision. Relations with the PRC thereupon soared, highlighted by President Richard Nixon’s visit to China in 1972. Not surprisingly, diplomatic relations with Taiwan noticeably cooled, though the United States still publicly avowed that it would defend Taiwan if it were attacked.

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