183. Memorandum of a Conversation, Geneva, July 18, 1955, 1 p.m.1



  • United States
    • The President
    • Mr. Dillon Anderson
    • Colonel Goodpaster
    • Colonel Walters
    • Major Eisenhower
  • UN
    • Mr. Hammarskjold


  • Dealing with the Communists

Principal points made by Mr. Hammarskjold were the following: Before luncheon, he referred to a comment which the Soviet member of the Economic and Social Council had repeatedly stressed to him in identical words. It was the following: “We should start off, [Page 367] in our deliberations, from the things we have in common, rather than the things that divide us.”

During luncheon, Mr. Hammarskjold cited three elements which he felt were of the highest importance in dealing with the Communist Chinese: unfailing courtesy; firmness; and being certain never to retreat from a position once taken. He indicated that the Chinese Communists were fiercely nationalistic and showed a pronounced desire for world recognition. He thought this was a desire on their part that they be taken seriously—to be accepted in world society reporting their prideful comment that now for the first time China has a centralized government. The point he sought to make seemed to be that nationalism meant more to them than communism. He did not appear to feel it was a demand arising out of a Tito-like feeling that they had accomplished great things with no outside help.

The Russians have shown a desire, beginning with their change of attitude several months ago, to support the principle of the UN whenever an issue arises in these terms. Along with this they have avoided controversy—he cited Molotov’s comment after what was thought to be a rather firm speech by Secretary Dulles at San Francisco, “Mr. Dulles has said what he believes, and I have simply said what I believe”. He made much the same comment in connection with Mr. Truman’s remarks concerning the Korean War.

Discussing the relationship between the Chinese Communists and the Communist doctrine, Mr. Hammarskjold cited the reaction of a Chinese scholar high in the government who was not a member of the Communist party. Mr. Hammarskjold asked him in the presence of Chou En-lai about the freedom to entertain divergent views in the Communist world and the scholar responded, “What freedom” with a broad smile. (The point of this seemed to be that he did not hesitate to make a scoffing comment about freedom under Communist rule.) He also referred to a Harvard-trained administrator high in the [Page 368] Chinese Communist government who makes it clear that he himself does not hold Communist beliefs.2

A.J. Goodpaster3
Colonel CE, US Army
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 396.1–GE/7–1855. Secret.
  2. Either at this luncheon or at the greeting ceremonies before the First Plenary Session (see the U.S. record, supra) Hammarskjöld gave President Eisenhower copies of the Swedish Minister’s conversation with Chou En-lai on July 8 and the Secretary-General’s reply thereto concerning U.S. prisoners in China. Copies were transmitted to Washington in Secto 39, July 18. (Department of State, Central Files, 396.1–GE/7–1855)

    In a related matter Secretary Dulles drafted a memorandum on July 26 in which he recalled:

    “At Geneva, on a date I have now forgotten (probably July 18) I spoke to Mr. Hammarskjold and asked him whether or not he thought it would be helpful or the reverse if we should through direct contacts with the Chinese Communists seek to reinforce his efforts to get back the eleven US prisoners of war. He said he thought it would be helpful.” (Ibid., Conference Files: Lot 63 D 123, CF 516)

  3. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.