Memorandum by the Director of the Office of Chinese Affairs (Clubb) to the Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs (Rusk)


Subject: Advisability of Contacts with Chinese Communist Representatives Scheduled to Appear Before the UN1

Reference is made to the question, which was raised at the Secretary’s meeting of October 24, of the advisability of approaching the Chinese Communist representatives at such a time as they may arrive in New York to appear before the UN.

CA is of the opinion that advantage should be taken of the presence in New York of representatives of the Peiping regime to endeavor to develop through them an unofficial channel for bringing, where desirable, our views to the attention of the Chinese Communist authorities with minimum distortion. It is recalled that we have on several occasions used the Indians as a means for transmitting our views to Peiping. This channel, while it has some obvious advantages, has the serious disadvantage that such views must pass through Mr. Panikkar, the Indian Ambassador at Peiping, who is believed to have a strong emotional bias with respect to the Chinese Communists. It was with this in mind that Ambassador Henderson was authorized [Page 1001] to establish an alternative channel of communication through the Chinese Communist Ambassador at New Delhi. Efforts by Ambassador Henderson to do this came to nothing owing to the unwillingness of the Chinese Communist Ambassador to meet Mr. Henderson or to transmit any expressions of U.S. views to Peiping.

It is very possible, perhaps even probable, that an attempt to approach the Chinese Communist representatives in New York would meet with the same negative response as did Ambassador Henderson’s attempt to approach the Chinese Ambassador at New Delhi. The early experiences of our representatives in China support this tentative assumption. On the other hand there would seem to be sufficient new factors in the situation to justify an attempt.

It is suggested that our approach be neither precipitous nor at a forced pace;2 that discussion of any substantive matters be preceded by general social contact; and that initial discussions relate to matters in which the Chinese Communists have a primary interest.

Initial matters for discussion might include U.S. aerial violations of the Manchurian frontier,3 Sino-Korean frontier problems such as the Yalu River Dam and hydroelectric plant, or perhaps some aspect of Chinese Communist charges of American aggression against China as the Chinese Communist case is developed in the Security Council. Such discussion would fall logically and normally within the jurisdiction of the Communist representatives’ official mission. If it is found possible to discuss these matters of primary interest to the Chinese Communists we might then, if the way seemed open, take up matters of primary interest to the U.S., such as exit permits for American businessmen in Shanghai, the release of Mr. Buol,4 Chinese Communist treatment of American missionary and educational institutions and so forth. If, in turn, discussion of those subjects were possible on a satisfactory basis, we might then give consideration to discussion of political issues of more general interest—excepting, particularly, American recognition. It might, of course, become desirable at any time to use the Chinese Communist representatives in [Page 1002] New York as a channel for bringing our views to the attention of the Peiping authorities in connection with immediate problems which might arise, such as, for example, the release of American prisoners of war if they were moved from Korea into Manchuria.

  1. On September 29, the U.N. Security Council had decided to invite a representative of the People’s Republic of China to attend its meetings—to be held after November 15—on the discussion of that Government’s declaration regarding an armed invasion of Taiwan (Formosa). For related documentation, see vol. vi., pp. 256 ff.
  2. In a manuscript notation, Mr. Merchant indicated his strong agreement with this suggestion.
  3. On October 26, Foreign Minister Chou En-lai forwarded to the Secretary-General of the United Nations a note complaining against violation of the territorial integrity of the People’s Republic of China by U.S. planes on eight occasions between October 15 and 25. On two of these occasions, strafing took place and, in one instance, a bomb was dropped on Chinese territory. Chou demanded that the Security Council take action to stop this aggression, adding: that the Chinese people absolutely could not tolerate this extension of the war toward northeast China. (U.N. document S/1870)
  4. Robert Lawrence Buol, a Civil Air Transport operations chief, in Mengtze, Yunnan Province, was seized by the Chinese Communists in January 1950 and held until 1955.