129. Telegram From Ambassador U. Alexis Johnson to the Department of State1

1364. 1. Wang responded my prepared statement (mytel 1362)2 at opening 32d meeting January 12 by saying he had listened my statement this morning in which I had reviewed course discussion on Item Two. He had listened very carefully but could not hear anything new or constructive in statement.

2. Wang said this applies in particular to my remarks which discussed his draft of December 1. He recalled that when he introduced December 1 draft, I had expressed welcome and had said it represented considerable advance in discussions. We have had prolonged discussion this matter of issuing announcement on this question.

3. Wang said he had glanced over amended draft I had presented this morning3 and while leaving aside details of wording and language, he noted that question of principle still remains. He noted I was again claiming alleged right of so-called individual and collective self-defense in Taiwan area.

4. Wang said US is today occupying island of Taiwan which Chinese territory. Under these circumstances US has absolutely no right speak of any self-defense in Taiwan area.

5. Wang said in my statement this morning I had made reference to fact US is member of UN and also made reference to number international treaties and pacts, but all this could not defend position of US in occupying territory of other countries. If US could claim right to self-defense in Taiwan area, Wang could say there is no more justice in world.

6. Wang said his side has long expressed itself unmistakably on this matter, that it would never accept this position. Therefore he said that amendments presented by me at today’s meeting unreasonable and unacceptable to his side. Such amendments as had been put forward this morning would not help in any way in settlement of matter before us. Nor would they help bring closer views of two sides.

7. Wang said I might recall that during discussion of second item it was US which initiated proposal of making announcement on renunciation source. PRC side has repeatedly met views of US side and [Page 260] put forward new draft of December 1. Thus it could be said PRC side has moved several steps forward on this matter.

8. Wang said in this draft of PRC side it clearly stated that on basis of UN Charter, both sides should settle disputes between them by peaceful means without resorting to threat or use force. This not only conforms with desire of people of our two countries but also conforms with the desires of peaceloving peoples of world.

9. Wang said however for three meetings in succession US side has failed make any comments on his draft and fact that after long recess US side should suggest such terms and wording as had long been categorically rejected by PRC side could not but cause doubt as to whether US side has sincere desire arrive at agreement.

10. Wang said at same time he wanted point out that recently American military aircraft have been making encroachment on their territorial air and American “top brass” have gone to Taiwan to step up military preparations. All this conclusively proves that US bent on increasing tension in Taiwan area.

11. Wang said further, according press reports, US Air Force Secretary Quarles has gone so far as to indicate that outlying islands around Taiwan are American bases in Far East.4 Thus it apparent that it intention of US side to require PRC side to recognize status quo of American occupation Taiwan as well as coastal islands controlled by Chiang Kai-shek clique. This position of US side can never be tolerated by PRC side.

12. Wang said all these events cannot but alarm PRC side and create doubts among Chinese as to whether US side is genuinely sincere in stated desire settle disputes between two countries.

13. Wang said, in view of fact that US is creating tension and in view of attitude of US side in deliberately stalling talks, all of which not in conformity with purpose and aims these talks, therefore PRC side demands that these meetings be public so that issues may be judged by world opinion. Also PRC side is obliged give account to Chinese people of proceedings these talks. That was PRC side’s opinion on question we had just discussed.

14. I said in reply that first I didn’t believe they’d had sufficient time fully consider my suggested changes and that I hoped they would do so. I thought probably first question between US, often discussed here, is question of whether we considered statement applied to Taiwan area. My suggestion from beginning on October 8 was that we make this specifically clear.

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15. I said my understanding of their position had always been that they would consider such statement as applicable to Taiwan area. However, they had objected to form in which it was previously made on grounds this would prejudice their position on Taiwan area.

16. I said that I had stated in as many ways as I possibly could that our intention was not to get them to say anything that would prejudice pursuit of their policies by peaceful means, that this was made clear in our October 8 statement and our November 10 draft, but that they had objected to form in which it was set forth in that draft.

17. I said we were both agreed that most serious problem facing our two sides was precisely in Taiwan area, and that question therefore appeared to me to be not whether any agreement applied to Taiwan area but whether it clearly stated this.

18. I said that they had talked previously, and at great length this morning, of sincerity, I said my government had over and over proposed and I again proposed this morning that both sides sincerity be demonstrated by specifically relating our agreement to Taiwan area. This would assure world which as he had rightly said had longed for peace, that neither side had any concealed reservations in this regard.

19. I said I had over and over pointed out problem wasn’t one of form of words which either side variously interprets, but lay in reaching genuine agreement which could be put into words. To do otherwise certainly could not contribute to peace. I was reluctant to place interpretation that might well be placed on their adamant refusal to permit any mention of Taiwan area.

20. I then said in regard to second point—mention of individual and collective self-defense—I would have considered they would have regarded it as important as we did. It was my understanding their government did not deny right of individual and collective self-defense to itself or to any other country. My understanding had been that their side objected to form of our November 10 draft because they felt it prejudiced their position on Taiwan area. Again, in honest effort to meet their point on this, in this draft we had tried to introduce this idea in form that would not do so.

21. I suggested that we go over exactly what that second para said. What it said was we were determined to settle our disputes by peaceful means and that certainly neither of us objected to that. Then it said we would not resort to force in Taiwan area nor elsewhere. This was certainly clear and specific and I could not see why there could be any objection to that language. It then said that in stating this principle both sides wished to make it clear it was without prejudice to right of individual and collective self-defense. This [Page 262] was stated as general principle and I could not see what possible objection there could be to its inclusion in draft.

22. I said this second para as presently drafted would go as far as words could to show there was understanding between us. That if there was objection as to wording that revealed understanding between us was not as clear as I had thought.

23. I said they [we?] again this morning had discussed our dispute in Taiwan area and certainly our first task was to make certain this dispute did not lead to hostilities. If threat of force was clearly removed from that dispute, there was hope questions between us could, in that atmosphere, be discussed and resolved. I said draft I had proposed this morning should accomplish this purpose and I had hoped they would give it further study in light of my remarks.

24. I said I was not exactly clear about what they meant by their proposal to make our meetings open. I understood that in normal international usage, “open” meant public would attend our meetings. Or was their proposal that at close of each meeting press would be given full account of meeting by each of us.

25. I said in either event it was difficult for me to see how this could contribute to progress of our discussions. It seemed to me in either of these events, it would tend to make our meetings platforms from which each would speak to his public, rather than place for our negotiating and reaching understanding.

26. I said I was certainly willing that our respective positions be laid before public. I was certainly willing that public be informed of their categorical and sweeping rejection of any mention of Taiwan area in any statement of agreement growing out of our discussions. I was sure public would have difficulty in understanding that in three months which had passed since we had made our proposal, their government was still unwilling to make it clear it did not have concealed reservations on Taiwan area in any statement on renunciation of force.

27. I said that however, I didn’t see how all of this would contribute to our making further progress in our discussion and if this was attitude of their government, I wondered whether it really desired that we make progress. As I as well as my government was interested in making progress, I was unable to agree that we abrogate our agreement that nature of these meetings be private, and I was unable to agree either that meetings be open to public or press be informed substance each meeting.

28. I said I still felt interests and relations between two of us and cause of peace could best be served by keeping our discussions on frank open level that was possible under present arrangement and by informing general public of our agreements when we had reached [Page 263] them, rather than by informing the world of our disagreements as they came up here.

29. Wang said that other side had just asserted that Chinese side had not had sufficient time to study draft presented by US side. As to ideas US side has brought up, Chinese side had always been willing to give full consideration to those which were constructive, but he had to say that draft presented today did not contain anything new or constructive. All those amendments AS [US] side had presented that morning had been subject to long and tedious discussions, and during course of these Chinese side had on many occasions expressed its firm opposition.

30. Wang said he was sure US Ambassador was fully acquainted with course of discussions, in which it could be seen clearly how far Chinese side had moved and how the US side still stuck to its original position without making any progress. Views presented by US side had repeatedly been rejected by Chinese side, yet they have again been advanced, and Chinese side could not give consideration to them.

31. Wang said that in particular, he noted that US side had again advanced point concerning individual and collective self-defense. Naturally, it was a matter of principle that every state was entitled to right of self-defense and Chinese were prepared to recognize this. However, question was as to where it was to be applied, because there can be no objection if US exercises this right on its own territory.

32. Wang said that if, on other hand, it were on territory of another country, then certainly it could lay no claims to self-defense. When Japan in 1937 began its aggression against China, she also claimed this action was in self-defense. However, no people in world then recognized that as such and none could be persuaded that Japan’s action was taken in self-defense. Therefore, there should be a clear definition and understanding as to this word self-defense and this word must not be arbitrarily abused.

33. Wang said that as to question US side had raised regarding whether peaceful solution of disputes between our two countries applied to Taiwan area, as he had repeatedly declared this did concern Taiwan area. The peaceful solution of disputes between two countries also applied to Taiwan area.

34. Wang said as to openness of meetings: it was not meant that public would be admitted to this conference room. But he meant the content of our discussion be released to press. Hence, as US side clearly recalled, at outset of talks he had followed US suggestion that these talks should be held private and this arrangement have no set time limit. The Chinese side throughout has observed these two rules [Page 264] in hope that it would permit full exchange of views, frankly, and would settle issues between us, and finally reach agreements.

35. Wang said Chinese side felt these rules had been useful to our discussion in initial stages, and facts showed that after forty days discussion we did reach our first agreement on the return of civilians. That also showed there was common desire between two sides to arrive at agreement and Chinese had expressed their welcome to such a spirit. Thus it showed that provided both sides shared a common desire to solve their common issues, these issues would be capable of resolution. For example, last September between Soviet Union and German Federal Republic. As we knew, relations were rather tense; however, after one week’s discussion they did arrive at an agreement5 simply because of their common desire to reach an agreement, and hence there were favorable results.

36. Wang said that since last September 14 we had begun to discuss Item Two. It was now four months. This was not a short time. If there did exist common desire between two sides to settle issues between them, he should say that the two would have been able to reach many agreements instead of only one agreement. However, after four months both still found themselves deadlocked in the same place, and found themselves incapable of agreeing on simple announcement after all this time.

37. Wang said questions between us not only concern peoples of our two countries but also concern people of whole world. They, however, are not informed about our talks and of what has taken place. Now people ask why after such long time discussion, you people have obtained no result. As to Chinese side, they have always wanted an agreement to be reached between two so that Chinese government could make account to its people as to what had happened. We have wasted lots of time. Chinese side considers there has been deliberate stalling in talks. This is why Chinese side suggested we make meetings open: so that people will realize what issues between us are. That is what Chinese side considers responsible attitude toward people.

38. I said he had said that if we shared common desire to reach agreement we should be able to do so. I most thoroughly agreed. That is what I had been trying to find out.

39. I said clear back on October 8 I had said that US was willing to make declaration that we were determined our differences should not lead to war. I made it clear that US was desirous and willing, in [Page 265] order that there be no misunderstanding between us or in world, that this would specifically apply to area in which our most serious dispute existed, that is area of Taiwan. I made it clear this did not involve in any way and it was not intention US in these talks involve rights and interests third parties. Nor was there any intention to prejudice peaceful pursuit of our several national policies. Yet after three months their government still unwilling publicly to make such statement. It was difficult to understand why, if Chinese considered that such statement applied to Taiwan area, as he had stated, why he would be unwilling to do so.

40. I said I did not agree that we had not made progress—I believed we had made some. I believed discussions had been useful. Insofar as responsibility for failure thus far to agree on text of announcement on renunciation of force—it is very clear.

41. Wang said US side had remarked that our exchange views had been useful, but he did not see how it had been useful. If it were really useful, it should have been demonstrated in progress toward solution of issues between us.

42. Wang said as to wording of text, if phrase concerning right to individual and collective self-defense could be removed, then Chinese side could give consideration to mention of Taiwan area. However, if we fail reach agreement on text of declaration, responsibility squarely on US side.

43. I asked if he objected to principle of individual and collective self-defense.

44. Wang said that principle was all right but could not apply to Taiwan area. US attempting to exercise this right in Taiwan area would be abuse.

45. I asked if he intended to tell United States in what countries it could have arrangements for individual and collective self-defense. As I understood it, their country had individual and collective self-defense arrangements with other countries but I had never raised question here.

46. Wang said they had such arrangements but they had them on their own territory and they had never gone thousands of miles across sea to US. Suppose Chinese had military strength to occupy San Francisco and then clamored about self-defense. Could US consent to this?

47. I asked whether I could understand that they had no objection to principle but felt its mention in this context prejudiced their position in dispute between us in Taiwan area.

48. Wang said it was not thus. Chinese agree that every country has this right of self-defense, but question is not that this prejudices their position but that US has no right to claim self-defense in [Page 266] Taiwan area. And in exactly same manner China has no right to set foot on San Francisco and claim self-defense.

49. I said that I did not believe he had gotten point of my question. Question of validity of our defense arrangements in Taiwan area was matter of dispute between us. Chinese govt had one view, my government had another. I did not purpose [propose?] to discuss or try to resolve this problem with him. That was element in differences of views we had respecting Taiwan area. As I had told him, I had no intention demanding any statement from them that would prejudice their view in that regard. What I was saying was it was desirable we both make it clear we weren’t thereby renouncing our respective rights of self-defense. I had tried to accomplish both purposes in this draft. If Chinese have suggestions as to another method of reaching this, I was willing listen.

50. Wang said in whatever way I might put this matter, present US occupation Taiwan was flagrant violation of international law. No matter how US was trying to defend itself, history would pass final judgement. US had asked whether Chinese side had any other views on draft announcement. He said his side had made its greatest effort and could not go further. As Wang had said, if US would accept their proposal to remove individual and collective self-defense from text, then Chinese would give consideration to draft. Otherwise, they could only consider that US was deliberately obstructing issuance of such announcement.

51. I said how he could call inclusion of statement of what I thought was universally recognized principle of individual and collective self-defense obstruction, I could not understand. I had thought they would have considered it of equal importance. As I had made clear, I would be glad to consider any other formula they would like to propose. I wanted to be clear: was it that under no circumstances whatever and under no conditions that they would consider inclusion of any such phrases in any statement we might make?

52. Wang said that dispute between us in Taiwan area was what was under discussion and in this respect they could not acknowledge US right to individual and collective self-defense. It was matter of principle. This was not acceptable. Question was not that there should be any further suggestions from Chinese side but from the US side. And new suggestions should come from US side.

53. I said that I entirely disagreed and that unless we both here were willing together to work things out, I did not see how it was possible to reach agreement. Negotiation was not a matter of unilateral concessions, it was a matter of attempts to reach common agreements. I had, with these few minor changes, accepted form and words of their draft. This contrasted strongly with their refusal to accept my November 10 draft even as basis of discussion. As I saw [Page 267] it, principal question between us was whether there should be any mention of individual and collective self-defense in any agreement. I had tried to do so in manner agreeable to them. I had expressed willingness to consider any other formula that they considered would better fit their position. It was hard for me to see how I could go further.

54. Wang said his points had also been made clear. He could go no further than that.

55. I said that it did not seem that any further discussion today was useful. I had nothing further on this if he had not.

56. Wang said he had made his position very clear on this matter.

[Here follow paragraphs 57–88, which set forth Ambassador Johnson’s prepared statement on implementation, the two Ambassadors’ discussion of that subject, and a concluding exchange in which Ambassador Wang stated that his government intended to make a public statement on their discussions of agenda item 2 and Ambassador Johnson stated that the United States would have to consider making a reply. The next meeting was set for January 19.]

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.93/1–1256. Confidential; Priority; Limited Distribution. Transmitted in five sections.
  2. In telegram 1362 Johnson transmitted the text of his prepared statement, which followed the outline sent to him in telegram 1465, supra.
  3. See footnote 7, supra.
  4. The New York Times of January 8, 1956, quoted Quarles as saying, in response to a question whether he thought the Communists would attack the Nationalist-held offshore islands, that they must recognize that the islands were “part of a global position” and that it would be “most unwise” of them to risk an attack.
  5. Reference is to an agreement to establish diplomatic relations between the Soviet Union and the German Federal Republic which the two countries reached during talks held in Moscow September 9–13 between delegations headed by Premier Bulganin and Chancellor Adenauer. The text of the communiqué issued in Moscow on September 13 is in Documents on International Affairs, 1955, pp. 251–253.