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For almost a decade and one-half the Chinese participation question has challenged the United Nations. In its coming session the General Assembly will doubtlessly once again grapple with the question, but past debates do not promise rational solution. In brief summary, two claimants seek, or are proffered by others, to participate as the "State of China" in the General Assembly, the Security Council, and the Specialized Agencies. The Government of the Republic of China (Nationalist China) has held the seat since the founding of the United Nations. The People's Republic of China (Communist China), however, commands resources of considerable magnitude, and events of recent years have enhanced its claim to participation.

Any decision on the Chinese participation question will have extraordinary value impacts. Immense power is at stake. A participation decision will determine whether and how one quarter of the world's population will share in world community processes of authority, and it will affect the resource-base—material, institutional, and strategic—of international organizations. It will influence the range and type of decisions which world organizations can make in implementing and clarifying the common interest. A participation decision will allocate seats on the Security Council, the General Assembly and the Specialized Agencies. The Security Council seat is permanent, and the veto permits its occupant to influence virtually all Council decisions bearing on international peace and security. The General Assembly seat carries the rights to vote and debate, the privilege to negotiate in the corridors of the United Nations, and the prestige of U.N. membership. Membership itself promises participation in the U.N. Secretariat, an organ of increasing importance.

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