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The ROC had promised to return by the 1970s, but by then it was clear to many UN members its government no longer represented the hundreds of millions of people living across the Taiwan Strait in the now-communist controlled People's Republic of China (PRC).

The "Resolution on Admitting Peking," also known as Resolution 2758, called for member states to "restore" the rights of the People's Republic of China in Beijing as the "only lawful representatives of China to the United Nations." After years of trying at the behest of Chinese ally Albania, the resolution finally passed in the General Assembly.

Competing claims

Resolution 2758 calls for the UN to "expel forthwith the representatives of Chiang Kai-shek," a reference to the ROC's paramount leader who ruled in China and then Taiwan from 1928 until his death in 1976.

But personal rule by the Chiang family and Taiwan's draconian martial law period ended more than 30 years ago. Since its democratic transition in the 1990s, the vast majority of Taiwan's citizens see themselves as "Taiwanese".

A key difference between Taiwan now and when it lost its seat is that in practice it is also no longer claiming to represent territorial China, said Julian Ku, a professor in constitutional law at Hofstra University in New York.

The writing was on the wall for the ROC when in July 1971 US Secretary Henry Kissinger secretly visited Beijing, paving the way for former US President Richard Nixon's historic visit the following year.

By October 1971, the ROC was formally expelled from the UN and eight years later the US broke off diplomatic relations.

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