How a Chinese skeleton in the closet of the UN can help expel the Russian Federation from the Organization
About one “forgotten” story of the change of a permanent member of the UN Security Council
On the sidelines of the G20 summit, which recently took place on the Indonesian island of Bali, the Chinese side suddenly announced that Beijing opposed the expulsion of the Russian Federation from the UN. This position was stated by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi during a meeting with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov. Although this position of Beijing is not surprising and quite expected, the fact that this topic was publicly voiced (without obvious reasons) already indicates that Beijing and Moscow consider such a development of events as quite likely, and are preparing for it and discussing it among themselves.
Most likely, Lavrov asked the Chinese side to make such a statement to demonstrate that in case of an attempt to expel Russia from the UN, it already has at least one permanent member of the Security Council as an ally. As it is known, the UN Charter (Article 6) clearly states that a country can be expelled from the UN for systematic violations of the Charter by voting by an absolute majority of all member states of the UN General Assembly “on the recommendation of the Security Council”. This procedure makes the exclusion of a full member of the Security Council from the Organization almost impossible. But this is only at first glance.
Ukraine’s news website ZN.UA has already described and substantiated in detail that, from a formal and legal point of view, it is absolutely groundless to consider the Russian Federation a member of the UN or its Security Council. This is an important starting point. And, in principle, this reason alone is enough to demand from the UN itself (in connection with the accession procedures violated by the Russian Federation) to determine the status of its alleged member and the powers of representatives of Moscow, who illegally occupy the seat of the long-dead country –the Soviet Union. In this case, there will be no question of the country’s exclusion from the UN in accordance with the procedure prescribed in the UN Charter.
To implement such a scenario, Ukraine could use the Chinese experience – a unique case in the history of the UN, when it was possible to literally expel from the organization not just a country, but a member of the Security Council, and one of the founders of this international organization.
An Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary and long-time representative of Ukraine to the UN Volodymyr Yelchenko drew our attention to how in 1971 the Republic of China (now better known as Taiwan), which was one of the founders of the UN in 1945 and a permanent member of the Security Council, was expelled from the organization. Instead, they put in this chair the People’s Republic of China, created in 1949 by the Communists under the leadership of Mao Zedong.
“One of the experts who spoke about this incident made a rather humorous conclusion from this story, that if we go this way, we should exclude Russia and make Ukraine a member of the UN Security Council instead. We do not claim this. But in fact, this story is about how to exclude Russia. And let it apply again [for membership in the UN – ed.],” Volodymyr Yelchenko told ZN.UA. He also added: “Russia should be expelled from the UN not only because it illegally takes the place of the Soviet Union, but because it, contrary to the provisions of the UN Charter, started aggression against Ukraine.
What happened in the UN exactly 51 years ago? Then the People’s Republic of China with Beijing as its capital, which had existed for 22 years, sought admission to the UN. But the problem was that the Republic of China remained a permanent member of the Security Council, while the government of Chinese nationalists under the leadership of Chiang Kai-shek has already entrenched on the island of Taiwan after the defeat of the Communists on the mainland. This problem could not be solved until an initiative group of 17 countries led by Albania appeared at the UN, which began to “push” this issue in every possible way, demanding justice for the People’s Republic of China. The debate lasted for several months.
The United States took a tough position: in the matter of admitting the People’s Republic of China, the provisions of the UN Charter should be strictly followed – that is, to fulfill the condition, in accordance with which the Security Council recommends, and the General Assembly by a two-thirds majority vote takes such a decision. At the same time, the United States did not object to the representation of two Chinese states in the UN – the Republic of Сhina and the People’s Republic of China, but this position was categorically rejected by the latter. At the decisive moment, the other two members of the Security Council – the USSR and Great Britain – outplayed the American diplomats. They came up with the idea that there was no decision to expel one member and admit a new one, which would indeed require following the procedure under Articles 6 and 4 of the UN Charter, but only to “clarify the powers” of the Chinese representatives to the UN.
The issue was immediately put to the vote of the UN General Assembly. And on October 25, 1971, the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 2758 was approved. 77 countries voted for it, which was less than 2/3 of the then UN membership – 132 members, but was a simple majority. Against were 35 states, 17 abstained. The Chinese from Taiwan protested violently, spoke about the betrayal of the UN principles and did not vote. Thus, then the usual voting of the General Assembly took place! And the resolution itself, if carefully read its text, does not speak about the admission of a new member, but about the “restoration of the lawful rights” of the People’s Republic of China – both in the United Nations and as one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council.
The last paragraph of this resolution is also interesting, as it talks about the decision to “expel forthwith the representatives of Chiang Kai-shek from the place which they unlawfully occupy at the United Nations”, and there is not even a mention of any “Republic of China” in the text.
Thus, more than half a century ago, the procedures of the UN Charter were de facto violated in relation to a member of the UN and a permanent member of the Security Council, whose representatives were simply kicked out, ignoring all his protests. For us, this aspect is the most interesting from the point of view of the prospects of expulsion from the UN not even of the country – the Russian Federation, but of the representatives of the terrorist regime that illegally occupied the seat of the former USSR in the UN.
By the way, formally expelled half a century ago, the Republic of China has the right to reapply for membership in the UN. Authorities of Taipei took certain steps, but then just gave up: now they would hardly be able to get into the UN under the procedure prescribed in the UN Charter. Representatives of the People’s Republic of China, who are now in the Security Council, naturally will not allow this, insisting on the principle of “one China”.
And the final touch in this story. If you open the UN Charter, there is still mentioned the Republic of China in the list of permanent members of the Security Council, along with the non-existent USSR, whose chair is illegally occupied by the Kremlin’s envoy, and not the People’s Republic of China – obviously, that’s why the Chinese representative is sitting with a plate, that simply says China! Funny, isn’t it?
And all because neither half a century ago, nor for all the last thirty years (after the collapse of the USSR) the United Nations had no desire to follow its own procedure, and to introduce actual changes to the UN Charter (again, by an absolute majority of the General Assembly votes).
This whole story has practical significance for Ukraine, it is another possible and completely legal way to expel Russian representatives from the UN, and at the same time bypass the complex procedures prescribed in the Organization’s Charter.
However, it should be admitted that at the moment, even among Ukraine’s close partners, there is no unity and clear support for the exclusion of Russia. And some countries still believe that the presence of Russian representatives in the UN allows “to solve some issues with them or even to deter Russian aggression”. On the other hand, the voting in the UN General Assembly for the “Ukrainian” resolutions in recent months clearly shows that Ukraine consistently has the support of the majority of countries on the planet, when the necessary decisions are well-developed, and supported by weighty and logical justifications.
Russia (with its few allies) is powerless to do anything in the General Assembly. As for the position of the People’s Republic of China, obviously, the Chinese support for Russia is caused not only by the “coincidence of interests” in some spheres but also by possible fears of the Chinese that during the consideration of the “Russian issue” someone will remember how the People’s Republic of China itself ended up in the UN. Perhaps that is why, at the end of last month, Beijing suddenly started talking about the fact that the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 2758 cannot be questioned or revised.
If so, we would like to know how the Chinese side would react to the idea of not expelling Russia from the UN, but only clarifying the powers of the Russian delegation. Or to ask how Beijing would react to the proposal to replace the Russian representative in the UN Security Council with a Ukrainian one (as the legal and authorized successor of the USSR), recalling, by the way, that in 1971 the delegation of the then Soviet Ukraine also voted in support of the resolution favorable to the Chinese comrades in the UN.