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The United Nations was formed at the end of world war II, to maintain peace throughout the world. Within the structure of UN, Security Council is ranked above all.

There were only five permanent members selected. These nations includes US, UK, USSR(now Russia), France and China.

I don't know what criteria was used for this selection, but first four seems obvious to me. US & USSR were two superpowers emerged after war. UK & France were victors and former superpowers, and were still controlling many colonies at that time. But China doesn't fit in picture anywhere. It was not a superpower at that time, neither it had a strong economy or military as of today.

Is it because China fought from victor's side or is it due to it's large population, or is it selected as representative of Asia.

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Related question: history.stackexchange.com/questions/1356/… . They are not duplicates, but the answers there probably answer this question. Mine certainly does. –  T.E.D. Aug 3 at 15:52
This question would benefit from documenting preliminary research. H:SE's value as a Q&A site and as a reference source is improved if questions demonstrate preliminary research. Have you checked wikipedia? –  Mark C. Wallace Aug 5 at 9:54

2 Answers 2

up vote 10 down vote accepted

China (at the time) was one of the "Big Four" Allies during World War II. (The "United Nations" originally meant the united, anti-Axis nations.) It's true that the "Big Three" were the United States, Britain, and the Soviet Union, but there were a number of much weaker, plausible "number four" states, including China, India, France, and Poland (the latter two were German-occupied, with large Free French and free Polish contingents). Of these, China was the strongest and most important. France was "number five," added at the end of the war.

Although China wasn't very successful in World War II, it played an important role in tying up the Japanese forces, acting as the Pacific "anvil" to the Americans' "hammer." As in Europe, the Americans fought only one fourth of the Japanese army (but most of its navy), with China absorbing most of Japan's remaining power. China's capacity in this regard was demonstrated only six years after World War II, when China spearheaded the "anti-UN" (basically anti-US) efforts in Korea.

In order to win World War II, the Axis had to defeat all three of America's major allies; Britain, the Soviet Union and China. Suppose the second worst case scenario, that the Germans had conquered the British Isles (e.g. by submarine warfare) in 1944, and European Russia by the end of 1945. Then America would be the leader of "Free British" forces in India, "Free Russia" forces in Siberia, and "free China." By mid-1945, the Allies had actually recaptured the Philippines, parts of Indochina and modern Indonesia, and Japan's Pacific Islands. Then Eisenhower's "Normandy" invasion could have instead liberated Japanese-occupied China in 1945, in cooperation with local Chinese forces. A "United Nations" of North and South America, China, India, Siberia, Australia, and today's ASEAN nations (even if Britain, Russia, Africa and the Middle East were lost to the Germans) would probably have sufficed to wage and win a "Cold War" with the Axis. Take China out of the equation and the "Allies" lose. (This is a thesis of my unpublished World War II book, "Axis Overstretch.")

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The Peoples Republic of China was not originally on the security council, as it did not exist in 1945 at the time the security council was created. The Peoples Republic of China inherited the Republic of China's seat on the council when it took over the ROC's place in the United Nations in 1971.

Originally the United States supported the ROC's place on the security council. The reasons for this obviously are subject to interpretation and were highly political. Possibly one factor was that the council was going to include Britain and France (both former colonial powers) and the US saw the ROC as an ally and counterweight to the European presence on the council. Also, the US may have seen the need for an Asian representative on the council.

This latter motivation, having all continents represented, is also suggested by the fact that the United States also supported having Brazil on the security council, although this was firmly opposed by Britain and France.

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last paragraph makes no sense, as there's no permanent seat appointed to Africa (and who'd it be anyway? Nazi symphatetic South Africa was the only independent entity on that continent in 1945 with any military and political clout to speak of). –  jwenting Aug 4 at 11:04

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