Memorandum by the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs (Merchant) to the Officer in Charge of Economic Affairs in the Office of Chinese Affairs (Barnett)1


I have two comments on the draft position paper of February 12 relative to economic sanctions against Communist China. The first of these, which I mentioned to you yesterday, is that as a matter of both tactics and, even more important, support of this Government’s position, the United States representative on the Committee should state the U.S. desire that all UN members should totally embargo trade with China. This statement I think should be followed, in the interest of the realities, by a clear indication that we are not going to stubbornly hold out for extreme action and should concentrate on obtaining as wide an area of general agreement as possible. This point is more one of tactics and presentation than substance.

My second point, however, I fear is more difficult to meet. I don’t see how as a practical matter we can escape having the Committee formulate the list of prohibited items. If each country is allowed to make up its own list, it seems to me that the result in practice will be that no country (except the United States) will embargo more items than appear on the smallest list of the least enthusiastic member. The alternative to this course I realize is unattractive but I think less so than the course proposed.

  1. Copy sent also to the Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs (Rusk).