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58. Editorial Note

On September 5, 1961, President Kennedy discussed the question of Chinese representation in a meeting at the White House with Secretary of State Rusk, Representative to the United Nations Stevenson, Assistant Secretary for International Organization Affairs Cleveland, Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs Bundy, Special Counsel to the President Theodore C. Sorensen, and Special Assistant to the President Schlesinger.

A memorandum of action taken at the meeting, drafted by Cleveland and dated September 5, reads in part as follows:

  • “a.

    In the Secretary of State’s memorandum of September 5 to the President on Chinese Representation in the United Nations, the President was asked two policy questions:

    • “(i) Do you believe that Ambassador Stevenson should now be authorized to make it known informally to other delegations that the United States does not preclude the possibility that a General Assembly study committee would recommend for the consideration of the General Assembly at its 1962 session an essentially “two Chinas” solution based on the successor state approach? and
    • “(ii) Are you prepared to authorize Ambassador Stevenson to vote affirmatively in the Security Council on the application for UN membership of the Mongolian People’s Republic, if in his judgment such a vote will substantially assist him in developing support among the French African states for the U.S. position on Chinese Representation?

    “The President answered ‘yes’ to both of these questions. He expressed again his judgment of the importance of keeping the Chinese Communists out of the United Nations this year.

  • “b. The President said he wants to write President Chiang Kai-shek a further letter, in which he would lay stress on the United States interests in the Chinese Representation question and therefore on the related matter of the Mongolian and Mauritanian applications for UN membership.
  • “c. Individuals in the United States who are particularly close to the GRC will be brought into the discussion. The President will talk to Congressman [Page 134]Walter Judd. The Secretary of State will follow up Henry Cabot Lodge’s call to him on the Outer Mongolia issue, with a view to further discussions with Henry Luce on the matter. Ambassador Stevenson will speak to Roy Howard of Scripps-Howard.” (Filed with a covering memorandum of September 6 from Battle to Bundy; Department of State, Central Files, 301/9-661)

Rusk’s September 5 memorandum cited above reported that the Department had conducted exploratory discussions concerning a two-pronged approach, combining a resolution declaring any change in China’s representation an “important question” with the establishment by the General Assembly of a study committee to consider criteria for U.N. membership and related problems. The consultations thus far had indicated that there was no certainty of obtaining the required majority for either proposal. Rusk stated that the Department would continue its efforts for the two-pronged approach but that a further “sweetener” might have to be added. He posed the two policy questions quoted in Cleveland’s memorandum of action, recommending in favor of the second but stating his view that the first step was not yet necessary. (Ibid., 303/9-561)

For Schlesinger’s account of the discussion, see A Thousand Days, pages 483-484.