102. Telegram From the Secretary of State to Ambassador U. Alexis Johnson, at Geneva1

1281. Guidance for November 23 meeting.


Implementation. Acknowledge release three American prisoners,2 but emphasize 14 remain and we continue to be concerned over PRC’s failure carry out commitment permit them expeditiously return. Inform Wang we also concerned over fact British Chargé still unable perform his functions with respect these prisoners. Thirteen of fourteen still have not written Chargé and since PRC has special responsibility provide facilities for prisoners’ communication, if they have not written can only be assumed they prevented from writing. It is obviously absurd to imagine any person confined in prison would not seek to take full advantage Chargé’s efforts to remove impediments to freedom if given opportunity. (We believe this point should be made for the record.)

Requirement that Chargé interview Americans only in accordance rules for relatives is arbitrary and unreasonable. It is obvious attempt defeat purpose of Agreed Announcement. No restrictions whatsoever on freedom of Chinese in US to communicate with Indians nor freedom of Indians to interview Chinese who appeal to them accordance Agreed Announcement.

US cannot accept contention of PRC Vice Minister that question of encountering obstruction in leaving country does not arise in case imprisoned Americans. (Deptel 1248)3 Imprisonment is self-evident and incontrovertible form of obstruction to departure. Since more than two months have passed since PRC pledged Americans could expeditiously return, it is apparent they encountering obstruction in leaving.

FYI O’Neill being asked make above points in Peiping.4 Use of preceding paragraph subject to British concurrence which we hope to have not later than November 22.5 End FYI.

Renunciation of Force. Continue emphasize, as in paragraphs 39 and 40 your 1200,6 that Wang has agreed with you that differences in policy should not lead to war and that statement should be made by both sides renouncing use of force.7 Department considers argumentation your 1200 admirable and believes you should hold to same general line.
Department puzzled by Wang’s failure to bring up embargo last meeting. Would like your views as to reason.
Important keep meetings at least week apart.
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.93/11–1955. Secret; Priority; Limit Distribution. Drafted in CA, cleared by Sebald and McConaughy and, in substance, by Phleger, and approved by Robertson.
  2. The release of two prisoners and one American who was under house arrest was announced on a Peking broadcast November 17.
  3. See footnote 4, Document 99.
  4. Requested in an aide-mémoire which McConaughy gave to the First Secretary of the British Embassy on November 18. (Department of State, Central Files, 293.1111/11–1855)
  5. Telegram 1288 to Geneva, November 21, informed Johnson that the British concurred and were instructing O’Neill to make parallel but somewhat milder representations. (Ibid., 611.93/11–2155)
  6. See footnote 2, Document 100. Paragraphs 39 and 40 read as follows:

    “39. I said I did not see how it helped progress to continue to make charges and countercharges concerning policies of our governments. We both recognized grave and serious differences in our policies. However, I believed we agree on several things. We both determined differences shall not lead to war. Also agreed public statement should be made in this regard. I thought we agreed also that area in which policies are in particularly serious conflict is Taiwan area. Each of our drafts mentions Taiwan area. Also agreed whatever we say should not prejudice peaceful pursuit our policies.

    “40. I said that with such an area of agreement, there seemed to be sufficient room to discuss exactly how we were going to phrase our statement. I had taken his draft and considering his remarks had produced a draft I felt met both points of view.”

  7. McConaughy commented in letter No. 26 to Johnson, November 18:

    “We have a feeling that we may be getting into a fairly tight corner on the renunciation of force item although basically our position is unquestionably sound. It seems to us in FE that we are suffering from our inability to state our precise position fully and frankly to key friendly governments; from the need to pull our verbal punches to some extent at Geneva in order to insure the continuation of the talks; from the increasingly serious misgivings of the Chinese Government (see Taipei’s 463 of Nov. 17 transmitting the note of Foreign Minister Yeh to the Secretary); from the clever way in which the Chinese Communists are attempting to seize the initiative on the renunciation of force item and masquerade as the real sponsors of the renunciation of force concept. We are getting an increasing number of queries as to where we expect to go if the Chinese Communists should unexpectedly agree to sign some form of textually acceptable renunciation of force declaration? Taipei clearly believes that the Communists might be willing to sign some such form of declaration with no intention of observing it longer than it served their purposes. Taipei knows that no such declaration can be self-enforcing and they believe the Chinese Communists would not hesitate to try to rationalize a violation of any wording which might be proposed. Taipei is asking with increasing insistence, ‘Where would you go after you got an agreed announcement on renunciation of force?’” (Department of State, Geneva Talks Files: Lot 72 D 415, Geneva—Correspondence Re US–PRC, 1955–1956)