Paris, December 16, 1963, 10 p.m.
Secto 25. Eyes only for the President.11. President Lyndon B. Johnson; President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas, on November 22. Accompanied by Bohlen and Tyler I had about forty minutes with De Gaulle this morning. Also present were Couve de Murville, Alphand and de la Grandville who served as interpreter.
[Here follows discussion of other subjects, including Southeast Asia.]
I then reverted to the subject of the Communist world and relations between the Soviet Union and China. I said we were concerned at the evidence of Chinese militancy—one aspect of the dispute with the Soviet Union—and that in our talks at Warsaw they were insistent that we should give up Formosa. There had also been the Indian attack and we felt that Hanoi and Peking together had blocked the implementation of the Laotian accords. There was also some evidence that the Chinese were stimulating Sukarno in his present courses of action; they were active in Latin America, particularly with Castro; and finally Chou En-lai was at present in Africa. We felt it important that Peking not be given any impression that any such policy would pay dividends. I mentioned that we had been very glad to hear that France had no intention of recognizing China22. Reference is to a conversation on November 5 between De Gaulle and Ambassador Bohlen, reported in telegram 2222 from Paris, November 5. When Bohlen asked De Gaulle about his views on Communist China, he replied that he had no intention of proceeding with any such step as diplomatic relations “at this time” but that he thought “sooner or later” some relationships would have to be worked out. (Ibid., Central Files, POL 16 CHICOM) but felt it was worthwhile keeping in contact on such developments. De Gaulle then made rather a long statement that with the Chinese-Soviet dispute the Soviets seemed to have calmed down while Peking was taking on “as a trial gallop” the task of promoting revolution, but he doubted if they would be any more successful than the Soviets had been except in Eastern Europe where the armies controlled. He said the question was how the West could turn this to its advantage, whether it was best to leave China alone completely or have certain contacts. He felt that such contacts had helped in the past with Soviet Russia. I replied I could not see much evidence of our influence in our contacts with the Soviets and I had felt that the change in Soviet attitude was due to the confrontation with military power in the West, possibly increased by the attitude of their own people and from the Eastern European countries. After all Moscow had been the most dangerous on Berlin and Cuba. Furthermore there had been no signs that the contacts with Peking such as the extremely friendly ones on the part of India and more informal ones on the part of Japan had had any effect on the Chinese. I told him I thought it would be a great mistake to let the Chinese or their Communist allies get any idea that such policies paid off.
De Gaulle agreed that the Soviets had been the more dangerous of the two but questioned whether they would not have been more so if we allowed them to “stew in their own juice”, offering no alternative except war. He felt that the contacts had certainly not been unuseful. He agreed that India's and Japan's contacts had not changed the Chinese very much, but after all these were “poor” countries which had little to offer China whereas if at some time in the future the West might be in a position to establish relations with China this might be another story.
I pointed out that in Warsaw in nine years of contacts we had seen no interest insofar as Chinese trying to improve relations except at the cost of abandonment of Formosa. De Gaulle significantly said that Formosa would have to be sacrificed by the West (by implication in any agreement with the ChiComs).
In order to button down the French position further I inquired of De Gaulle whether he had any judgment as to the timing of any relationship with ChiComs and how far in the future this was to be since I understood that France was thinking of diplomatic relations for the future. De Gaulle said he could not answer this since it was a question for the future, and it depended on others and not France alone, but wished to assure me “as Secretary of State” that they would talk to the U.S. before any action was taken.
The conversation concluded with a mutual agreement to keep in touch on matters of the Soviet Union and particularly in regard to the Sino-Soviet dispute; and an exchange of amenities including a personal message of regards and good will to you.
* Source: Department of State, Conference Files: Lot 66 D 110, CF 2345. Secret; Immediate. Rusk was in Paris to attend a NATO Ministerial meeting.
1 President Lyndon B. Johnson; President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas, on November 22.
2 Reference is to a conversation on November 5 between De Gaulle and Ambassador Bohlen, reported in telegram 2222 from Paris, November 5. When Bohlen asked De Gaulle about his views on Communist China, he replied that he had no intention of proceeding with any such step as diplomatic relations “at this time” but that he thought “sooner or later” some relationships would have to be worked out. (Ibid., Central Files, POL 16 CHICOM)