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A nation must think before it acts.
Fifty years ago, with the passage of United Nations General Assembly Resolution 2758, the United Nations admitted the People’s Republic of China and expelled the Republic of China (Taiwan). Since then, Taiwan has been internationally isolated and largely prevented from fully participating on the international stage. As Beijing continues its coercive campaign against Taipei and as U.S.-China competition intensifies, Taiwan’s international participation—centered around the United Nations—has again become a major issue. President Richard Nixon may provide a pathway for how the Biden administration should approach this problem: His administration attempted to have both Beijing and Taipei seated in the UN as “dual representatives” as a compromise bargain. While the “dual representatives” compromise would likely fail now as it did then, it does provide a useful rationale for U.S. executives who seek to expand Taiwan’s international participation. The Biden administration has three potential pathways in bolstering or supporting Taiwan’s UN membership, from the current minimalist push in its ad hoc observer status, to a middle-ground to become a permanent observer in the UN General Assembly, to a maximal approach pushing for full membership.