241. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Poland0

619. BeamWang Talks. Following is guidance for 84th meeting.

You should attempt pin Wang down on question whether Peiping prepared in principle follow GRC’s lead and make declaration re non-use of force similar to GRC’s in communiqué of October 23. You should raise again issues imprisoned Americans and missing Korean war personnel in light certain new developments affecting former.

Begin by pointing out that despite Wang’s persistent efforts to obfuscate issue, conditions prevailing in China identical in basic respects with those in other countries divided by Communism: Korea, Vietnam, Germany. In each case there is situation recognized by both sides and by world at large as an international dispute. In each case evident danger to world peace that would result from pressing effort to reunify country by military means has led both sides to eschew use of force for this purpose. Chinese Communists’ continued resort to force in pressing claim to Quemoy, Matsus, Penghus, and Taiwan contrasts vividly with posture of self-restraint displayed by opposing regimes in other divided countries. What gives them right to consider China exception to situation existing in other divided countries and to pursue course of action that threatens to plunge world into war? What difference is there between situation in China and that in three other countries that can possibly justify their patently false argument that no international dispute exists and that they are justified in using any means to realize their objectives?

Republic of China in joint Sino-American communiqué of October 23 has made public declaration of its intent not to use force to implement mission of restoring freedom to people of China but to rely principally on political example. At last meeting Chinese Communist representative was asked whether his government prepared make similar undertaking, but he avoided direct answer. He should now state clearly and unequivocally his government’s position on this basic point.

You should then take up problem of American citizens held in Communist China and unaccounted for military personnel, referring to previous discussion at Geneva and mention of subject at first Warsaw meeting. You should emphasize particularly US demand that four civilian prisoners be released in accordance Chinese Communist pledge in [Page 492]Agreed Announcement. Re unaccounted for military personnel you should avoid mention any specific number when presenting demand for accounting.

In addition reiterating US position re these issues you should take Communists to task re following recent developments involving packages and mail which have provided fresh demonstration Communists’ violation of basic humanitarian principles in treatment of prisoners.

At June 15, 1954 meeting with Johnson,1 Wang agreed families of imprisoned Americans might send small packages to them. American Red Cross February 1955 cabled Chinese Communist Red Cross requesting direct border transfer at Hong Kong to avoid circuitous route through USSR. April 29, 1955 reply agreed to transfer at border “on every month’s 15th and 30th”. Since May 1955 Communists have accepted both Red Cross and family parcels twice monthly which apparently delivered promptly to prisoners. Late September 1958 American Red Cross received letter dated September 11 from Chinese Communist Red Cross stating since only four US prisoners, number of parcels reduced, and “in order to reduce administrative work to the minimum” they decided readjust time of parcel delivery to once monthly on 30th. Also entrusted China International Travel Service at Shumchun accept parcels their behalf. This unilateral and callous change in non-political, humanitarian arrangement after three years smooth operation difficult to understand. October 2 President American Red Cross personally wrote Madam Li Teh-chuan2 requesting reconsideration their decision pointing out humanitarian aspects this matter in no way altered since inception this arrangement more than three years ago and hoping delivery be maintained at same rate her Society suggested April 1955. To date no reply received. Emphasize humanitarian considerations alone would dictate maintaining previous schedule. FYI. Red Cross officials attempted regular delivery food parcels at border October 15 to no avail but Chinese accepted 18 parcels on 30th. Department considering making public details Chinese Communist action on parcels. End FYI.

Further example Communist callousness is manipulation of prisoners’ mail. Until late July 1958 no prisoner’s family received any letter written after December 1, 1957 shortly prior visit by three mothers. One mother who visited son January received first letter October 6 written July 8. Father Wagner released June 15 when queried by sister why he [Page 493]had written no letter after late November 1957 stated: “I wrote four or five times. I guess they didn’t mail them.” US Government forced conclude Peiping regime once again flaunted accepted standards international morality and decency as well violated a publicly made pledge. At second of meetings with Johnson at Geneva June 10, 19543 Wang agreed letters addressed care of “Red Cross Society of China, Peking” would be delivered imprisoned Americans. Added prisoners permitted transmit mail through same channel.

In July 1958 after non-receipt mail caused great anxiety families, British Embassy Peiping at behest US asked Chinese Communist Red Cross about mail situation. Was told that organization “responsible only for transferring letters and that none been recently received from prisoners.” However less than two weeks later in response cables from mothers Peiping Red Cross replied “surprised your not hearing from son who sends letters to you regularly through this Society.” In letter to another mother Chinese Communist Red Cross stated “really strange you have not received any of them. Evidently these letters held up or lost in course of delivery. In our opinion, more likely held up because inconceivable all were lost. Suggest you try to find out reason in US.”

Indeed inconceivable all mail from six men for period six months or more disappeared. Assure Wang letters not held up in US and query him re contradictory Chinese Communist Red Cross explanations to British Embassy and to mothers. Establishment letter package arrangements June 1954 implied belated recognition by Chinese Communists non-political humanitarian nature these matters. Only cynical disregard for standards accepted by all civilized nations can explain their arbitrary manipulation these arrangements.

You should inquire re whereabouts and welfare Maryknoll Bishop James Edward Walsh now apparently missing. British Consulate General Shanghai reported November 3 Walsh not seen for almost two weeks and its inquiries receiving evasive replies. According later report following visit to Bishop’s residence November 17 caretaker said Bishop left home “about fortnight ago” leaving only a few possessions behind and not seen since. Had no idea Bishop’s whereabouts and preferred not talk about it. British note November 3 to Shanghai Foreign Affairs Department still unanswered.

FYI. If Wang raises subject 41st and 42nd (or any subsequent) “warnings” you should reject them categorically along lines suggested Deptel 450.4

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.93/11–2258. Secret; Priority; Limit Distribution. Drafted by Robert A. Aylward of the Office of Chinese Affairs and by Martin and Lutkins; cleared by Robertson and Becker and in draft by Green and with the Department of Defense; and approved by Herter. Repeated to Taipei and USUN for Lodge.
  2. Johnson, then serving as U.S. Coordinator for the Geneva Conference, and Wang, then Secretary General of the PRC Delegation, met four times at the conference to discuss the problem of U.S. nationals imprisoned in China and Chinese nationals restricted from leaving the United States. For a report of the June 15 meeting, see Foreign Relations, 1952–1954, vol. XIV, pp. 468471.
  3. Li Te-ch’uan, Minister of Public Health and President of the Red Cross Society of China.
  4. For a report of the meeting, see Foreign Relations, 1952–1954, vol. XIV, pp. 466467.
  5. Dated October 14. (Department of State, Central Files, 611.93/10–1358; see Supplement)