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Republic of China United Nations membership referendums, 2008

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Republic of China United Nations membership referendums, 2008

Republic of China (Taiwan) United Nations membership referendums, 2008

March 22, 2008

  Majority party Minority party
Leader Chen Shui-bian Wu Po-hsiung
Party Democratic Progressive Kuomintang
Leader since May 20, 2000 March 20, 2000
Popular vote 5,529,230 (Question 5) 352,359 (Question 5)
Percentage 94.01% (Question 5) 5.99% (Question 5)

Two referendums on the participation of the Republic of China (Taiwan) in the United Nations were put to Republic of China voters on March 22, 2008, the same day as the presidential election.[1]

The first referendum question, supported by the Republic of China", "Taiwan", or any other name that aids success and national dignity.[1]

The ROC Central Election Commission has declared both referendums invalid due to low turnout. The presidential election held at the same time had a turn out rate at 76.33%.


Under Chen Shui-bian, banners supporting Taiwan joining the UN were common in government buildings, such as Taipei Main Station.

The format of the referendums has been controversial, with much of the discussion occurring before the Republic of China transitional justice referendum held in January 2008.

Note that while the two referendums are each supported by one of the two major parties in Taiwan, they both stand formally as voter-initiated, rather than government-sponsored, referendums.[1] Furthermore, while the KMT initiated one of the two referendums, it has encouraged its voters to at least boycott the DPP-initiated referendum, and expressed its understanding if supporters chose to boycott both referendums. In practice, while KMT officials such as presidential candidate Chen Shui-bian, called on voters to vote in both referendums.

Questions and results

Question 5

National Referendum Proposal No. 5 was first initiated by You Si-kun (Yu Shyi-kun), former Premier of the ROC and former chairman of the Democratic Progressive Party. The topic was "Application to become a new member of the United Nations under the name “Taiwan”"

Question 5
Choice Votes %
Referendum failed No 352,359 5.99
Yes 5,529,230 94.01
Valid votes 5,881,589 94.84
Invalid or blank votes 320,088 5.16
Total votes 6,201,677 100.00
Turnout required 50.00
Registered voters and turnout 17,313,854 35.82

Question 6

National Referendum Proposal No. 6 was first initiated by Vincent Siew, former Premier of the ROC and current Vice President-elect.

Question 6
Choice Votes %
Referendum failed No 724,060 12.73
Yes 4,962,309 87.27
Valid votes 5,686,369 91.91
Invalid or blank votes 500,749 8.09
Total votes 6,187,118 100.00
Turnout required 50.00
Registered voters and turnout 17,313,854 35.74

Both referendums were invalidated since turnout were below the minimum requirement of 50% of registered voters.

External responses

Propaganda supporting Taiwan joining the UN in Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport. It says that it's "UNFAIR" for Taiwan being excluded from UN.

 United States: The United States Department of State has stated that it opposed a referendum on membership in the United Nations. While it strongly supports Taiwan's democratic development and is not opposed to referendums in principle, it is against "any initiative that appears designed to change Taiwan's status unilaterally."[3][4] In September 2007, Zogby International conducted an opinion poll on the support of this referendum, the result shows over 61% of Americans believe that the US government should support the referendum.[5][6]

 Japan: A Japanese company also conducted a poll on the same issue; the result shows over 74% Japanese support Taiwan's entry into the UN, and over 81% support the referendum.[7] However, this referendum has not become a major political issue in either the United States or Japan.

 People's Republic of China: The PRC made relatively few comments on the issue. It argued that the referendum would "endanger peace and stability across the Strait and the Asia-Pacific region.",[8] and was "pinning hope on the Taiwan people" and will keep promoting cross-Strait exchanges to strengthen opposition to secessionist forces. It had stated that it appreciated the US opposition to the referendum.[9] After the referendums were defeated due to low voter turnout, the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council of the People's Republic of China commented that the results showed the lack of popular support for independence in Taiwan. The Bureau also expressed optimism for the two governments to work together to maintain cross-strait peace and aid development in future.[10]

Domestic reaction to international reactions

ROC president Chen Shui-bian has accused both the United States and the European Union of caving into PRC pressure over the referendum.[11]

Opinion polling

  • Referendum on applying for United Nations membership under the name of "Taiwan"
Polling firm Date Source For Against
TVBS 17 July 2007 PDF 46 29
United Daily News 14 September 2007 HTML 43 31
TVBS 19 September 2007 PDF 34 51
TVBS 18 January 2008 PDF 33 52
  • Referendum on flexible participation in international organizations
Polling firm Date Source For Against
TVBS 19 September 2007 PDF 18 67
TVBS 18 January 2008 PDF 17 68

Note: Opinion polls may be subjected to sampling biases.


  1. ^ a b c d Government Information Office of the Republic of China (2008), Referendum Proposals, March 22, 2008 Presidential Election and Referendums – PRESS KIT Fact Sheet No. 6
  2. ^ a b "AP Interview: Foreign min says UN referendum is 'overwhelming sentiment' of Taiwan people", International Herald Tribune, 7/27/2007
  3. ^ "USA State Department (2007-06-25): Taiwan U.N. Membership Referendum Opposed by United States". Retrieved 2011-01-02. 
  4. ^ "(2007-09-14): US/Taiwan: Referendum tensions". International Herald Tribune. 2009-03-29. Retrieved 2011-01-02. 
  5. ^ Zogby International - Americans Want Taiwan to Have UN Seat
  6. ^ Zogby Poll: U.S. Should Support Taiwan
  7. ^ "台灣入聯公投 81%日人支持", Liberty Times, 10/27/2007
  8. ^ "PRC Taiwan Affairs Office (2007-09-24): Top adviser slams at Taiwan leader's UN "referendum" bid". 2007-09-24. Retrieved 2011-01-02. 
  9. ^ "PRC Taiwan Affairs Office (2007-12-22): China values U.S. reiterated opposition to Taiwan UN referendum". Retrieved 2011-01-02. 
  10. ^ 国台办发言人:搞"台独"不得人心 期盼为两岸和平发展共同努力 (Spokesperson for Taiwan Affairs Bureau: Taiwan independence fails to win popularity; hopes to work together towards peaceful development of both sides of the Taiwan Strait)
  11. ^ Wu, Debby (2008-01-01). "Taiwan: US caving to China on referendum". Boston Globe. 



External links

  • official press kit for the Republic of China United Nations membership referendum, 2008
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