Memorandum of Conversation, by the Deputy United States Representative on the Security Council ( Ross )


Subject: Chinese Representation in the United Nations

Participants: Mr. Trygve Lie, Secretary-General of the United Nations
Mr. John C. Ross, United States Mission

Lie called me out of the Security Council Chamber Friday afternoon to discuss this subject. He gave me a paper prepared by Feller and Kerno on “Legal Aspects of Problems of Representation in the United Nations”,1 and said he would like to have our views in further discussion. (Lie apparently gave Rusk a copy of this same paper last Wednesday night.) Lie made the following arguments:

He is very much afraid that unless the Russians are brought back into the United Nations very soon they will withdraw permanently. He considers it essential that action be taken to seat the Chinese Communists and get the Russians back in no later than sometime in March.
The prestige of the United Nations generally and the effectiveness of its organs are suffering serious damage during the absence of the Russians.
He recalled that he had been opposed to relations with Franco-Spain; he now feels he was wrong and that the view which had been expressed to him by un-named American representatives was right, namely, that it was better to be able to talk with people even though you didn’t like them. He applied the same argument to Chinese Communist representation in the United Nations.
Lie said he understood American policy and the reasons for it with regard to recognition of the Chinese Communists and their representation in the United Nations. He did not, therefore, ask or expect United States support in his efforts to get this matter settled. He had learned, however, that the United States Ambassador in Ecuador had been instructed to urge the Ecuadoran Government to hold off on the representation question. He said very emphatically that he did not like this because he did not see that this action was essential to our policy in any way while, on the other hand, it very seriously damaged the effective carrying out of his own responsibilities.

I expressed the following views:

Admitting that the Russians conceivably might be looking for a pretext to withdraw from the United Nations altogether, I did not feel we should exaggerate this point. It seemed to me that the disadvantages from their own point of view of the Russians withdrawing permanently from the United Nations were so great that they would think twice before taking such action. So far as the prestige and effectiveness of the United Nations is concerned, I said that I thought we and many others directly responsible for United Nations matters were perhaps excessively preoccupied with the H-bomb and the question of relations with Russia and that conversely perhaps he and others were unduly pessimistic and did not give enough time and thought and energy to the day-to-day work and solid accomplishments of the United Nations. In any event, I did not see that the problem of Chinese representation and Soviet absence was so serious that we necessarily had to rush ahead with some kind of action next month.

John C. Ross
  1. The text of this memorandum is substantially the same as that transmitted to the Security Council by Secretary-General Lie on March 8, 1950, and printed as UN Doc. S/1466; see United Nations, Official Records of the Security Council, Fifth Year, Supplement for 1 January through 31 May 1950, pp. 18 ff.