Memorandum of Conversation, by the Special Assistant in the Bureau of Far Eastern Affairs (Bacon)


Subject: British Position on Chinese Representation in ECAFE.

Participants: Mr. Hubert Graves, British Embassy1
Mr. Merchant2
Miss Bacon

Mr. Graves called to leave the attached message from Mr. Bevin to Sir Oliver Franks giving the British position on the question of Chinese representation in ECAFE.3 Mr. Graves explained that the message was in response to inquiries made by Mr. Rusk several days ago and by our Embassy in London.

It was agreed that the message clearly implied that the UK Delegation would be instructed to vote against our proposed resolution in ECAFE to postpone consideration of the Chinese representation question until the GA had acted.

Mr. Merchant said that the position taken was disappointingly rigid in view of Chinese Communist aggression in Korea and of the Chinese Communist defiant attitude toward the UN. Referring to the UK vote this morning in the AEC–CCA Committee in support of the American resolution on Chinese representation and to a similar British vote in the Children’s Fund, he said that the British Delegation in New York had been able to find a way of working out with our Delegation a solution on a procedural basis which both Delegations could support and he added that it would be helpful if the British Delegation in Lahore could be authorized to take a similar approach. The contrast between the British positions on this question in London and in New York was difficult to understand. Miss Bacon added that the British vote in ECAFE may well be crucial. It was not clear to us why the UK felt unable to go along with a procedure which avoided the substantive issue and was in accord not only with the GA resolution of December 14 but also with ECAFE’s desire, expressed at its last meeting, to [Page 228] leave the Chinese representation question for decision by a higher body.4

After explaining that he was not fully familiar with the subject, Mr. Graves said that in his view the statement of British position in the message was categorical and that no purpose would be served by the Embassy’s going back to London about it. He advised that our best course would be to have our Embassy in London make another and urgent approach to the Foreign Office directed specifically to the ECAFE situation to see if some arrangement could not be worked out on a procedural basis which both Governments could support.

  1. . A. Graves, British Counselor of Embassy.
  2. Livingston T. Merchant, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs.
  3. Message not attached to source text, but see the Bevin message, infra. Ernest Bevin was British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. For an informal expression of the views of the British Embassy in Washington regarding the generalities of the Chinese representation question made at this same time, and reaction of Department of State officials thereto, see memorandum of conversation by Ward P. Allen, Special Assistant for United Nations Affairs, Bureau of European Affairs, February 13, printed in volume vii.
  4. This occurred at the Sixth Session of ECAFE, meeting at Bangkok, Thailand, May 16–20, 1950. The specific action took place on May 16, 1950, on the motion of the Thai delegate, and was incorporated into resolution E/CN.11/247. The question of Chinese representation was referred by the Commission “for decision by a higher body of the United Nations”, without reference to the competence of ECAFE to settle the matter itself. For the ECAFE proceedings on this matter, see United Nations document E/CN.11/SR.73 (Department of State Lot File 60 D 463, Box 170). The episode is described in United Nations, Official Records of the Economic and Social Council, Eleventh Session, Supplement No. 8, Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East. Report for the period 6 April 1949–20 May 1950, pp. 27 and 28. (Hereafter cited as ECOSOC (XI), or other sessional number as appropriate; ECAFE public documentation will be cited in the same way.)