790. Telegram 790 from Geneva1

[Facsimile Page 1]

790. From Johnson.

I opened 65th with prepared statement:
On Dec 28 1956 representative your Ministry Foreign Affairs told UK Charge Peking question of departure Fr McCarthy could not arise until his prison term expired or your govt advanced date his release. Should like call your attention paragraph our agreed announcement Sept 10 1955 which reads: “PRC recognizes Americans in PRC who desire return US entitled do so, and declares it has adopted and will further adopt appropriate measures so they can expeditiously exercise their right return.”
Does your govt deny Fr McCarthy is American? Does it deny he desires return US? If not, then question return Fr McCarthy to US has already arisen. It arose Sept 10 1955, under agreement into which you entered with me on that date. It had arisen even earlier in very specific manner in these talks, for I had given you list names, on Aug 2 1955, of Americans desiring return and being prevented from doing so, and Fr McCarthy’s name was among them. We had been talking for six weeks about return of precisely this group Americans. Can you point to anything in our announcement which would withhold its application from Fr McCarrthy?
The representative also told UK Charge question Fr McCarthy’s encountering obstruction could not arise while he was in prison. What does our annoucement have to say about [Facsimile Page 2] obstruction? “If any American in PRC believes contrary to declared policy of PRC he encountering [Typeset Page 1329] obstruction in departure, he may so inform office of Charge d’Affaires UK.” Under our announcement, it clear question obstruction arises, not when PRC wishes to raise it, but when “any American in PRC believes he encountering obstruction.” Is Fr McCarthy American in PRC? Does he believe he is encountering obstruction? Then question of obstruction has arisen.
The representative also on Dec 28 told UK Charge his request for facilities investigate facts was not in accordance terms agreed announcement. What are those terms? Any American who believes he being obstructed, and again I quote from our announcement, “may so inform office of Charge d’Affaires UK in PRC and request it make representations on his behalf to Govt PRC. If desired by US, Govt of UK may also investigate facts any such case.” Did Fr McCarthy inform office of UK Charge of his belief his departure being obstructed? Did he request UK Charge make representations on his behalf? Does US desire facts this case be investigated? Can you point to any other terms our announcement bearing on this question of investigation of facts? Can you cite any part announcement which can be used justify refusal your authorities permit this investigation?
Would like ask you in all seriousness this morning whether there any provision of announcement which your authorities intend apply to cases Fr McCarthy and nine other Americans whose departure still being obstructed by your govt. Or is it your intention utterly repudiate our agreement? This is question of most fundamental importance for if relations between our countries are to be placed on some other basis than that of profound distrust and mutual suspicion, it is up to two of us take first steps in that direction. It up to [Facsimile Page 3] us show negotiations between our two countries can result in understandings and agreements which will be carried out in good faith. Impartial testimony shows my govt has and is continuing demonstrate its good faith in carrying out this first agreement between us. I continue seek evidence of intention your authorities do same.
Wang said attitude adopted by China in this conference has all along been relations between China and US should improve, disputes between us should achieve settlement. From statement I had made this morning he did not see display similar spirit.
Wang (turning to prepared statement) continued, might mention press statement of US Dept State Jan 29 again indulged total inversion right and wrong to confuse world. No amount such malicious arguments can establish point that making American criminals serve sentence which accordance law, China guilty violation accord Sept 1955.
Wang (from notes) continued, I had asked question whether agreement between us was to be repudiated. His answer was no amount groundless charges could distort facts this matter. Good faith his govt [Typeset Page 1330] carrying out that agreement beyond question. I had asked question about McCarthy. There no question as to his being American and he might desire return home. Had to point out while he serving sentence, question his return did not arise. In dealing with this and similar cases question violation agreement by his govt had not ever arisen. His govt welcomed third power representative investigating cases where obstruction departure Americans from China reported; but his govt in no case would accept interference on part third country to attempt investigate anything which properly within scope and terms reference authorities their Justice Dept. He wanted point out no obstruction had been offered to any American national in China who desired return US. In fact since liberation China already more than 1000 Americans in China had freely departed without encountering any obstruction. All Americans desiring return my country had done so and his govt so far not received single complaint obstruction to departure of any.
Wang (from prepared statement) continued, my side repeatedly making hostile propaganda and raising outcries against China in vain attempt hoodwink and mislead world. By now I should have come to realize era long past when China could be brought into submission or abandonment sovereignty by threats or pressure. Chinese people would never bow to threats. Era gone and will not come back, when American or any alien could break law and get away with it. Americans who broke law in China now must put up with jail in accordance sentences meted [Facsimile Page 5] out by Chinese authorities. This natural for any sovereign country. Unless criminals displayed good conduct in prison they would have to serve out their sentences. However press statements of my side had not succeeded in covering up or obscuring violation agreement on part my side. On record, still remain two groups of 52 and 25 persons who had not been able come back as result all sorts obstruction by my country, and my side still refused account for them. Obstructive tactics of my authorities now developed to extent of encroaching on human rights to include examination of correspondence between Chinese and relatives. Already many relatives have reported correspondence with folks in US was breaking off. This apparent outcome threats and pressure applied by American authorities. Furthermore while representative US Govt conducting negotiations with representative PRC, American authorities had seen fit continue coerce Chinese residents and send them Taiwan. Such activities and other violation agreement call for strong condemnation. Press statements my side also attempted cover violation agreement of my side with regard question imprisoned Chinese. My side taken unilateral action in subjecting prisoners to illegal screening process. Intent this all too clear—it is to detain such people through this illegal screening process. Under no circumstances would they accept such process. They continued urge US take action [Typeset Page 1331] on own initiative enable these people return as had been done in case former American convicts.
Wang continued, during past weeks world had witnessed two leading members US Dept State trying in turn pass rash judgement on China. Mr Robertson’s vituperations and slanderous statements from Bloomington rostrum and other such unfriendly utterances he has chosen to make not even worth trouble refutation. However people could not fail take note statement [Facsimile Page 6] American SecState at press conference Feb 5. Mr Dulles reported to have declared China conditioning release American convicts on permission by US Govt for US correspondents go China. He did not know on what ground Secretary created this story. However, refutation from his side seemed superfluous as newspaper editors in US already seem to have done job for them in dismissing this as groundless fabrication. Anxiety of American correspondents visit China shows American people did not approve of policy American Govt in obstructing exchanges between peoples. American newsmen desired visit China. China had accepted applications. This gesture goodwill Chinese people toward American people. Establishment link between question American pressmen and release American prisoners constituted outright insult to American pressmen, by American authorities. My side alone attempting introduce link between these two distinct matters. Notice which caused my side attribute this piece of pure fabrication to his side is none other than desire hoodwink world and slander China and make pretext for barring American press visits to China. He and I been associated here long time. I must have become aware long ago slander and threats could in no way help progress in talks. Interests of talks could only be advanced when I abandoned this and ready discuss his proposals, namely FMC, relaxation trade embargo and cultural exchange, movement between our two countries. This always their hope.
I replied he and I had spent long time discussing these subjects. I had been and continue be willing take time do it because I feel issues are of such overwhelming importance. Question of American civilians in his country could not be disposed of as his authorities apparently felt it could by what we might call simply sweeping it under rug. I had in past and continued try do best to understand and appreciate his point view. Frankly and as one who had talked to him now for long time, this subject one I simply could not understand. Even before we came here for this series talks Wang’s govt perfectly aware of importance we attached to question these civilians. In terms reference our talks it agreed this question would come first. However unjust we felt action taken by his authorities was, I had not demanded unilateral action with regard them. I had not had and did not now have any interest in attempting humiliate his govt or obtain any propaganda victory in this matter. This one of [Typeset Page 1332] reasons that right at outset these talks I had suggested they be private in character. My sole interest was finding method resolving this problem so that it could be removed as irritant our relations. I had known from talks we had 1954 attitude his govt with regard Chinese students in US. I had attempted before we ever came here to meet his point view in this regard. I had not raised with him any question US sovereignty, US jurisdiction, or other such theoretical questions. My govt had taken action to resolve this question to his satisfaction. My govt had taken action to entirely remove restraints which had been placed [Facsimile Page 8] to departure of some few Chinese from my country. I had conceded to his point view on declaration by US. At same time, he knew perfectly well my primary interest was in these imprisoned Americans. It perfectly proper for us reach agreement which included not just Chinese in US but Americans in his country. His reaching such agreement was certainly not in any way derogation sovereignty but was an exercise his sovereignty.
I continued, insofar as discussions leading up to agreement concerned, he would recall that they concerned these imprisoned Americans. I would not take time review those discussions—he was as familiar with them as I. He would recall though that particularly in discussion leading up finally to use world “expeditiously” in that agreement, it related to time when these imprisoned Americans would be released. Fact he and his authorites at that time well recognized this agreement related to imprisoned Americans had been well demonstrated by their release ten imprisoned Americans on same day and in connection with issuance agreement. For his authorities now to go back and say the agreement has no relation to those imprionsed Americans—just persons we talking about at time we made the agreement—simply not logical, just, or defensible.
I continued, he spoke of threats, pressure, exercise sovereignty. Hard as I tried understand and follow him on this I just unable do so. I could not see how asking that agreement freely entered into be carried out constitutes threats or pressure. I could not understand how any govt able say carrying out by it of agreement, into which it has entered, is derogation of its sovereignty. In fact it seems me it is opposite—it is exercise of its sovereignty. If I or my govt wanted see continuation of type relations which had so unhappily heretofore existed between us—certainly never would have laid stress I had on importance resolving this question civilians.
I continued, for him to demand concessions and agreements from me on other subjects prior to resolving what our govts both agreed was first question between us and prior carrying out this first agreement between us, is taking completely unilateral point view. At times his authorities and he here seemed take position their failure carry out this agreement based upon allegation agreement did not cover these [Typeset Page 1333] imprisoned Americans. At other times he seemed have taken attitude this agreement would not be carried out and Americans released unless and until there were further political concessions by my govt on matters of interest to his govt. I could not but interpret in this sense statements he had made with regard improvement relations between us being a factor in timing of release those prisoneers. At other times he seemed take attitude because of alleged violation of agreement by US with respect Chinese in US, his authorites in retaliation were refusing implement agreement with regard Americans still in prison in his country.
Continued he had spoken of press release my govt Jan 29 and had termed it groundless charges. I would not take time go thru that press release—seemed to me be most sober, careful presentation facts this matter. Instead trying dismiss it as groundless charges I asked him show me single misstatement fact in release. This not just my opinion or opinion my govt. He would recall and had probably noted with respect Chinese in US, following that release, Feb 2 [Facsimile Page 10] spokesman GOI stated Indian Embassy Washington had found no case of any proved obstruction any Chinese in US desiring return his country; that while few cases alleged obstruction been drawn attention Indian Embassy, in no case had it proved true.
I continued, he had said here this morning his govt had not received any complaint obstruction of departure of any American his country. He knew and I knew Govt UK had not and could not make statement supporting that allegation such as Indian Govt made supporting statement I had made here this morning. To go into any further detail would simply obscure these fundamental undeniable facts.
Wang replied, in my statement I had termed most fundamental issue between two sides question civilians. In this regard, greater part this problem already resolved as result efforts made by Chinese Govt. That was to say, most of Americans or practically all Americans desiring depart this country to return US had already been enabled freely do so. Number people who had done so not in neighborhood several scores or several hundred but more than 1000 done so. If I wanted say question civilians sole issue involved in improvement relations, it could be said good basis already established this respect. What US trying do was present this matter as only concerning few criminals—this what he could not agree with. They felt that problems existing between our two countries concerned kind of issues which arise between two great powers and are of great consequence to humanity. If we failed see problems from this point view, it would seem be what people call losing sight of forest when only seeing single tree. If anybody going present relations between two countries as only involving question of handful criminals, can only say it making game of these talks, with pretext of question few criminals. If we were to take that course he afraid people would have [Typeset Page 1334] [Facsimile Page 11] pass judgment on those who had wasted so much time and failed carry out fervent desires entrusted to them by people.
Wang continued, he also found it hard follow my logic when I said in concluding international agreement sovereignty had to be derogated. They took different view. They thought in concluding international agreement it should not prejudice but safeguard sovereignty.
Wang continued, in discussing question return civilians, one must take note of fact Chinese Govt always been carrying out that agreement faithfully. They could never concede to any allegation Chinese Govt introduced any obstruction departure Americans from China. If such obstruction existed, how could one explain fact majority Americans in China had been able leave. Most convincing fact and practical matter was fact in cases number former American prisoners war who refused repatriation whenever any of these persons desired return my country his authorities had not obstructed and had always given all facilities enable them do so. In fact number these already returned my country. As he had told me if in future any other persons this category changed mind and desired return my country they would help him do so in same way. This showed that his authorities always carried out agreement in assisting departure any American who desired do so.
Wang continued there were number criminals in China and this involved another matter. They had saying in China debtors must pay debts and murderers undergo punishment. So they had taken position that question repatriation did not arise with respect persons serving prison terms. However they had repeatedly made it known if these persons in question had displayed good conduct they would also be enabled exercise that right. But if anybody tryng force issue upon Chinese Govt pressurize it into abandonment established procedure law—this something which simply not done in China. I would recall when we first met in this room 1954 I had told him restraints imposed my govt on Chinese students my country matter jurisdiction my govt and categorically declared I not going change that legal procedure my govt.
Wang continued with regard my allegation that his govt on question American criminals trying extract political concessions from my side. He could only regard this as inversion of fact. His govt in interest improving relations made number constructive proposals, but my govt so far refused take up these proposals—moreover my authorities repeatedly banned correspondents from visiting China. This could be termed attempt by my authorities by various means try extract political concessions from China. If there genuine desire improve relations, one would have to take into due consideraton views of both sides instead of sticking to ones own viewpoint. [Facsimile Page 13] He sure I aware public conversation made by Premier Chou with number American correspondents. Premier [Typeset Page 1335] spoke about China’s desire friendly terms with US and American people; specifically pointed out Chinese side taken many steps forward. In order really improve relations both sides must take steps forward simultaneously.
I replied, first let me correct apparent misunderstanding. I understood he thought I had said that concluding an international agreement is derogation of sovereignty. I did not say that nor at least did not intend to. What I said was exactly opposite—that concluding international agreement not derogation of sovereignty—in fact is exercise of sovereignty. Interesting though it might be my point was not enter into philosophical argument but my point was that his govt having entered into agreement Sept 1955, its carrying out that agreement would be exercise sovereignty rather than derogation sovereignty.
I continued, I did not believe I had said question civilians most fundamental question between us. What I had said was it a fundamental question between us and both our countries had agreed it first question between us. Demonstration our ability resolve what our govts considered first question between us certainly fundamental to resolving others. A fundamental question between us still remains question whether permit our misunderstanding in Taiwan area to lead war. Remains still for us say unconditionally unequivocally it will not. However to go back to what both agreed was first question it not question resolving it in part, for some Americans or most Americans—it question of resolving question.
I continued, when we issued statement Sept 10 we not talking of Americans who already left his country and returned US. [Facsimile Page 14] We talking about 19 specific Americans still in prison that time. Not talking about American POW who voluntarily decided remain Wang’s country. We talking about these 19 Americans. He had termed it matter of few criminals. I could not agree with him on that. We had in past and still considered imprisonment these Americans completely unjust. However I did not ask him agree me on that. I only asked that first problem we came here resolve be resolved and good faith be shown here in resolving it. As had pointed out here many times, not only did we consider good faith not been shown in resolving it, but seem to have gone backwards. Considerations Wang’s country’s sovereignty and judicial procedures had not prevented release eleven fliers day our meetings opened here. It had not prevented release 10 Americans Sept 10 at time we issued agreement. Since that time, seemed quite clear they had adopted policy requiring these unfortunate people serve whole term their sentence.
I continued, it perfectly natural in light this history of carrying out agreement and treatment afforded Americans his country, that my govt felt it would be delinquent in its responsibility protect Americans to approve their travel to his country.
Wang replied, on their part they had also many grievances in connection with treatment their nationals in US. I had described these meetings as going backward. He agreed with me, but pointed out they had nothing to do with it. If one of two partners trying go forward while other trying pull backward, of course it very difficult have results. I had referred release 11 member American Air Force on their own initiative and had referred to release number Americans on day agreement. These releases had been effected simply as result decision Chinese authorities in accordance judicial procedure. Also took these measures in expectation and hope such lenient measures given Americans would be example goodwill and eventually lead to improvement relations between two countries. What was reward of this gesture goodwill their part? US taken series unfriendly actions against Wang’s country and had demanded Wang’s country do that and that while my authorities doing unfriendly things toward Wang’s country. For us demand that other side do something, and not do it ourselves would not improve relations. In last part statement I had referred to responsibility US protect Americans in China. They had just seen number American correspondents returning in safety [Facsimile Page 16] to my country from visit China. Nothing wrong done to them. One could not fail note American press, including Association American Publishers, refuted allegation that protection and safety of correspondents was an issue. It was friendly thing for American correspondents to wish visit China, it was friendly for Chinese Govt to let them come, but US Govt forbidding them was unfriendly act; to say it was matter of safety was still more unfriendly act. It would bring no good to American Govt continue pose such unfriendly and hostile attitude and spreading unfriendly statements against China.
I replied, he had spoken of release 11 fliers, and of 10 civilians released Sept 10 as motivated by desire improve relations. I supposed then I could only interpret continued holding of 10 who still there in spite our agreement as motivated by opposite desire. Certainly hard for me believe behavior of 10 still here so much worse than behavior those released as to preclude release. Let us be clear about this. We given as first task question civilians. That been completely resolved on independent evidence of agency and govt which he designated to confirm this with respect Chinese in US. Even though did not enter into original discussions, it been resolved even for Chinese imprisoned for common crimes. I had not thrown off fog of arguments about jurisdiction, sovereignty, other such terms—we had gone ahead and resolved it. We still did not see evidence intent his authorities resolve it equally as far as Americans his country concerned. We resolved it without asking any political concessions. We resolved it completely in spirit and letter of agrement into which we entered. We still look for similar intent on part his authorities.
I continued, not only had they not resolved this, but not resolved question Americans still missing from Korean hostilities. Both are simple straight-forward questions resolvable not by talk or formulae but by action. Nothing [Facsimile Page 17] complicated about them. They think things can be done simply. When I first raised question Americans still missing Korean hostilities he had said not properly within scope our talks here. As I had told him at time, I did not raise subject here in order raise controversy between us—I raised it solely get resolution. It made no difference to me where it was resolved. When after lapse of over year I raised it at last meeting he made remarkable allegation this responsibility my govt. He made this allegation in spite responsibility his side assumed under Korean armistice agreement and in spite clear evidence his govt at least at one time had info regarding these men. I had cited to him evidence this—reasons we and families these men felt they must have some info with regard their fate. I simply could not understand why that info could not be given to us. As said it makes no difference where, either here or Korea.
I continued, for example on June 22 1951, Peking Radio broadcast info regarding Mr Casimire T. Demoll indicating to his family he alive and well in prison camp at that time. On June 27 that year similar broadcast concerning William D. Schonder and on June 29 concerning Myron Johnson. It certainly not responsibility US that hopes families raised in regard these men. It certainly not responsibility US there no further info regarding them. These were just few of many many cases in which it clear Wang’s authorities at one time had these in their hands and had info regard them. I again asked that info be made available US, whether here or in Military Armistice Commission Korea. Was making no allegations; if these men died, it was all the info we asked for. I could not understand, though, why info withheld.
Wang replied, advance release 11 airmen at opening these negotiations and release ten American criminals Sept 10 1955 all effected in accordance judicial procedure his country and had been made voluntarily on their part. Those releases indeed represented vital effort made his govt view improving relations between two countries. This recognized fact throughout world. World recognized Chinese Govt did not merely engage in talking but had actually taken concrete action improve relations. Deterioration relations between two countries not result unfriendly attitude to US but on contrary, had solely been result hostile, unfriendly attitude US toward China. Even after series friendly actions taken by his govt, US [Facsimile Page 19] Govt had not in any single instance shown similar intent toward China. These actual facts speak for themselves. It US lacking desire improve relations with China, not any lack goodwill part China. Therefore he would like call attention to fact if relations between two countries to improve, it required equal simultaneous [Typeset Page 1338] effort both sides. If my govt kept demanding one thing from his govt one day and raising another the next, it is simply wishful thinking. He would refer to saying in his country that if person treats me well, I will go one better but if he treats me ill, let him beware of consequences. With respect other points I raised my statement he had at last meeting and also this morning expressed position and would not take time go over them.
I said I had not asked him take any action with regard those remaining Americans other than what he had taken with regard eleven airmen and ten civilians. Not asked to take any action other than what we had taken in regard Chinese in US.
Wang rejoined, he had made it clear time and again progress talks depend concerted efforts two sides.
Wang suggested next meeting March 14. I agreed.
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.93/2–1557. Confidential; Limit Distribution.