109. Instruction From the Secretary of State to All Diplomatic Missions1



  • Background Information on United States-Chinese Communist Ambassadorial Talks at Geneva

The following background information on the United States-Chinese Communist Ambassadorial talks at Geneva should be used as appropriate on a confidential basis in conversations with key officials of the government to which you are accredited and diplomatic colleagues. The Department particularly desires to scotch speculation that the talks presage recognition of the Chinese Communist regime by the United States.

The original agreement was that the talks would deal first with the return of civilians to their respective countries, then go on to “other practical matters at issue”. On September 10 the two Ambassadors issued an Agreed Announcement in which the Chinese Communists declared that Americans in the Peoples Republic of China [Page 192] who desired to return to the United States were entitled to do so and pledged itself to adopt “further appropriate measures” so that they could “expeditiously exercise their right to return”. The Agreed Announcement also provided that Americans in the Peoples Republic of China who believed they were encountering obstruction in departure might request representations by the British Chargé d’affaires on their behalf. The United States made a parallel declaration with respect to the right of Chinese in the United States to return to the Peoples Republic of China if they desired which provided for Chinese to appeal to the Indian Embassy if they believed their departure was being obstructed.

Of the nineteen Americans still held in prison in Communist China following the issuance of the Agreed Announcement, only five have been released to date. The United States is continuing to press at Geneva and through the British Chargé d’affaires at Peiping for early release of the remainder. The failure of the Chinese Communists to fulfill their commitment to allow Americans to return “expeditiously” is causing the United States Government serious concern.

The United States places no restrictions on the departure of Chinese from the United States. The Department knows of no Chinese who claims his departure is being obstructed and the Indian Embassy has so far made no representations concerning any such case.

Under the second item of the agenda, the Chinese Communists asked for the removal of the United States economic embargo and agreement to talks at the Foreign Minister level. The United States asked for a Chinese Communist declaration renouncing force, and an accounting for 450 military personnel missing from the Korean War, and concerning whose fate we have evidence that the Chinese Communists might have knowledge.

Discussion has centered around the renunciation of force item. The United States has proposed that both parties make similar declarations renouncing the use of force generally, and with particular reference to the Taiwan area. The purpose is to remove the threat of war in the Taiwan area. The Chinese Communists have indicated a willingness to make a general renunciation of the use of force, but so far have adamantly resisted our efforts to get them to apply this to the Taiwan area. They insist that the Taiwan question is domestic and refuse to consider any curtailment of their freedom to use military force if necessary to impose their control over Taiwan. They have demanded the withdrawal of United States forces from the Taiwan area. The United States is continuing its effort to bring them to modify this attitude.

With reference to the proposal for a conference at a higher level, the United States view is that the ambassadorial level is the appropriate one. No proposal for higher level talks could even be considered [Page 193] until the Chinese Communists have permitted all United States citizens to leave, have renounced force in the Taiwan area, and all other practical matters at issue have been disposed of.

The questions of economic embargo and missing military personnel have received little discussion up to the present.

The United States has assured the Government of the Republic of China that it will not discuss at Geneva anything involving the rights, claims and essential interests of the Government of the Republic of China. There has been no discussion of recognition or admission of Communist China to the United Nations, as rumored in the press. Discussion has been strictly limited to subjects mentioned in the preceding paragraphs.

A similar instruction2 is being sent to the following consular posts: Algiers, Auckland, Bombay, Calcutta, Chiengmai, Dacca, Dhahran, Frankfort on the Main, Geneva for Johnson, Genoa, Hamburg, Hong Kong, Istanbul, Jerusalem, Kobe, Kuala Lumpur, Lahore, Madras, Medan, Melbourne, Milan, Montreal, Munich, Naples, Nagoya, Naha, Palermo, Penang, Sao Paulo, Singapore, Stuttgart, Surabaya, Sydney, Toronto, Tunis, Vancouver, Yokohama, Zagreb.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.93/11–3055. Secret. Drafted in CA, cleared and approved in FE, and cleared by Phleger. The source text states that it was cleared with the Secretary, although he did not initial.
  2. CA–4200, November 30. (Ibid.)