766. Telegram 611 from Geneva1

[Facsimile Page 1]

611. From Johnson.

I opened 63rd with prepared statement:
At last meeting I again referred manner in which your authorities seem steadily have nullified each of provisions announcement [Typeset Page 1277] until it has ceased have any substance with respect Americans your country who were and still are being prevented returning their country. I again point out unwillingness your authorities resolve this first simple straightforward question we were called upon deal with, as well as carry out first agreement reached between us, cannot but raise serious doubts concerning intent your government carry out its agreements and resolve other questions.
However, instead taking action remove these doubts I regret note since last meeting your authorities seem be continuing their attitude of not only ignoring this agreement but even ignoring fact you and I have been meeting here for past sixteen months with mutual agreement our first order business was return civilians.
In July last year on eve beginning our talks your Prime Minister made public statement which was widely interpreted as indicating desire and willingness quickly resolve question Americans detained your country permitting them return. He was quoted to effect that number Americans detained your country was small and speedy resolution problem their return should be possible. I was accordingly willing accept your proposal with regard announcement between us on understanding this would, as stated in announcement “expeditiously” resolve question as also stated in announcement, “Americans who desired return”. However, it has not done so.
It seems me we have rather now almost come back in full circle from where we started as far as ten still detained Americans concerned.
Have noted recent statements your Prime Minister in which he again saying number Americans is small, is again making [Facsimile Page 2] statements about possibilities their release as if we had never entered into agreement September 10 last year. He has also ignored fact my government has not only carried out agreement but even gone beyond its terms meet your point of view. However, it not my purpose here attempt edit or correct public statements your officials. Also, as have often said here, it never been my intention specify your authorities manner or procedures they should take implement their commitment under announcement. That something which only they can decide. However, it been and will remain my intent insist they do implement that agreement and permit those still detained return my country. I do this not only for sake these Americans but also for importance that respect for this agreement has in determining course our future relations.
I, therefore, hope this morning you in position make clear statement on intentions your authorities with respect this agreement and ten Americans still being detained.
Wang replied greatly regretted my statement this morning did not seem contain any new constructive views. I had made many unjustified charges against Chinese Government on question return civilians [Typeset Page 1278] which he could not possibly accept. At opening these talks last year Chinese Prime Minister did state number Americans in China small and problem could be resolved easily. During more than year of negotiations here his government exactly been settling problem in accordance spirit that statement made by Premier. As result great majority Americans in China already returned as Premier made clear in statement. If we examined record of handling question return civilians by Chinese and American Governments, facts clearly showed Chinese Government exactly worked in accordance spirit agreement and made many efforts this respect. On other hand, on question return civilians, side which should be reprimanded is entirely US Government instead Chinese Government. Therefore, it is up to US Government make further efforts on this question present moment. I had just observed we seem to have traveled in circle and come back to point when started these talks. But blame not his side. It my side which to blame because it had consistently chosen delaying tactics. Now that year 1956 coming to close he regretted say our talks not been able make any more progress than had year before.
Wang continued, question which side willing and ready resolve issues and which not should be determined by actual facts. No empty charges or words can determine this matter. At very beginning discussion on second item agenda his side put forward proposal for holding Sino-American FMC. It always been his view such conference would play decisive role in easing and settling tensions and disputes in Taiwan area. Regretted say, however, my govt up to now failed respond to or accept this reasonable proposal.
Wang continued (from prepared text) it also hard understand if my side genuinely desired settle disputes and improve relations, why my side still had not responded to simple and reasonable proposal put forward by his side Aug 21 this year proposing lifting embargo. However American people did not share this view of mine. They properly feel lifting embargo and restoration traditional trade relations between China and US advantageous to both sides. He did not pretend speak for American people but what had read in American press indicates American people want to do away with obstructions to trade. Mr John Coleman, President US Chamber Commerce at interview in November expressed self in favor lifting embargo and restoring Sino-American trade ties. Also noted tenth American Assembly held New York not long ago expressed same view. Such views proper expression desires American people. As he had previously told me, in imposing unreasonable embargo against China my govt did not succeed in causing China any formidable difficulties. This did not however [Facsimile Page 4] absolve US of unrighteousness of embargo policy. Therefore it essential embargo must be lifted before minimum basis Sino-American relations could be established. They felt sooner my govt adopted such reasonable outlook, better.
Wang continued, neither had my side responded to proposal for promotion human contacts cultural exchange made by his side Sept 22. My side had thus shown lack willingness reach even limited agreement such as this. In taking such line preventing normal exchange my govt could not make self popular. Above mentioned American Assembly had also recommended my govt permit American newsmen scholars visit China also advocated increased interflow culture and information. Such were exactly ideas covered by his Sept 22 proposal and they felt these desires American people reasonable and proper.
Wang continued, if US had genuine desire resolve problems it should make progress in second item agenda. It made unfounded futile charges instead taking action in discussing those specific proposals which could be easily resolved and which in interest both our people—such manner conducting these talks futile. If US really wanted settle problems it should express views these proposals his side. They continued await response my govt these proposals.
I replied he seemed to have missed point I had tried make again this morning on relationship of first agreement between us on civilians and other proposals which he had made. He had also seemed ignore fundamental relationship to question renunciation force and agreement settle our differences by peaceful means only. Again wanted stress until these [Facsimile Page 5] fundamental matters resolved, these subsidiary matters could not fall into place. I had all along and still expressed willingness discuss and do best resolve any other subsidiary matters which properly come within terms reference our talks, once fundamental matter resolved. Could not be denied it had been continued unwillingness his govt resolve these fundamental matters which had continued for all this time prevent us from going on to other matters. Even before he and I met here our govts agreed first matter to be settled was return civilians. I had made it very clear right from beginning these talks that my interest not in words and appearances of agreement—my interest was in resolving this question. My govt demonstrated its good faith and took action to resolve this question even before he and I met here by removing admitted restrictions which had theretofore been placed on departure from US some few Chinese students. He had indicated to me here in 1954 and his govt indicated through consular level talks here as well as through public statements that this was their primary interest. Thus rather than proposing formulae for public statements, my govt took concrete action resolve this question in which he had indicated interest.
I continued when he had raised question concerning Chinese alien criminals in American prisons, my govt also took concrete action resolve that. As had previously informed him there not now in prison any Chinese alien who desired return his country. We took all these actions without condition, without demanding concessions, as our [Typeset Page 1280] earnest desire quickly resolve this problem. We did this frankly in hope his govt would on own initiative take corresponding action to solve problem of Americans imprisoned his country. It could easily have done so if it had desired resolve this question and this whole matter which had continued be irritant in our relations could have been disposed of in first few days our talks. However, he had insisted on public agreement on this subject and third party arrangement which would be able determine facts. As had pointed out to him at time, that agreement in self solved nothing. Only implementation that agreement could solve question. Nevertheless I willing enter into that agreement with him on understanding it would be implemented and would resolve question. As I had noted this morning it had not done so. He had spoken of actual facts with regard implementation that agreement. It was his suggestion we establish third party arrangement so facts could be determined. I accepted that arrangement and it was that arrangement which best demonstrated facts. I had often cited fact here that in no case had we received any notification from third party that any obstacle had been placed in way any Chinese [Facsimile Page 7] my country who desired return his country. In reply that he had at times intimated here that Chinese may fear communicate with Indian Embassy. As I had pointed out this utterly absurd. Absurd think person would fear put letter in mail box or pick up telephone to communicate with Indian Embassy if he felt he being obstructed from leaving US. His govt must be perfectly aware this fact and perfectly aware facts regard communications between Chinese in my country and Indian Embassy. In this connection I had noted press statement made this week by Indian Ambassador in US in which he quoted as saying Embassy had assisted some twenty Chinese in returning Wang’s country. This established that Chinese able to and in fact were in communication with Indian Embassy. Indian Ambassador had gone on to say knew of no Chinese who had been barred from leaving US. I regretted UK Charge Peiping not able make similar statement. Regretted that facts with regard Americans his country would not justify or support such statement by Charge. UK Charge would have to say ten Americans who desired return US still held in prison. He would have to say Wang’s authorities refused accept representations from him with respect these Americans even though this clearly set forth in agreement. He would have to say authorities prevented him even from investigating facts of case as clearly set forth in agreement. I did not know how I could better illustrate or establish who had been carrying out this agreement. These not what he termed unjustified charges or unsupported allegations. These were actual facts. These were actual facts established by arrangement which he himself suggested for establishing such facts. I had cited these facts not only because of importance in themselves but because of relationship of them to fundamental question whether agreements between us were to [Typeset Page 1281] have substance. It had yet to be demonstrated that this first agreement between us had substance. It had yet to be demonstrated whether his govt willing resolve first question we called upon to deal with.
Wang replied my statement on question civilians could not be regarded as in accordance facts. He could not see how settlement of our issues could be facilitated by repeating these statements. As matter fact even prior opening our talks here Americans in China who desired return my country had been able to because his govt never adopted any illegal restrictive measures against their departure. At present still were number of Americans who desired remain his country. At future if any these people desired return my country his side would continue enable them depart in accordance with agreement. In addition these ordinary American civilians, I must also know number former American prisoners from Korean War who refused repatriation and who had chosen reside China. Recently two of this group indicated desire return my country. His side had promptly assisted them do so. This showed they always ready assist those who desired return my country to do so. In future if any these former prisoners of war should desire return, his side would continue help them depart. At time these talks opened here there were 40 Americans in China who had committed various crimes. To show good will, his govt taken special measures of leniency by announcing release of 11 of them on very first day our talks. In course our talks, Chinese Govt had taken further measures in giving 19 prisoners opportunity exercise right return. All these 19 persons had returned. Therefore could be said China not only enabled all those American nationals who desired do so leave country, but also taken further measures enable great majority American prisoners exercise right return. Under such circumstances to charge China failure carry out or violate agreement was deliberate distortion facts.
Wang continued (from prepared statement) insofar as remaining ten American prisoners concerned, as he had always indicated if they displayed good behavior authorities would adopt lenient measures within framework their legal system give them early release. Their policy with regard American prisoners was entirely legal and lenient in every respect. No one could deny this fact. Let us examine record my government in handling question release civilians. Up to now my side had refused hand over list all Chinese imprisoned in America. Even list of Chinese prisoners in America we had produced not complete one. My authorites continued force Chinese go Taiwan. With regard this, he wanted point out my side not yet withdrawn requirement Taiwan entry permit which violated our agreement September 10 last year. They continued receive information on this matter. In case where Chinese nationals forced to Taiwan, my immigration authorities playing leading role. My side had not yet stopped interfering with correspondence of Chinese students with families. My side must stop [Typeset Page 1282] all these examples obstruction return in flagrant violation agreement. They continued press for accounting on group 26 persons and group 52 persons—exactly why these persons had not returned. Until such accounting given, people could only assume their return obstructed. Insofar as Chinese prisoners concerned my side not yet taken measures as China had done so could exercise right return. On other hand my side actually adopted illegal screening method so that these people left in same situation as before.
At one moment my side had alleged not single one these desired return. At next moment I said a single one did desire return. At one moment I said agreement not cover these persons at next moment said did cover them. How could such [Facsimile Page 10] contradictory statements convince people my side trying settle this problem? Even so in whole course these talks my side permitted only single Chinese in prison return China. Sharp contrast to fact in same interval his side permitted 30 of 40 American prisoners, that is to say great majority return.
Wang continued there were tens of thousands Chinese nationals in US; at present only very few permitted return. Still many who desired return but could not as result all sorts obstructive measures my side in violation agreement. There were even cases in which persons forcibly sent to Taiwan against their will. If my side refused announce removal illegal requirement Taiwan entry permit and if my side refused stop interfering in correspondence Chinese nationals in US with families, situation could really be regarded as farcical. It evident, therefore, on question return civilians, up to my side make further efforts implement agreement. This was request and also hope his side.
I replied, let us be clear that we decided proper subjects our discussion here with regard civilians were those who desired return. I had said in past and I repeat again and my statements substantiated by third party he had designated in US—no Chinese national in US who desired return Wang’s country was being obstructed doing so. Chinese nationals who had not returned have done so only because of own free choice. He had persisted in misunderstanding and misrepresenting what he called question Taiwan entry permits. First let me say I did not consider it proper subject of discussion here since it had no relationship to those who desired return his country. It had relationship only to those who desired extend temporary stay in US—that is remain in US. Nevertheless I had been willing explain matter here. I had explained in past nobody required obtain what he termed Taiwan entry permits. Persons desiring extend stay in US must be able show they can proceed to another destination at end of stay. This is not something that applied just to Chinese—it something that applied all aliens in US. Applied equally to Indian, Swiss or British subject.
I continued he had also again spoken of what he termed interference with correspondence. What he was doing was attempting put [Typeset Page 1283] blame on my government for situation which his own authorities created. I had refrained previously from talking on this matter because I hoped his authorities would realize absurdity such charge. We have learned that in spring this year his provincial authorities were enforcing mass registration of families of Chinese studying in US. Such registrations are known to have taken place in Canton between March 30 and April 30, and in other cities of that province between April 5 and May 5. Similar mass registrations are known to have taken place in other areas during same period. In succeeding months, purposes of this became all too clear. Chinese students my country began receiving letters from relatives—letters which were on whole quite different in content from those they had previously been receiving. These letters contained similarities of language and content that were beyond probabilities of chance; some of them hinted that unless student returned immediately to mainland his family there would suffer; still others contained warnings disclosure of correspondence would bring reprisal on families. Some students received letters mailed other than from mainland telling them to disregard earlier letters, as they had been written under pressure. Purpose of this pressure was all too clear. However, some students, in their anxiety for fate their families, had turned for advice to various Chinese welfare and religious organizations in my country. Some brought their cases to attention authorities my country. Eventully, as was inevitable, whole maneuver came to light in public press. I found it incredible attempt now being made lay blame for situation on authorities my country. If any pressure had been exerted on Chinese students my country, it had come from his country. My government has real sympathy for both students and families. My government had and would continue follow [Facsimile Page 12] humane course of allowing each Chinese in US make up own mind whether remain or leave. It had not brought pressure bear on students; nor had it attempted through them exert pressures on families.
I continued, my govt had not alleged Americans in his country who desired remain there in fact desire return. It had never attempted bring pressure on these Americans to return. I had been very careful from beginning these talks not bring subject these Americans into talks. Had not attempted complicate our talks by making false allegations about these Americans. Had discussed only question of Americans who unquestionably did desire return. At very outset these talks had given him list these Americans. It those Americans I had been talking about. It those Americans who were subject of agreement. It was ten those Americans who still not given right return which they granted under agreement. It with regard these Americans UK Charge Peiping not even able carry out subsidiary provisions that agreement. It those Americans who subject terms reference these talks. Until all, not just majority, those Americans had returned, first item our discussion had not yet been resolved. I again urged it be resolved by his govt permitting them return.
Wang replied, I had stated our agreement Sept 10 related to persons who desired return their country; that was right. On other hand, I demand that ten Americans who had committed crimes and now serving out terms should immediately be released; that was wrong in error. Our agreement did not at any place state all Americans, including criminals, be [Facsimile Page 14] able return. Such demands were illegal. Such interpretation of agreement was distorted one. On other hand, it was rather Chinese nationals in US who desired return and who being obstructed from doing so.
Wang continued, very surprised listen my statement with regard investigation correspondence Chinese. Well known China sent large number students abroad study in places including Europe, US, Japan. These students sent abroad either by govt or their families. Didn’t go there stay but rather serve their motherland at conclusion study. Question whether these students desire return country does not arise in any civilized country. Yet they had seen this problem arise in US because US trying detain these students and prevent them return motherland. Not yet seen more striking instance in history civilized world. Only too natural Chinese Govt and families express concern these students. Nothing secret and entirely open that families of Chinese students have gathered in public meetings to put forward demand their kin in US be allowed return. His delegation had received large quantities mail from families Chinese students in US requesting assistance for student return rejoin families. This only too natural. It entirely matter Chinese internal affairs as to what advice offered by Chinese Govt to these relatives to help kin—these students—return motherland. Only too natural sentiment for these relatives advise and appeal for return their kin in US. Nobody can expect their relatives to advise their kin remain there. Information in my statements entirely proved fact US Govt investigating and interfering in correspondence Chinese students with families. This act could only be regarded as violation of personal rights and freedom Chinese in US. What was purpose this investigation correspondence? Purpose was bring pressure bear on minds Chinese students in US prevent their returning China. This investigation of people’s correspondence reminiscent days KMT rule in China. In those days people’s correspondence also investigated and we termed this activity work of special agents while in other democratic [Facsimile Page 15] country this called police activity. They vigorously opposed to this action of US Govt which violation personal liberty and democratic spirit.
I replied information had given him [garble] what he termed investigation of correspondence. It resulted from voluntary acts of persons receiving correspondence calling it to attention our authorities and asking for advice. From his statements seemed quite clear he did agree there was campaign to bring pressure through families on these [Typeset Page 1285] Chinese students to return or [garble] might not desire return would naturally show some concern. Would naturally be especially concerned when, as some informed us, had received one letter from relative postmarked from Wang’s country urging them to return and subsequently received another letter postmarked elsewhere telling them disregard first one. Fact of matter was not my govt attempting bring any pressure on these students. They were mature enough make own decisions. Fact of matter was all evidence showed not single Chinese been obstructed from leaving US if desired leave country. Evidence for this was not my unsupported statement. Evidence was third party which established to determine just this very fact. Fact of matter was, as best exemplified in case Fr. McCarthy, third party in Wang’s country not even permitted investigate facts of case where person alleging obstruction return. Facts with regard performance our two govts on agreement all too plain.
Wang replied, I had spoken of campaign launched by his govt to urge Chinese students in America return motherland. Fact was relatives these students hold many public gatherings voice demand to his govt that govt should make reps my govt for return their kin in US. It was quite public matter. Such campaign made necessary simply because Chinese students my country prevented from returning. If not prevented from returning, such campaign would have been unnecessary. Relatives had written letters. No matter where mailed and no matter by what means mailed, purpose of letters was urge members family return motherland. This reasonable and expression entirely humane desire. But absurd, utterly absurd, for parents urge members families remain in US all their lives and die in US.
Wang continued, he would remind me terms reference these talks did not cover only question return civilians but covered wide range matters at issue between two countries. He referred second item agenda. In course these talks his side had made various proposals designed resolve other matters at issue between us. He regretted my side not in position join in discussion these matters and because of this attitude my govt, no progress made in discussion second item agenda. It to be hoped my govt would devote necessary attention second item agenda and join in reasonable discussion those items and proposals made by his side.
I replied hoped his govt would resolve first item agenda and thereby show desire resolve issues between us.
Wang replied had already made quite clear their opinion as to how first item agenda to be settled. On their part always acted in accordance with agreement. Their opinion was problems could only be resolved this way.
I asked did that mean Americans his country who desired return would be able expeditiously do so. If so I welcomed statement.
Wang said matters could only be resolved in accordance agreement. Impossible ask beyond scope agreement.
I said had asked for nothing beyond scope agreement. Agreement said Americans who desired return would be able expeditiously do so and that his govt would take necessary measures that regard. Agreement said anybody who felt obstructed from returning could communicate with UK Charge. Agreement said UK Charge could investigate facts in any such case. Agreement said his govt would accept representation from UK Charge. I could not see single aspect our agreement which being honored with regard those ten Americans still there.
Wang said with respect ten American prisoners serving prison terms China, his govt could not accept any unilateral demand of US Govt because such demands unreasonable and did not conform with agreement. People other than ten Americans serving sentences, other Americans in China including former prisoners of war who refused repatriation would be assisted by his side without any condition depart from his country if they desired so. They might ask how many Americans formerly in Chinese prisons allowed return and how many Chinese in US prisons allowed return.
I said all Chinese in US including those in prison who desired return been able do so. Ten Americans his country [Facsimile Page 18] who desired return not been able do so.
Wang said these ten Americans not permitted return because had not served out terms given them for their offenses. This was accepted practice every sovereign govt.
I said in other words, our agreement had no meaning with respect these ten Americans.
Wang said agreement did not state all American prisoners should be released within specified time.
I replied agreement said Americans desiring return would be able expeditiously do so.
Wang said that only one aspect of problem.
I said however one termed it, it was agreement between us which not being carried out.
Wang rejoined it was US which not carrying out agreement.
I stated third party arrangement showed which side carrying it out.
Wang complained US had not assisted third party to perform functions.
I pointed out that not what third party said.
Wang asked since two items on agenda, why had US not presented views on second item.
I replied US had at great length presented views on second item agenda and US had also expressed views with regard first item. US expects agreement on first item be carried out and US expects fundamental items under second item be resolved. It still hoped—even after this passage of time—that his govt would make decisions resolve these matters.
Wang stated now up to US take such measures resolve question. Removing requirement for Taiwan entry permit would do more good than to sit here and engage in long empty statements. It was American people who demanded lifting embargo. Why had my govt not taken measures do so? It was American people who demanded American pressmen be allowed visit China. Why had not American Govt taken action permit do so? He hoped US [Facsimile Page 20] would take concrete action which could be seen by everybody rather than by making empty statements or empty professions of desires.
I noted for 180 years my govt considered fully qualified speak for American people. I thought no less qualified do so today. This did not mean, happily, that no difference of opinion among American people. This did not mean, happily, that persons having different opinions not able publicly express them.
Wang commented we had not come here for history courses.
I suggested January ten for next meeting in view Christmas and New Years holidays.
Wang proposed January 18 which I found inconvenient and we agreed on Saturday, January 19.
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.93/12–1356. Confidential; Limit Distribution.