320.2–AC/1–2051: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the United States Mission at the United Nations


643. Dept appreciates desire UK and other Dels obtain some indication our thinking re steps against China which we wld advocate in CMC, before they commit themselves to res condemning Chi Commies along lines Deptel 632, Jan 13.1 While our examination this problem is not yet complete, fol tentative views are sufficiently crystallized for use in discussions with friendly Dels.

Action which CMC might recommend to GA falls under three gen headings.

Military.—From outset, US has consistently sought to prevent extension of conflict beyond borders of Korea, and UN Unified Command has refrained, under greatest provocation and at considerable cost to UN forces, from ordering attacks on Chi territory. US will continue to seek confinement of hostilities to Korea and in present [Page 1886] circumstances wld not contemplate asking CMC to recommend any mil operations against Chi territory. Additional points re mil implications of proposed res have been transmitted in separate tel.
Economic.—We have ourselves applied complete embargo on trade with China. We wld wish to have CMC explore feasibility of application of economic sanctions by all other UN Members. We are aware that certain European, Middle Eastern and Asian countries, notably India and UK, will probably express strong objection to any effort impose full embargo, on political as well as economic grounds. We are therefore will to accept initially, in order preserve greatest possible degree of free world unity, recommendation that Members apply selective embargo on export to China of key items for use Chi Red Army and directly serving Chi warmaking potential. These items wld certainly include petroleum products, munitions, and equipment and commodities directly employed in production of munitions. Such a selective embargo is in our view an indispensable and irreducible minimum. It wld have comparatively little effect on the agrarian, largely self-sufficient economy of bulk of civilian China, but wld tend to hamper support and extension of Chi mil operations. It wld not appreciably increase burden on Western European suppliers, or cause them additional administrative difficulties. (FYI these suppliers are already applying export controls of this character against China without public announcement, as element of East-West trade restriction. These controls are known only to US, Canada, UK, Fr, Denmark, Italy, West Germany, Neth, Belgium, Luxemburg, and Norway, as participants in org for control of trade with Sov bloc, and shld not be mentioned to any other Dels.) Since selective embargo cld be recommended to Members within relatively short period, we cld start with that, leaving for subsequent study desirability and need of more complete trade embargo as now applied by US.
We do not wish to advocate stronger economic program at this time, even for bargaining purposes, as we believe foregoing considerations are valid reasons for limiting our position at this stage to minimum and pressing most strongly for it.
Political.—While in our opinion we wld be fully justified, in view of Chinese Commie conduct, in seeking a UN recommendation that Members who now recognize Chi Commies shd rupture diplomatic relations with them, we are not planning at present to apply pressure for such an intl political expression of condemnation because we realize this wld be a formal gesture not worth the strong pressure and resentments involved. We wld urge upon CMC that it recommend that Members which have not yet recognized Chi Commie regime shd not [Page 1887] recognize that regime, and that Member states which have not yet sent Ambs or Mins to Peiping shd not do so, as long as Chi aggression continues. (Pls discuss suggestion re Ambs and Mins first with UK Del and report reactions before raising with other Dels.) This wld provide sufficient non-Sov representation in China to handle free world interests; wld prevent Sovs from becoming sole channel of communication with outside world; and shd avoid strong adverse reaction from India, Sweden and UK which we wld anticipate if we sought complete diplomatic break.
We wld also assume that CMC wld recommend that Chi Commies not be seated in UN organs and not be permitted to participate as reps of Republic of China in UN activities. Together with this, we wld expect CMC to recommend that GA adopt declaration that UN and its Members wld not recognize legality any territorial change or political situation brought about as a consequence of Chi Commie aggression in Korea.

We recognize that any action along lines envisaged in preceding paras wld involve certain concomitant problems and difficulties which wld have to be worked out either in CMC or through diplomatic channels.

We believe program of foregoing type might hamper Chi mil preparations for future campaigns and increase drain on Sovs to supply Chi Red Army, and wld enable free world to exert continuing pressure on Chi Commies to change their policies and seek an accommodation with UN on acceptable terms. We are under no illusions that such a program will itself bring Chi Commies to their knees or noticeably affect Chi mil operations in Korea in near future. It is important not to underestimate moral effect of collective UN action to apply sanctions against Chi Commies, either in China, in rest of Sov bloc, or in outside world. Suggestions made in this tel are designed to maintain UN authority while preserving cohesion of forces working for collective security.

No commitment shd be made as to additional recommendations which we might wish to put before CMC in light of developing circumstances.2

  1. For the full text of this message, see p. 74.
  2. These instructions were supplemented in telegram 684 to New York, February 2, not printed, which suggested that the Mission not consult with other delegations on the subject of possible sanctions against Communist China until there had been opportunity for further consultations with the United Kingdom (320.2–AC/2–251). In telegram 689 to New York, February 6, not printed, the Department informed the Mission that it was initiating discussions with the British Embassy in Washington on February 7 with respect to a possible program of sanctions (320.2–AC/2–651).