By Col. (Ret'd) Siamelie Latu
Since the establishment of the diplomatic relations between Tonga and China in November 1998, Tonga and China continue to strengthen their friendly relations based on the United Nations Charter, the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. The Kingdom of Tonga strictly adheres to the One-China Policy. This is reflected by the presence of the Embassy of the Kingdom of Tonga in Beijing, and Tonga’s staunch support of the United Nations, the World Trade Organizations and regional and international organizations. China considers Tibet as an inalienable part of China.
However, China’s firm stance on the Taiwan issue, which is not to have official relations of any kind with the Taiwanese authority, has shown warmer relations over the years by way of mutual cooperation in trade, investment and tourism. Ultimately, mutual support is therefore based on Tonga’s political support for the One-China Policy and the People’s Republic of China assisting Tonga in her commercial development objectives. Cooperation between Tonga and China is principally in the areas of trade, technical cooperation, agriculture, fishing, commerce, tourism, culture and the military.
However, production, manufacturing and processing are identified as essential areas of activity that should be mutually pursued.
China is the second largest contributor to the UN budget among the permanent members of the UN Security Council, which are China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, China is the largest contributor to UN peacekeeping operations. China is a strong supporter of maintaining the Purposes and Principles of the Charter of the U.N. and is a party to more than 5,000 international treaties.
This is the larger background that must be considered when looking at China. The world needs China and China needs the world. It is therefore important for all stakeholders to conduct dialogues and debates in the spirit of fair play, without being overly judgmental or imposing, and to negotiate consensus to ensure positive returns and win-win results.
This article will elaborate on how the UN works and the UN Security Council, the role of China in the UN Security Council and its contributions to peace and security, and the importance of China as a developing country in the United Nation Security Council.
How the UN Works
The UN was established on the 24th October 1945 by 51 countries committed to preserving peace through international cooperation and collective security.
The UN is the world's largest intergovernmental organization. Today, nearly every nation in the world belongs to the UN. Currently, the member states consists of 193 sovereign states which have equal representation in the UN General Assembly. Tonga became the 186th member of the UN in 1999 following the establishment of its diplomatic relations with China in 1998. China supported Tonga’s admission to the UN.
When States become Members of the UN, they agree to accept the obligations of the UN Charter, an international treaty which sets out basic principles of international relations. According to the Charter, the UN has four purposes: to maintain international peace and security, to develop friendly relations among nations, to cooperate in solving international problems and in promoting respect for human rights, and to be a center for harmonizing the actions of nations.
UN Members are sovereign countries. The UN is not a world government, and it does not make laws. It does, however, provide the means to help resolve international conflict and formulate policies on matters affecting all of its members. At the UN, all the Member States - large and small, rich and poor, holding differing political views and social systems - have a voice and vote in this process.
The UN has six main organs. Five of them - the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council, the Trusteeship Council and the Secretariat - are based at UN Headquarters in New York. The sixth, the International Court of Justice, is located at The Hague, Netherlands.
The United Nation Security Council
The UN Charter gives the Security Council primary responsibility for maintaining international peace and security. The Council may convene at any time, day or night, whenever peace is threatened. Under the Charter, all Member States are obligated to carry out the Council's decisions.
The Council is composed of 15 Members: Five of these - China, France, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States - are permanent members (P5). The other 10 are elected by the General Assembly for two-year terms. Member States also discuss making changes in Council membership to reflect today's political and economic realities.
It is important to note that Tonga is not a member of the Security Council.
Decisions of the Council require nine yes votes. Except in votes on procedural questions, a decision cannot be taken if there is a no vote, or veto, by a permanent member. When the Council considers a threat to international peace, it first explores ways to settle the dispute peacefully. It may suggest principles for a settlement or undertake mediation.
In the event of fighting, the Council tries to secure a ceasefire. It may send a peacekeeping mission to help the parties maintain the truce and to keep opposing forces apart. The Council can take measures to enforce its decisions. It can impose economic sanctions or order an arms embargo. On rare occasions, the Council has authorized Member States to use "all necessary means," including collective military action, to see that its decisions are carried out. The Council also makes recommendations to the General Assembly on the appointment of a new Secretary-General and on the admission of new Members to the UN.
The Importance of China in the Security Council
Despite their differences in size and population number, China and Tonga hold something in common. They are both developing countries. However, China is a member of the Security Council and Tonga is not. The question is, Who is going to support and speak in favour of the developing countries including Tonga at the Security Council? The developed countries? France? The Russian Federation? The United Kingdom? The United States? Or China?
Obviously, China sees herself as the leading developing countries at world stage, and therefore take the responsibility to speak in favour of the developing countries including Tonga, particularly with the growing strength in the diplomatic relations of the two countries.
China has always insisted that the United Nations and the international financial and development institutions should vigorously support developing countries, in particular post-conflict countries, in achieving economic and social development, in increasing their capacity-building and in promoting social cohesion, peace, reconciliation and unity in order to prevent the emergence of discrimination and rivalry. (Statement by Ambassador Liu Jieyi at the Security Council Open Debate on Maintenance of International Peace and Security)
Since the establishment of Tonga’s diplomatic relations with China, Tonga and China jointly advocated the five principles of mutual respect for territorial integrity and sovereignty, mutual non-aggression, non-interference in each other's internal affairs, equality and mutual benefit and peaceful coexistence.
The Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, as a transparent and inclusive principle of international law, have fully embodied the values of sovereignty, justice, democracy and the rule of law. They have significantly contributed to the maintenance of international peace and security, safeguarding the interests and rights of developing countries and working for a new reasonable and fair kind of international relations.
China will continue to implement the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, to work with all parties to support the United Nations and the Security Council in playing its due role in preventing conflict and to render contribution to the achievement of the common security and lasting peace of the world.
Tonga has severed its long-standing relationship with Taiwan and established new links with the People’s Republic of China in a diplomatic reshuffling that has not only given Tonga better access to the United Nations, but a move that His Late Majesty King Taufa’ahau Tupou IV believed would open up greater opportunities for its people both socially and economically.
China Supports Reforms of UN to increase Voice of Developing Nations
“With a collective rise of developing countries being the defining feature, China supports reasonable and necessary reform of the Security Council to meet the needs of the times. Priority should be given to increasing representation and voice of developing countries. (United Nations, Nov. 26 Xinhua).
Most of the UN members are small and medium-sized countries. However, till now, 63 countries have never made their way to the Security Council. Some of the small and medium-sized countries get a seat at the Council every 40 to 50 years. This is regrettable and unfair according to China’s view. Reform must increase the opportunities for the small and medium-sized countries to sit in the Council and participate in their decision-making processes.
This is the only way to make the Council more democratic, transparent and efficient. Talking about the reform process, China’s view is that if not handled properly, the process "will not make any progress." Instead, it could jeopardize the consensus already reached and undermine the interest of all member states, and would still less address the under-representation of developing countries in the Security Council.
Reform of the Security Council has been a subject of interest for many member states since the early days of the UN. Formal discussion about reforming the Security Council began with the 1993 establishment of the Open-ended Working Group on the Question of Equitable Representation on and Increase in the Membership of the Security Council and Other Matters related to the Security Council.
China's helpful role in growth of Developing Countries
Since the 1950s, China has been providing what is known as South-South Cooperation to other developing countries in Asia, Africa, the Caribbean and elsewhere. Such cooperation has been received with open arms by all countries, and has increasingly been delivered in partnership with organizations such as the United Nations Development Programme.
2004 was a year of transition: a starting point for expansion for many around the world, and the first celebration of South-South Cooperation Day on Sept 12th. Since then, the Chinese government has increased its South-South support by an average of 12 percent per year. This expansion has been unique and necessary for three reasons.
First, China's support for other countries is holistic. It's not simply generous "handouts". China provides trade, investment, low-carbon energy, scholarships, tourism, language and vocational education establishments, technology demonstration centers and more.
In addition, China has sent the largest number of peacekeeping forces among the 5 permanent members of the UN security council to help other countries end conflicts.
Secondly, China's support draws from its own experiences. It has shared recent, relevant and replicable solutions to the challenges faced by other developing countries in alleviating widespread poverty and adapting to climate change.
Finally, China's support has been truly "owned" by governments - responding to their country's requests and their development plans, often in areas where others have been unable to respond - for instance, infrastructure. China aims for "win-win" partnerships.
In conclusion, China insisted that “priority should be given to increasing representation and voice of developing countries, at the United Security Council”. Most of the UN members are small and medium-sized countries. However, most countries have never made their way to the Security Council.
This is regrettable and unfair. Thus, the reason China support and speak in favor of the developing countries including the Kingdom of Tonga to increase the opportunities for the small and medium-sized countries to sit in the Council and participate in their decision-making processes. This is the only way to make the Council more democratic, transparent and efficient.
Since the normalization of diplomatic ties between Tonga and China in November 1998, Tonga and China continue to strengthen their friendly relations based on the United Nations Charter, the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. The Kingdom of Tonga strictly adheres to the One-China Policy.
This is reflected by the presence of the Embassy of the Kingdom of Tonga in Beijing, and Tonga’s staunch support of the United Nations, the World Trade Organizations and regional and international organizations. The normalization of the relations between Tonga and the People’s Republic of China in 1998 “is the first step for Tonga to become a full member of the United Nations. By establishing diplomatic relations with China, His Late Majesty King Taufa‘ahau Tupou IV therefore acknowledged to the world, that Tonga recognizes the United Nations Charter, adheres to the One China policy, and that Taiwan is a part of China. “It is one of the most courageous decisions that His Late Majesty has made.”