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Foreign Relations of the United States, 1961–1963
Volume XXII, Northeast Asia, Document 133


133. Memorandum of ConversationSourceSource: Department of State, Central Files, 110.11-RU/6-2562. Secret; Limit Distribution. Drafted by Bohlen and approved in S on July 3. The conversation was held at the Foreign Ministry.

  • PARTICIPANTS
  • United States
  • The Secretary
  • Ambassador Bruce
  • Mr. Bohlen
  • Mr. Kohler (for the beginning)
  • Great Britain
  • Lord Home
  • Sir Harold Caccia
  • Sir Evelyn Shuckburgh
  • Mr. Joseph Godber
  • Mr. Ian Samuel
  • [Ramsbotham, Mason]11. Brackets in the source text.
  • SUBJECT
  • China

SET/MC/38

SECRETARY'S EUROPEAN TRIP

June 18-28, 1962

The Secretary said that last night they had talked about letting Peiping know that there would be no attack. He said the Peiping regime had broadcast an article which described these measures as defensive. In addition, from their information, the scale does not indicate offensive action, which was confirmed by the air dispositions and the fact that there were no assault boats being assembled.

Turning to the question of food,22. Lord Home raised the question of sending food to China in a May 20 message to Rusk, who replied noncommittally in a May 22 letter to British Ambassador David Ormsby Gore. (Both in Department of State, Central Files, 893.49/5-2262) A British aide-memoire of May 29 conveyed a suggestion by former Japanese Prime Minister Yoshida for an international consortium to provide food to China. (Ibid., 893.49/5-2962) On June 12 Rusk authorized discussion of the proposal with the British Embassy. (Memorandum from Harriman to Rusk, ibid., 893.02/6-1262) Yager subsequently indicated to Ledward U.S. willingness to discuss the proposal, but by that time British interest had apparently subsided. (Memorandum of conversation, July 9; ibid., 893.49/7-962) the Secretary pointed out that President Kennedy had deliberately left this question open.33. Kennedy stated on June 14, in response to a question asked at a meeting with the headquarters staff of the Peace Corps, that U.S. policy was “to do nothing on the food until there is some indication that the Chinese Communists desire it” and to “consider it on an independent basis at that time.” (Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: John F. Kennedy, 1962, pp. 487-488) We did not see how food from outside could have much effect on the general situation in China but he said, however, we did not exclude the possibility of participating in some general humanitarian action. He felt that it would be essential politically in the United States to have some indication from the Chinese communists that they were relaxing their tactics of pressure on India and elsewhere in order to get it through the Senate.

Lord Home remarked that their recent Charge in Peiping had said that nothing would induce the Chinese to ask for aid. He said he felt there was nothing to do in the circumstances but be ready to consult together if any request was received. He mentioned that Averell Harriman had suggested that the UK should talk to the Chinese about the off-shore islands but that they were not in very good odor in Peiping at the moment. He wondered if it would be worthwhile. He said they would be prepared to do so if necessary, but doubted the desirability of doing it now. He said the new Charge would be going to Peiping in the latter part of July. The Secretary suggested that he might be briefed to be ready to act if and when it was necessary and the British agreed.

The Secretary mentioned, in this connection, that Ambassador Cabot in Poland, discussed this matter with the Chinese Ambassador. In fact, Wang had brought it up. He said it was our impression that the Chinese communist leadership was less arrogant and less confident than previously.

Mr. Bohlen mentioned certain intelligence indications that we had had of a certain dampening-down of the Chinese-Soviet dispute in recent months.

Lord Home said that the Chinese refugees trying to get into Hong Kong had been very interesting and appeared to reveal that the provincial authorities were not in complete control, but that when the national government had taken over the matter the action was very quick. The Secretary said that we felt that the unrest in China might have been a factor in the military buildup off Taiwan. Lord Home remarked that they had that information; that there had been no censorship of letters coming from overseas from Chinese who had written urging their relatives to come out.

Sir Harold Caccia said that on his trip through China he had found them less arrogant but no less sensitive. The Secretary remarked that the Chinese nationalists had withdrawn their plan to put in a new SC representative,44. Documentation concerning GRC interest in naming a new Security Council representative as well as a new Permanent Representative to replace Tsiang is in Department of State, Central File 303. which was good news since this was a very poor time to bring this up. He mentioned that ten years ago, to Wellington Koo, that the Chinese could not get seven votes in the Security Council, which had caused them to drop the matter then.

Turning to the question of the General Assembly this fall, the Secretary mentioned that our people in New York felt that it would follow very much the lines of last year. They had found little enthusiasm for the study commission, but thought it was well to keep it alive for possible use in the future.

Mr. Godber said that he thought this time it would be less procedural than last year and would concentrate more on the central question—that is, who would represent China. He felt that the study group might be a means of stiffening the interest in this question.

* Source: Department of State, Central Files, 110.11-RU/6-2562. Secret; Limit Distribution. Drafted by Bohlen and approved in S on July 3. The conversation was held at the Foreign Ministry.

1 Brackets in the source text.

2 Lord Home raised the question of sending food to China in a May 20 message to Rusk, who replied noncommittally in a May 22 letter to British Ambassador David Ormsby Gore. (Both in Department of State, Central Files, 893.49/5-2262) A British aide-memoire of May 29 conveyed a suggestion by former Japanese Prime Minister Yoshida for an international consortium to provide food to China. (Ibid., 893.49/5-2962) On June 12 Rusk authorized discussion of the proposal with the British Embassy. (Memorandum from Harriman to Rusk, ibid., 893.02/6-1262) Yager subsequently indicated to Ledward U.S. willingness to discuss the proposal, but by that time British interest had apparently subsided. (Memorandum of conversation, July 9; ibid., 893.49/7-962)

3 Kennedy stated on June 14, in response to a question asked at a meeting with the headquarters staff of the Peace Corps, that U.S. policy was “to do nothing on the food until there is some indication that the Chinese Communists desire it” and to “consider it on an independent basis at that time.” (Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: John F. Kennedy, 1962, pp. 487-488)

4 Documentation concerning GRC interest in naming a new Security Council representative as well as a new Permanent Representative to replace Tsiang is in Department of State, Central File 303.