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47. Editorial Note

On August 2, 1961, President Kennedy attended a dinner given by Vice President Ch’en in his honor at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington. Three memoranda of conversation drafted by interpreter Calvin Mehlert, all dated August 2, record aspects of the conversation. According to one, Kennedy requested that Ch’en take the following message to President Chiang:

“The United States Government wishes to do its utmost to maintain the position of the GRC at the September General Assembly and to prevent the seating of Communist China. The United States must not be defeated in the United Nations on this issue. No matter what differences may arise between the United States Government and the GRC on the best means to be used at the United Nations to avoid a defeat on the Chinese representation issue, it should be remembered that on fundamental questions the United States Government and the GRC are united.”

Ch’en replied that the GRC did not wish to see the prestige of the United States damaged and would take no steps that might result in injury to the U.S. position. (Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, China)

A second memorandum of conversation records conversation between Kennedy and Ch’en concerning various topics, including a question from Kennedy to Ch’en whether the GRC armed forces were not becoming over-age; Ch’en replied that the problem had been solved by conscription and that the average age was 25. A third memorandum records some discussion between Kennedy and Mehlert in which the President inquired about the attitude of the Chinese Communists at Geneva and in the Warsaw talks. (Ibid.)