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Foreign Relations of the United States, 1961–1963
Volume XXII, Northeast Asia, Document 132


132. Memorandum of ConversationSourceSource: Department of State, Central Files, 110.11-RU/6-2462. Secret; Limit Distribution. Drafted by Kohler and approved in S on June 28. The conversation was held at Carleton Gardens.

  • PARTICIPANTS
  • United States
  • Secretary of State
  • Ambassador Bruce
  • Mr. Bohlen
  • Mr. Kohler
  • UK
  • Prime Minister Macmillan
  • Lord Home, Foreign Minister
  • Edward Heath, Lord Privy Seal
  • Sir Harold Caccia
  • Sir Evelyn Shuckburgh
  • Mr. Ian Samuels
  • SUBJECT
  • China

SET/MC/33

SECRETARY'S EUROPEAN TRIP

(June 18-28, 1962)

The Secretary opened the conversation on China by referring to the ChiCom military build-up opposite Taiwan. We felt that this was probably of a defensive nature, responsive to the talk from Taiwan on “return to the mainland.” He could assure the British, however, that Peiping knows that the United States will not allow an attack on the mainland. He then commented on the question of food for mainland China. He felt that an initiative on our part in this connection would play into Peiping's hands. Our people had calculated that to provide simply an additional 100 calories a day to bring consumption from 1300 to 1400 calories (as against a normal requirement of 2200-2300) would alone cost in the range of $700 million per year. This was a difficult question and one on which the United States could not act unless it were possible to reverse the Food for Peace slogan to “Peace for Food.”

The Prime Minister replied vehemently that he simply did not understand United States policy on China. We did not even admit that China existed. He wondered what our long-run policy was. He regarded it as indefensible by any logic. He said the Peiping regime obviously are China. The United States had “a fellow from Taiwan” sitting in China's seat in the UN. He admitted that we had come out of the last session very well, but only because we had “bullied all the South Americans” into voting for us. The British, he said, do a good business with the Chinese Communists. They had, for example, sold them fourteen Viscounts. The British are an island, they live on trade.

The Secretary commented that the UK traded with the Chinese Communists while we furnish the gendarmes to keep them from misbehaving. If the choice had to be made, he would say frankly we were much closer to the East Germans than to the Chinese Communists. He commented that we would be faced with an appalling prospect if the Chinese government changed and the food problem became ours. He added that we are maintaining regular contact with the Chinese Communists through the Warsaw talks but that we had got nothing from these, not even a few American prisoners.

Lord Home then referred to the question of American troops in Southeast Asia and asked what should be done about these. The Secretary replied that these were like NATO troops. They posed no threat for the Chinese Communists if Peiping behaved. Our troops had no intention of going north. Lord Home then asked whether if the situation remained quiet in South Vietnam it might be possible to work out an arrangement along the lines of the Laos settlement. The Secretary replied that the two situations were not comparable. He then commented that there could be two interpretations of Khrushchev's purpose in Laos. Possibly it could be that he wanted to show us that agreement was possible. On the other hand, he may have wanted to show the other Communist parties that his “peaceful coexistence” policy was a way to advance the Communist cause. He felt that the situation still had to be carefully watched. We were worried about the possible course of development, especially during Souvanna's absence from the country.

* Source: Department of State, Central Files, 110.11-RU/6-2462. Secret; Limit Distribution. Drafted by Kohler and approved in S on June 28. The conversation was held at Carleton Gardens.