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Foreign Relations of the United States, 1961–1963
Volume XXII, Northeast Asia, Document 14


14. Memorandum of ConversationSourceSource: Department of State, Central Files, 303/3-1761. Secret. Drafted by Martin and approved in S on April 6. The time of the meeting is from the Secretary's Appointment Book. (Johnson Library)

  • SUBJECT
  • Chinese Representation
  • PARTICIPANTS
  • The Secretary
  • Dr. George K. C. Yeh, Chinese Ambassador
  • Mr. C. C. Lai, First Secretary Chinese Embassy
  • Mr. E. W. Martin, Director Office of Chinese Affairs

Ambassador Yeh called on the Secretary at the latter's request this morning. The Secretary opened the conversation by inquiring whether Ambassador T.F. Tsiang had returned to New York. Ambassador Yeh explained that Dr. Tsiang had not gone to Taipei for consultation; he had remained in New York in order to consult with Ambassador Stevenson on the prospects for using the moratorium again. Ambassador Yeh expressed the view of his government that the moratorium should not be given up lightly but that steps should be taken to see how many votes could be obtained in support of it.

The Secretary responded that he was not surprised that the GRC hoped to continue the moratorium. However, he thought that the GRC should consider alternatives. He pointed out that a growing number of United Nations members feel that the subject of Chinese representation should at least be discussed in the General Assembly. There was also a feeling among members that the moratorium was running out of votes and they were losing patience with it. Thus it looked as though the subject was going to come up for debate in the next General Assembly. (It had, of course, been decided for the resumed General Assembly.)

The Secretary emphasized that there would be no change in the bilateral relations between the United States and China. The United States would continue to recognize the GRC. On the other hand, there was no prospect that Peiping would be recognized both because of its own policy and of United States policy.

The United Nations problem was more complicated, however; the parliamentary situation there was very difficult. To us the most disastrous result would be to have the issue treated as a credentials question—as a question of which delegation should be seated in China's seat. If the moratorium expires, it means that a majority of members want to have the issue discussed, not necessarily that the majority wants Peiping to replace the GRC in the United Nations. A serious parliamentary threat, which we must guard against, is the technical possibility that a bare majority would decide that this is a credentials matter. We think it is not simply a credentials matter but an important matter of far reaching implications. The seating of the Peiping regime is not an objective of policy of some members who vote for the seating of Peiping or against the moratorium. The Ambassador asked if the Secretary was thinking of the United Kingdom. The Secretary said he was thinking of a number of countries. He indicated we should try to get away from the present deadlock which involves a considerable risk and produce another deadlock but on a more advantageous position. At this point the GRC should consider its attitude on this key question. How does it feel on the choice between an all-or-nothing position, on the one hand, and the determination to remain a member of the United Nations, on the other? If the GRC takes an all-or-nothing position, it is likely that a majority of United Nations members will insist on dealing with the issue as a credentials question. If the GRC concentrates on retaining its position in the United Nations, however, then the prospect is that Peiping will refuse to take up membership on the grounds that the GRC is still in the United Nations, and a deadlock will ensue for which Peiping will bear the responsibility. The Secretary said that if the issue were decided to be an important matter, there would probably not be a two-third's majority for any solution. The key point is the GRC's attitude on the question of all-or-nothing.

The Ambassador said he would faithfully report what the Secretary had said to his government. He regarded it as being very important. He could not answer the Secretary's question as to whether his government would take an all-or-nothing approach or concentrate on remaining in the United Nations. Although he could not give his government's answer to this question, as a personal footnote he could point out that in response to a strong recommendation on his part the GRC had instructed its Charge d'Affaires to remain in Senegal (at least temporarily) even though the Senegal Government had decided to recognize Communist China.11. Telegram 602 from Dakar, March 15, reported that Senegal's Prime Minister had informed the GRC Charge on March 14 that Senegal had decided to recognize the PRC but that it did not intend to establish diplomatic relations with the PRC and hoped the GRC would maintain its Embassy in Dakar. (Department of State, Central Files, 793.02/3-1561) Thus, for the time being any way, the GRC had not taken an all-or-nothing attitude in Senegal. The Ambassador also recalled the situation which had arisen in Melbourne in the 1956 Olympic Games. Dr. Yeh, who was then Foreign Minister, had decided to send a GRC team to Melbourne despite the presence of the Chinese Communists. As a result, Peiping withdrew from the Olympics. The Ambassador emphasized that in these personal footnotes he was not suggesting what his government's policy would be on the United Nations question. However, these were cases where his government had determined to participate regardless of whether the Chinese Communists came or not.

The Secretary emphasized that the GRC's attitude was crucial in the determination of how to deal with the subject in the United Nations. He noted that Peiping had made acknowledgment of its claim to Formosa a condition to United Nations membership. If the United Nations insists that the GRC retain an independent seat this would represent a major breach in Peiping's claim to Formosa, and require a major shift in Peiping's policy for it to accept United Nations membership.

Ambassador Yeh said he felt sure his government would not want to leave the United Nations in favor of Peiping but would stay on because it has a right to be there. However, the GRC would not want to change its national name. At the San Francisco Conference, the name Republic of China had been deliberately chosen instead of China by the Chinese delegation. Former Ambassador Koo had remarked at the time that this choice of name might be important as a criterion in the future (the Ambassador noted that the Chinese delegation had included Communist representatives). The Secretary doubted that much could be rested on this point in the United Nations. Dr. Yeh agreed, but reiterated the importance that the GRC attached to retaining its own name. If the Peiping government were voted in, it should be in its own name as the “People's Republic of China”.

The Ambassador analyzed briefly the voting in the 15th General Assembly on the moratorium, pointing out that the favorable votes had decreased from 44 to 42, with the loss of Cuba and Ethiopia, and the abstentions had increased from 9 to 22, including 14 African states. The GRC had established diplomatic relations with 11 African states. He thought that some of these 11 would vote for the moratorium. Probably Brazil's vote might be lost, and Mexico and Pakistan would abstain. He asked the Secretary if the United Kingdom would part ways with the United States. The Secretary replied that it would be difficult for the United Kingdom to continue to support the moratorium formula, but we could find some other formula which would result in a deadlock. The United Kingdom and others who don't feel it is an objective of their policy to bring Peiping into the United Nations could vote for it. A number of countries now feel that there is an unreality about the present situation, but we could get a good deal of help from them if we could develop a reasonable proposal which would bring about a deadlock and shift the onus to Peiping. Ambassador Yeh asked if this would mean putting the question on a two-third's basis since the Chinese Communists could not get a two-thirds majority in their favor. The Secretary indicated this might be one alternative on the parliamentary trail. He emphasized that the GRC should mobilize international support for the conservation of what it has on Formosa even from those who already recognize Peiping.

The Ambassador asked what countries had indicated that they were tired of the moratorium. The Secretary said we do not have a complete list but he pointed out that the principal opposition comes from among those delegations where we have the least political capital. Ambassador Yeh remarked that those who say we must discuss the issue want to see Red China come in. The Secretary said he didn't know about that and cited the fact that President Quadros of Brazil had made clear that he was interested in discussing the issue but was not committed on admission of Communist China. Ambassador Yeh said that, according to his information, Quadros was thinking about recognizing Peiping at the time he issued his instructions to his United Nations delegation but he had since changed his mind. In closing the Ambassador expressed the hope that while these discussions were going on between his government and the United States American officials would refrain from making public statements on the issue. The Secretary emphasized that we were being pressed on this matter and we had to make decisions soon. It was therefore very important that the GRC reach a decision on the question he had earlier put to the Ambassador.22. Ambassador Yeh called on Secretary Rusk on March 22 requesting more detailed information on the U.S. position. Yeh stated that he had received telegrams from Taipei indicating that his government would face extreme difficulties in agreeing to any “two Chinas” formula. He gave Rusk several questions and asked for his comments, but Rusk replied that the questions were procedural ones deriving from broad policy issues; the real question was whether the GRC would insist on an all-or-nothing approach. When Yeh stated that he could not present a plan to his government without saying how it would work, Rusk replied that the United States was not presenting a plan; the nature of any plan that was worked out would depend upon the GRC attitude. (Memorandum of conversation, March 23; ibid., 303/3-2361) See the Supplemennote.

* Source: Department of State, Central Files, 303/3-1761. Secret. Drafted by Martin and approved in S on April 6. The time of the meeting is from the Secretary's Appointment Book. (Johnson Library)

1 Telegram 602 from Dakar, March 15, reported that Senegal's Prime Minister had informed the GRC Charge on March 14 that Senegal had decided to recognize the PRC but that it did not intend to establish diplomatic relations with the PRC and hoped the GRC would maintain its Embassy in Dakar. (Department of State, Central Files, 793.02/3-1561)

2 Ambassador Yeh called on Secretary Rusk on March 22 requesting more detailed information on the U.S. position. Yeh stated that he had received telegrams from Taipei indicating that his government would face extreme difficulties in agreeing to any “two Chinas” formula. He gave Rusk several questions and asked for his comments, but Rusk replied that the questions were procedural ones deriving from broad policy issues; the real question was whether the GRC would insist on an all-or-nothing approach. When Yeh stated that he could not present a plan to his government without saying how it would work, Rusk replied that the United States was not presenting a plan; the nature of any plan that was worked out would depend upon the GRC attitude. (Memorandum of conversation, March 23; ibid., 303/3-2361) See the Supplemennote.