by Xinhua writer Wang Jiangang
UNITED NATIONS, Oct. 20 (Xinhua) -- "I have never seen such a resounding applause in my life," remarked Iftikhar Ali, a Pakistani journalist who witnessed the moment half a century ago when the legal seat of the People's Republic of China (PRC) in the United Nations was restored.
Ali, who covered the UN General Assembly (UNGA) session in 1971 for the Associated Press of Pakistan (APP), witnessed the historical event, when the UNGA voted on China's legal representation.
After a week of debates, the 135-member UNGA convened on the night of Oct. 25, 1971, to discuss a draft resolution jointly proposed by Albania, Algeria and 21 other countries calling for the recognition of the PRC as "the only legitimate representative of China to the United Nations", Ali said in a recent interview with Xinhua.
The assembly then adopted the draft resolution by a roll-call vote of 76 to 35, with 17 abstentions, as Resolution 2758.
"Huge excitement" erupted immediately after the result was announced, recalled Ali.
Cheers and applause filled the air, and people were hugging and shouting, said Ali. "Some ambassadors also got up and danced."
A photo of Tanzanian Ambassador Salim Ahmed Salim dancing was published in U.S. newspapers the next day, said Ali.
"At that time, I had to leave to file the story," said Ali, who had no time to participate in the celebration.
He rushed all the way to the third floor of the General Assembly building and shot a flash in one of the telegraph rooms to the APP headquarters: "UNITED NATIONS CHINA IN TAIWAN OUT APP."
The big news had to be announced "in the fewest words" possible through telegram, since there were no telex machines or computers at that time. "Another word would delay it," Ali explained.
The veteran Pakistani journalist has been covering UN news ever since. While many events have become fuzzy over time, the night of Oct. 25, 1971 remains vivid in his memory.
This was an issue of "universal membership," Ali stressed, adding that most countries thereafter insisted that "Taiwan is a province of China."
In addition to what happened in the General Assembly Hall, Ali noted that the Chinese delegation's arrival at John F. Kennedy International Airport on Nov. 11 was another highlight for China's restoration of its lawful seat at the United Nations.
There was a huge crowd of reporters waiting outside the airport for the arrival of the delegation, which Ali called a "sea of people." Many people "were beating drums and gongs and shouting welcome slogans."
Journalists, as well as permanent representatives of the 23 sponsors of the draft resolution and some UN representatives of other countries, as well as "officials, friends and colleagues from various walks of life," went to the airport to greet the Chinese delegation.
"I was really proud of China when I saw the five-star red flag raised high in front of the Roosevelt Hotel," Ali said.
In Ali's view, the restoration of China's legitimate seat at the United Nations has had a significant impact on the UN's ecology.
"The whole United Nations, the whole scenario has changed because of the presence of the People's Republic of China," he said, adding that China is a country "with a development policy on the thinking and in support of the third-world countries."
Ali also believes that the presence of China at the Security Council has made the most important organ of the world "balanced."
"China has been a strong advocate of multilateralism, and it continues to be an important supporter of developing countries," said Ali, adding that China has constantly insisted that decisions regarding international affairs should be reached through consultation between all members.
On China's principle of safeguarding the international system with the United Nations at its core, Ali said that China has done a great job in this regard.
He thanked China for helping Pakistan build the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which he said has brought "prosperity to the people of Pakistan."
Ali told Xinhua that he has strong feelings and love for China and its people as his first visit abroad was to the Asian country.
He visited China in 1964 as a member of the Pakistani delegation to Beijing to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the PRC's founding.
"I have been to China seven times. My last visit was in 1976," said Ali.
The international community made a wise choice 50 years ago, "we are very proud of that," said Ali, who expects to visit China again some time in the future. Enditem