788. Telegram 787 from Geneva1

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787. From Johnson.

Three hour meeting this morning devoted almost entirely implementation.

I opened with strong point by point refutation Huang Hua’s December 28 statements to O’Neill along para one Deptel 815. While avoiding any detailed rebuttal Wang reiterated previous position on question return not arising while Americans in prison. Then led into long prepared statement in course of which referred to January 29 press statement, Secretary’s February 5 press conference, Robertson’s speech in Bloomington, and US press criticism of USG position on travel correspondents. Termed January 29 statement as “groundless charges” to cover up facts with regard to Chinese in US. With reference Secretary’s February 5 statement PRC conditioning release Americans on visits correspondents “refutation superfluous as American press already done job for them in dismissing story as groundless fabrication”. PRC approval applications American correspondents visit China was gesture goodwill and US attempt link with question release Americans was “outright insult to pressmen”. “US alone attempting introduce link.” Robertson’s Bloomington “vituperation and slander” and “other unfriendly utterances he has made not even worth trouble refutation”. US should be aware that “slander and threats could not help progress”. Can only [Facsimile Page 2] expect progress when I ready discuss his proposals FMC, cultural relations, and trade.

I made long extemporaneous statement reviewing course negotiations on prisoners and reminded him of his previous statements linking release Americans to “improvement relations”. Could only interpret this as demand political concessions as price release. At other times he and PRC authorities appear base failure release Americans on alleged grounds imprisoned Americans not covered by agreed announcement and that at other times on alleged violation agreement by US with respect Chinese in US. Challenged him show single misstatement fact January 29 press statement. Cited GOI February 2 statement as confirmation our January 29 statement with respect Chinese in US and challenged him produce similar statement from UK on situation Americans in PRC.

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Major portion his subsequent remarks devoted to themes: (1) “era long passed China could be brought into submission by threats or pressure” or aliens could break Chinese law with impunity; (2) PRC friendly gestures (release airmen and others, Chou’s statements to American correspondents PRC desired friendship with US and American people, permission newsmen visit China, etc.) had been met only with hostility from US side. “If anybody going present relations between our two countries as only involving question of few criminals he could only say it is making game of these talks”. US uses “pretext” few criminals prevent improvement relations.

I, of course, refuted along usual lines both governments had agreed civilians first order of business, major concessions US had made with respect Chinese in US, PRC implementation September 10 agreement test of good faith and fundamental [Facsimile Page 3] first step in improvement relations, etc. Another fundamental step was renunciation force.

He made no reply whatever to my presentation on missing service men referring only his previous statements.

He proposed and I agreed next meeting March 14.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.93/2–1457. Confidential; Priority; Limit Distribution.