China has held a seat in the UN since 24 October 1945. After the Communist victory in 1949, UN representation was exercised by the Republic of China (ROC) government on Taiwan until November 1971, when the PRC replaced the ROC in the world organization and its member agencies. As of January 1988, the PRC belonged to ESCAP and all the nonregional specialized agencies. The PRC displaced the ROC in the IBRD and IMF in 1980. China is a signatory to the Law of the Sea and acceded to WTO membership on 11 December 2001.
The United States extended recognition to China on 15 December 1978 and resumed full diplomatic relations as of 1 January 1979. Continued US links with Taiwan in the 1980s, however, remained an irritant in US-PRC relations. The future of Hong Kong, for which part of the lease (the New Territories) expired in 1997, dominated UK-Chinese discussions, and in 1986, an agreement to give Hong Kong back to China in 1997 was formally signed. Relations with the USSR, severed during the Sino-Soviet split in the 1960s, improved somewhat in the 1980s but remained strained over China's support of anti-Soviet forces in Cambodia and Afghanistan. By the end of 1985, more than 130 nations had extended full diplomatic recognition to the PRC, with a parallel drop to about 10 in the number recognizing Taiwan's government. By the mid-1980s, the PRC had achieved normal relations with most of its Asian neighbors, including Japan, India, Pakistan, Malaysia, Thailand, and Singapore. Relations with Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos (all allies of the former USSR) were tense after the late 1970s, but improved in the 1990s. At the Eighth Summit of the Association of Southeast Asia Nations held in November 2002, China forgave the debts of Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in late 1991, China established diplomatic relations with the republics of the former Soviet Union. China normalized relations with the Republic of Korea in 1992. At an "ASEAN+3" (China, Japan, and the Republic of Korea) summit meeting held in November 2000, the three countries agreed to promote human and cultural exchanges between them. As of January 2003, a proposed ASEAN-China Free Trade Area was being planned, to begin in 2010.