Memorandum of Conversation, by Ward P. Allen of the Bureau of European Affairs


Subject: Possible UN Sanctions against Chinese Communists

Participants: Mr. C. A. Gerald Meade, Counselor, British Embassy
Mr. K. R. C. Pridham, Second Secretary, British Embassy
Mr. Harding Bancroft—UNP1
Mr. David Popper—UNP
Mr. U. Alexis Johnson—NA2
Mr. Gardner Ranney—BNA
Mr. Ward Allen—EUR

Summary. UK Foreign Office preliminary views are that any diplomatic [Page 1912] or political sanctions are useless, superfluous or harmful, although they would find unobjectionable a refusal to grant de jure recognition to territorial gains resulting from Peiping’s aggression. Explaining our position re a ban on UN representation3 and further diplomatic recognition, we urged their further consideration of these matters and in turn agreed to reconsider our own views regarding the withholding of diplomatic representatives of those countries which have recognized the Communist regime. Discussion of possible economic sanctions is to take place as soon as the UK representatives receive awaited instructions.

Following a brief statement of the general approach of the US toward the work of the ad hoc Collective Measures Committee, Mr. Meade stated the UK position as set forth in the attached paper.4 In the course of the discussion the following additional points were brought out:

General. In response to the UK view that diplomatic sanctions would be useless or counter-productive, we expressed the view that diplomatic measures of some sort are a logical consequence of the declaration of the Chinese Communists as aggressors and are desirable both to register the moral condemnation of their continuance of the aggression as a warning that they cannot expect full membership in the international community so long as they continue their present course, and that, coupled with economic measures and the continuance of military action in Korea, diplomatic measures should help induce a modification of Chinese Communists attitude and deter possible action in other areas.
Recommendations for Maintenance of Status Quo on Recognition and on Seating in the UN. Considerable discussion failed to produce agreement on these points. The UK representatives expressed the view that, regardless of the theoretical appropriateness of such measures, the consequences would be harmful, both in terms of the reaction of the Chinese Communists themselves in driving them into the arms of Moscow and of the attitude of a number of Asian countries. The latter regard US action in Formosa as only somewhat less reprehensible aggression than Chinese action in Korea since in the Asian view the US has interfered militarily in a civil war in order to defend a losing regime which we ourselves had publicly acknowledged as discredited and bankrupt. Such diplomatic measures against the Peiping Government as a ban on seating and on further recognition would be [Page 1913] seen as a further effort to shore up diplomatically the fallen Nationalist regime. We pointed out that refusal to seat the Communists in the UN until they have, so to speak, purged themselves of their contempt is not so much a retributive sanction as the minimum necessary concomitant of recognizing their aggression against the UN. We suggested that if, as seems clear, the necessary majority for seating them will not be forthcoming in any event there could be no harm in this decision being formalized. The UK representatives observed, however, that, just as with UN action regarding Spain, formal decisions of such nature make more difficult any subsequent modification or reversal at some future time. This they felt highly undesirable. It was recognized on the other hand that if any GA decision barring seating were to be qualified by the phrase “so long as their aggression continues” this might be some encouragement that in the future repentance would bring admission. We referred to the greater effect on the Chinese Government and people of a formal declaration by the UN than a simple de facto continuance of the status quo.
In summary, it was recognized that the wisdom of such diplomatic steps depend on a balance of the above factors and that our differences of view arise from the differing degrees of importance which we and the UK attach to these factors.
Recommendations for withholding Diplomatic Representatives of those Countries which have Recognized. The UK representatives were critical of this proposal as illogical and ineffectual and pointed out that the same arguments used against full rupture of diplomatic relations would argue in favor of permitting countries which have already recognized to send chiefs of mission to Peiping if they so desired. We agreed to reconsider our position on this point.
Declaration of Refusal to Recognize Changes brought about by the Aggression. There was little discussion of this point since the UK regarded it as unobjectionable. We pointed out that it involved refusal to recognize political situations as well as territorial changes brought out as a consequence of the Chinese Communists aggression.
Proposal for Economic Sanctions. Although this subject was reserved for discussion at the next meeting, the UK representatives indicated guardedly that the UK might be willing to agree through COCOM to the addition of List II items to the List I items now embargoed to China by COCOM countries. We stated that in our view secret action by COCOM countries without the knowledge of and accompanying action by the UN would, however desirable itself, be insufficient for purposes of the UN resolution and of the psychological effect on the Chinese Communists. We outlined briefly the general US position on economic sanctions.

  1. Director, Office of United Nations Political and Security Affairs.
  2. Deputy Director, Office of Northeast Asian Affairs.
  3. For documentation on the question of Chinese representation in the organs of the United Nations, see vol. ii, pp. 209 ff.
  4. Not printed.