310.2/1–2750: Telegram

The Deputy United States Representative at the United Nations ( Gross ) to the Secretary of State


84. On SYG Lie’s invitation Gross1 and Ross2 spent about three hours before and during lunch on Thursday discussing with him question of Russian walkouts and problem of Chinese representation in UN.

Lie’s principal purpose in asking us to call on him was to express, with reference to recent discussions with officers of Department, his very great concern over situation resulting from Russian walkouts from SC and other UN bodies. He said in his view unless problems of seating representatives of Chinese Communist Government were [Page 211] settled within 4 to 6 weeks he was afraid Russians would stay out of UN for good, keep Chinese Communists out and proceed to set up rival organization comprehending perhaps 7 to 8 hundred million people. Consequences Lie envisaged in terms of dividing world sharply in two, destroying thereby basic principles of unity and universality on which UN was founded and increasing probability of war, so serious and preying on his mind to such extent he felt necessity of sharing his thoughts with other members UN and his duty to try devise some means solving present dilemma. In event USSR withdrew from UN others would also leave, including some “middle road” countries, he mentioned India in particular which would not wish to participate in either rival organization but endeavor to maintain neutrality.

Lie said he did not have any evidence to support his strong feeling Russians would stay out permanently if Chinese representation question not settled within four to six weeks, but subsequently in conversation said he had discussed matter with Bebler to get a Communist viewpoint and that Bebler had similar view.

Lie reasoned in effect that motivation Russian walkouts included (a) to obscure seating Yugoslav representative in SC, (b) propaganda value China, USSR posing as real friend of China in terms getting them into UN, and (c) desire to return to SC arm-in-arm with Chinese Communists and their veto. Lie did not respond directly to inquiry whether Russian objective might not be permanent withdrawal regardless what happened concerning Chinese representation. He thought, however, that part of motivation might be to prepare Russian people psychologically for possible permanent withdrawal from UN on theory that if nothing happened, i.e. war, as result of walkout, nothing would happen in event complete withdrawal. We inferred from Lie’s somewhat obscure comments that if objectives indicated (points a, b and c) could not be achieved by Russians in four to six weeks period, enough of their value would be lost from Communist viewpoint to compel them to stay out of UN for good.

On question possibility setting up rival organization, Lie attached importance to apparent association of Sobolev (former UN ASYG, now we understand, head of Soviet UN office) with Mao group in Moscow. Sobolev (it will be recalled he also worked with drafting group in San Francisco3) would be well equipped to develop new organization.

Lie thought there might be some in Moscow who wanted Russia to get out of UN. He found, however, that Malik and Zinchenko4 here [Page 212] seemed anxious to get question Chinese representation settled promptly. Lie has apparently had two conversations with Malik. In first conversation, immediately after Malik’s first walkout, Lie said he raised with Malik question why Soviets raised Chinese question in form unseating Tsiang rather than seating representatives of Communist Government. Telegram from Communist Government designating UN representative followed. Lie apparently had second conversation with Malik within past day or two. We gathered Lie outlined to Malik proposal for dealing with Chinese representation question, as outlined immediately below, and that Malik liked this proposal.

Proposal involves getting Cuban President of Council next month or, failing this, some member of SC that has recognized Communist regime to initiate call for SC meeting within two weeks. Purpose of meeting would be to hear report from Lie or ask him to prepare paper interpreting Article 23 of Charter in order guide SC in determining what is meant by “Republic of China” in present circumstances. We gathered that Lie would bring in interpretation that Republic of China is Communist China, although it was not at all clear exactly how he would go about establishing this point as matter of Charter interpretation. His interpretation would stress difference between question of recognition by individual governments and what he admitted would amount to recognition by UN. This emphasis would be designed, he frankly said, to get over difficulties which Latin American members of Council, in particular, would have so that they could maintain their nonrecognition policy as individual states as long as they liked, but still vote for his interpretation of the Charter. He is very hopeful in this connection that Ecuador and Cuba would be sixth and seventh votes needed to settle question in SC.

Lie said he had discussed his ideas with all members SC except France and India, he apparently talked with Chauvel5 after seeing us (see below). He said he had asked Ribas,6 who accompanied Austin to Habana,7 to try through Alvarez8 to get Cuban President persuaded to Lie’s view and to take matter up with Austin. Lie, realizing reasons why we could not go out and lobby actively, expressed earnest hope we would respond favorably to his ideas when consulted by other delegations. He had asked Cadogan9 to seek London’s support, and he hopes it will be possible to persuade both British and Norwegians to vote for his proposal.

Gross emphasized nubbin of matter seems to be judgment concerning Soviet motives and objectives, saying wise judgment must be [Page 213] based on most careful estimate this factor. We questioned whether Lie’s approach was not premature and hasty and cautioned against getting jittery in situation. We said we were endeavoring to think through matter very carefully as we knew Department would be, and said we would wish further exchange of views.

We also indicated complications arising re other organs of UN pointing out, in particular, that if his interpretation would be applied to Article 23 so far as SC is concerned, it would apply also to Article 86 concerning membership in TC.

At Indian reception last night Sunde (Norway)10 raised with Ross question Lie’s ideas and expressed general approval, indicating somewhat cynically that there was no problem for Norway which, since they have recognized Communists, could easily shift from abstention to vote in favor of them.

Muniz,11 without any indication Lie had been talking with him, raised general problem with Ross at same reception, saying we were confronted with very serious problem choosing between two fundamental alternatives; first, to maintain unity of UN, maintaining thereby contact with Soviet Union and now very importantly with China, or, second, go it alone without Soviet Union and China as organization of western world. When asked which alternative he would choose Muniz said that statemanship requires not admitting the inevitability of war and he thought we must therefore endeavor to maintain the unity of the UN.

Chauvel this morning referred to conversation with Lie on latter’s initiative which was apparently along lines our conversation with Lie yesterday. Additional points were that Malik apparently expressed to Lie disapproval of seizures of foreign government properties in Peiping, indicating they were inspired by irresponsible hotheads and must be described as blunders. Zinchenko apparently also indicated to Lie an adverse reaction to Communist Government recognition Ho-Chi-Minh regime in China [Indochina?].12

Chauvel thought Lie’s proposal “might not be a bad idea”. He had two reasons for this view: first, he had advised his government that in his view it would be desirable to soft-pedal substantive action in UN (the various bodies meeting from time to time, however) to avoid giving Russians any pretext for staying out of UN. He has just received word that his government agrees with this view. Second, Chauvel thought there was something to be said for trying to capitalize on Malik’s apparent desire to get matter settled. In any event, Chauvel doubted if he would be able to give us any reaction by French [Page 214] Government to Lie’s proposal until after Chauvel returns from Paris. He leaves New York on February 4 and is scheduled to return February 11.

Indicating we had whole matter under careful review and would be glad to consult him further, Ross expressed view Lie’s proposed action might be premature and hasty, that it was necessary to maintain calm attitude and that it was impossible for US, of course, to know extent to which attitude of Malik and Zinchenko here accurately reflects views of Soviet Government.

All foregoing is being considered by USUN in preparing estimate of situation referred to in USUN 60, January 20. Our report will be transmitted soonest, probably next week.

  1. Ernest A. Gross, Deputy United States Representative at the United Nations.
  2. John C. Ross, Deputy United States Representative on the Security Council.
  3. For documentation on the United. Nations Conference on International Organization, held at San Francisco, April 25–June 26, 1945, see Foreign Relations, 1945, vol. i, pp. 1 ff.
  4. Constantin E. Zinchenko, United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Security Council Affairs.
  5. Jean Chauvel, Permanent Representative of France at the United Nations.
  6. José M. Ribas, Alternate Representative of Cuba in the Security Council.
  7. Ambassador Austin was in Habana at this time, where he delivered a speech on inter-American cooperation on January 28.
  8. Alberto I. Alvarez, Representative of Cuba on the Security Council.
  9. Alexander Cadogan, Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom at the United Nations.
  10. Arne Sunde, Permanent Representative of Norway at the United Nations.
  11. João C. Muniz, Permanent Representative of Brazil at the United Nations.
  12. Ho Chi Minh was “President of the Provisional Government of the Vietnam Democratic Republic”.