90. Telegram 490 from Geneva1

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490. From Johnson.

As stated my 485 no visible progress made today on fundamental issue of return of Americans. Wang stuck firmly to his previous position on cases being reviewed and we would promptly be informed results those completed. He raised no objections to form our draft agreed announcement (Mytel 463) and confined objections to para one, pressing for substitution para one his draft and for broadening scope para 2 (A) to include inquiries initiated by respective governments. Only other point was substitution “China” for “China mainland” to which I countered with substitution by People’s Republic of China to which he made no definite reply. However he reserved right further comment.

I again argued against broadening scope para 2 (A) as unnecessary and pointed out direct mention of and discretion given PRC our draft that para. Discussion this point inconclusive.

However discussion centered around two versions para one with much talk from Wang about international law, sovereignty, extra-territoriality, jurisdiction over foreigners, attempt by US establish principle Americans not subject PRC law, reciprocal and bilateral nature their para one which recognizes US jurisdiction over Chinese in US, they not asking US exempt from US jurisdiction Chinese in US involved in crimes or having unsettled debts, why should we ask them do so for Americans in China etc.

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In reply I disclaimed intention raise theoretical questions jurisdiction. Our para one dealt with practical situation and we asked them say no more than we said ourselves. Said I recognized their desire handle matter within framework their law, para one our draft specifically designed enable them to do so, was not something imposed but simply statement what each government decided do within framework its sovereignty and laws. Chou’s statement before talks led me believe would promptly and easily be done with respect Americans. Puzzlement at time thus far consumed with no results whatever on Americans. All I had were vague statements cases being “reviewed”. Simultaneous release of flyers who had received varying sentences pointed up what could be done when they wanted to (he had previously alluded to flyers) etc. In reply my specific questions as to what he objected in para one our draft he indicated might be acceptable if second sentence first para his draft added. I immediately rejected pointing out that as far as [Typeset Page 109] Americans in China concerned this took away [garble] give to two sentences our draft and still left Americans where they were when these talks started. Said I held no brief for exact wording our para one, what I was interested in was substance which I considered vital. Willing consider any wording he might suggest with same substance. At end long discussion these lines both tacitly agreed neither had anything more to say and agreed meet Thursday with usual fencing as to who was going to do most thinking over subject during interim.

At close this phase he said wished “raise another point” and brought up “propaganda campaign” which had been “launched in order slander Chinese people” etc. Since beginning talks PRC “has repeatedly made clear its conciliatory attitude” questions “mistreatment” raised. PRC could “endlessly recount miserable treatment” captured Chinese in Korea, campaign was having “adverse effects” talks here etc. I had clear feeling he had received specific instructions make statement and that he was somewhat reluctant do so. I deliberately showed anger and curtly replied I did not [Facsimile Page 3] understand his motive in raising, accounts I had seen were factual interviews with men released. Our free press, accounts not unique almost all released have told similar accounts, fault was not with accounts but with treatment that gave rise to accounts, these reports had raised anxiety in US over Americans in China and made it all more important find early resolution to problem. He was somewhat taken aback and endeavored smooth atmosphere before we left.


NOTE: Mr. Waddell’s Office (FE) notified 8/17/55 3:25 p.m. EMB (CWO)

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.93/8–1655. Confidential; Priority.