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“Imagined Territory: The Republic of China’s 1955 Veto of Mongolian Membership in the United Nations”

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In 1955, Jiang Tingfu, representing the Republic of China (ROC), vetoed Mongolia’s entry into the United Nations. In the 26 years the ROC represented China in the United Nations, it only cast this one veto. The ROC’s veto was a contentious move because Taipei had recognized Mongolia as a sovereign state in 1946. A majority of the world body, including the United States, favored Mongolia’s admission as part of a deal to end the international organization’s deadlocked-admissions problem. The ROC’s veto placed it not only in opposition to the United Nations but also its primary benefactor. This article describes the public and private discourse surrounding this event to analyze how ROC representatives portrayed the veto and what they thought Mongolian admission to the United Nations represented. It also examines international reactions to Taipei’s claims and veto. It argues that in 1955 Mongolia became a synecdoche for all of China that Taipei claimed to represent, and therefore ROC representatives could not acknowledge it as a sovereign state.

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