China's President Hu Jintao has warned that a plan by the Taiwanese government to promote a referendum on the island’s entry into the United Nations is ‘intolerable by law’. According to the Chinese, any referendum on UN membership would be crossing a red line, creating an opportunity for the communist party to enact the 2005 Anti-Secessionist Law which authorizes the use of ‘non-peaceful means’ against the Taiwan independence movement if it moves to a formal declaration of independence.
Taiwan has applied for UN membership over fourteen times. This year it applied under the name of Taiwan rather than the islands official name, the Republic of China. The UN has rejected all previous bids in line with UN resolution 2758 which switched UN recognition from Taiwan to China. Most UN countries have diplomatic ties with China, which combined with the country’s growing economic clout prevent them from backing Taiwan’s bid.
The push for a referendum has angered Beijing. China believes that archaeology, international law and common ethnic, linguistic and cultural ties affirm Taiwan as an inseparable part of its territories. It therefore views the island as a breakaway province and argues that no sovereign nation allows secessionist movements. China has therefore warned that any referendum risks fomenting a dangerous period for the region, a view shared by the United States which sees the move as provocative.
The plan for a referendum would be timed to coincide with Taiwan’s presidential vote next March.