Despite the People’s Republic of China’s obstruction, Taiwan has managed to either stay or become members of many important international organizations. Even though the ROC’s seat in many international organizations was replaced by the PRC after 1971, through countless efforts, Taiwan is able to have its voice heard somewhere in the international society.
The World Trade Organization (WTO) was created in 1994, world trade was mostly regulated under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), first signed by 23 countries (including the Republic of China) in 1948. However, when the Nationalists lost the civil war and retreated to Taiwan in 1949, the ROC government declared to withdraw from GATT due to political and economic instability. 16 years later in 1965, ROC re-entered GATT as an observer. This did not last long as in 1971 ROC lost its seat in the UN. GATT followed UN’s decision and revoked ROC’s status as an observer. After 30 years of development, Taiwan had become one of the world’s most successful economics, and its application to be a member of the WTO was accepted in 2001. Taiwan became the 144th member of the WTO on 1 January 2002, under the name of “Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu 台澎金馬個別關稅領域” (abbreviated as “Chinese Taipei”).
The People’s Republic of China became the 143rd member of WTO on 11 December 2001.
The Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) was established in 1989 with 12 founding economics. In 1991, the People’s Republic of China 中華人民共和國, Hong Kong, China 中國香港, and Chinese Taipei 中華台北 joined APEC on the same date. Hong Kong, China, and Chinese Taipei joined under the status as “local economics”. Taiwan made a compromise to the status of being “local”. The APEC holds an annual APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting, which is attended by the heads of government of all APEC members, EXCEPT for Chinese Taipei. Since the PRC doesn’t recognize Taiwan as a country, the President of ROC would be undesired to appear in international meetings. Thus year after year, the PRC always pressure the host country of the Leaders’ Meeting to pressure Taiwan into sending someone who’s a lower level governmental official (past examples included the Minister of Economic Affairs and the Governor of the Central Bank of the ROC (Taiwan)) or is respected in Taiwan but doesn’t really have a relation to the ROC government (such as the president of the Academia Sinica) to attend. Over the past two years, however, the Vice President of ROC attended the Leaders’ Meeting.
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is a regional development bank established in 1966 to promote economic and social development in Asian and Pacific countries through loans and technical assistance. Republic of China (Taiwan) initially joined as “China” as a founding member representing the whole of China in 1966. However, its share of Bank capital was based on the size of Taiwan’s capital, unlike the World Bank and IMF where the government in Taiwan had had a share representing the whole of China prior to the People’s Republic of China joining and taking the Republic of China’s seat. In 1986, a compromise was effected when the People’s Republic of China joined the institution. The ROC was allowed to retain its membership, but under the name of Taipei, China — a name it protests. Uniquely, this allows both sides of the Taiwan Straits to be represented at the institution.
As of recent years, Taiwan has been attempting to rejoin the United Nations, the World Health Organizations, and other organizations under the UN structure through the help of those countries that have or don’t have official diplomatic relationships with Taiwan. However, not much success has been granted.
For a list of organizations in which the Republic of China (Taiwan) is a member, no matter what name it operates under, visit the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of China (Taiwan).