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

1611. 1. Two-hour 25 minute meeting this morning with no change.

2. Wang was obviously marking time and refused to respond to or be drawn into discussion on renunciation.2

[Page 322]

3. In context making points Deptel 17183 repeated Karachi Tosec 13, I also characterized his position at last meeting and ChiCom March 4 statement4 as constituting retrogression from apparent previous position and stated my understanding their present position was they refused to renounce force even temporarily with respect Taiwan area unless US first agrees to Foreign Minister meeting and that this logically leads question what new conditions and prerequisites would be presented in connection with Foreign Minister meeting, that is, would they consider renunciation binding only up to and during such meeting and if meeting did not result complete concession their views would they then consider themselves free use force? Such position is complete perversion renunciation force principle and glaring reversion to war-like ultimata and holding negotiations under threat by one party of initiating hostilities in absence peaceful surrender by other party. Contrasted with US position particularly as set forth in January 215 and March 66 statements stressing last paragraph both statements.

4. Wang completely failed respond these points stating respective positions fully developed last 20 meetings and their views set forth their March 4 statement to which he had nothing to add. Hoped next meeting I would make choice between their two drafts. I [Page 323] hoped he would correct me if my foregoing statement their position in error.

5. I made very strong statement on implementation, characterizing situation in this field also as retrogression with ChiCom receding to same positions they held before agreed announcement both with respect Americans in China and Chinese in US. During course in [of] give and take I said, “insofar as desires your government with respect to our talks here are concerned, policy continuing to hold 13 as political hostages can only be counterproductive”.

6. He renewed usual charges concerning US “obstruction”, repeated demand for accounting of names he had given me, and Chinese in US, and alleged interception mail from families to Chinese in US, and alleged requirement Chinese apply permanent residence or obtain Taiwan entry permits. In latter connection made and reiterated charge US interfered in Indian Embassy desire make public statement. When I replied US does not have to agree or disagree to Indian Embassy making any public statement it desires within proper sphere its activities diplomatic mission, he said “atmosphere here appears to be somewhat different that in Washington”.

7. In rebuttal my continued stress on 13 he said if they covered by agreed announcement Chinese US prisons were covered and renewed his demand for “accounting”.

8. Next meeting Thursday March 15.

9. Proceeding Prague tomorrow morning returning Tuesday.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.93/3–856. Confidential; Priority; Limit Distribution. Repeated for information to Karachi for the Secretary and Robertson.
  2. In telegram 1614 from Geneva, March 8, Johnson elaborated on his impression of the meeting: “Wang’s performance today’s meeting confirmed my previous feeling they awaiting assessment success their efforts influence us through January 18 and March 4 statements and probably more importantly through GOI during Secretary’s visit.” Johnson added that, dependent upon the reports which the Chinese received concerning the Secretary’s visit to New Delhi, he felt they might move to break off the talks as early as the next meeting. (Ibid.) McConaughy responded in letter No. 34 to Johnson, March 9, in which he indicated that the Department did not see the need to alter the American position: “We don’t see how we can give you any variant to freshen the atmosphere at the next meeting. It is vexing to have to waltz around the floor to the same old music for the umpteenth time. We understand and share your antipathy for this business but our strategy requires us to stand fast and do nothing to precipitate a walkout. Your pertinacity will put an extra star in your crown.” (Ibid., Geneva Talks Files: Lot 72 D 415, Geneva—Correspondence Re US–PRC, 1955–1956)
  3. Telegram 1718 to Geneva, March 5, provided the Department’s guidance for the March 8 meeting: “Although Chinese Communist statement of March 4 may indicate approach turning point in Geneva talks, we wish to proceed along established lines as if break not anticipated. Your basic tactic should be to keep onus for any prospective rupture squarely on Wang while maintaining integrity our position. You should pitch your discussion in moderate key at same time avoiding defensive posture and maintaining continuous pressure on Wang on both repatriation and renunciation issues.” (Ibid., Central Files, 611.93/3–556)
  4. See the editorial note, supra.
  5. For text of the statement relating to the Geneva talks released by the Department on January 21, see Department of State Bulletin, January 30, 1956, pp. 164–166.
  6. See the editorial note, supra. The final paragraphs of the January 21 and the March 6 statements are identical and read: “The United States, for its part, intends to persist in the way of peace. We seek the now overdue fulfillment by the Chinese Communists of their undertaking that the Americans now in China should be allowed expeditiously to return. We seek this not only for humanitarian reasons but because respect for international undertakings lies at the foundation of a stable international order. We shall also seek with perseverance a meaningful renunciation of force, particularly in the Taiwan area.”