51. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Trade Relations Between the Federal Republic and Communist China


  • Germans
    • Foreign Minister Gerhard Schroeder
    • Ambassador Heinrich Knappstein, German Embassy
    • State Secretary Ludger Westrick, Office of the Chancellor
    • State Secretary Karl Carstens, Foreign Office
    • State Secretary Karl-Guenther von Hase, Chief, Federal Press Office
    • Assistant Secretary Franz Krapf, Foreign Office
    • Assistant Secretary Karl Hohmann, Office of the Chancellor
    • Deputy Assistant Secretary Horst Osterheld, Office of the Chancellor
    • Deputy Assistant Secretary Dankmar Seibt, Aide of the Chancellor
    • Mr. Hermann Kusterer, Counselor, Foreign Office (Interpreter)
  • Americans
    • The Secretary
    • Mr. McGeorge Bundy, Special Assistant to the President
    • Ambassador George C. McGhee
    • Assistant Secretary William R. Tyler,EUR
    • Mr. George Reedy, Press Secretary, White House
    • Mr. Robert C. Creel, Director, GER

While the President was in a private meeting with Chancellor Erhard,2 the Secretary suggested to Foreign Minister Schroeder that they make use of the time to continue their discussions of June 11.

The Secretary said he had gathered from his conversation with Schroeder yesterday3 that the West Germans were considering entering into some sort of trade agreement with Peiping at the governmental level. He had received the further impression that the Germans were thinking of doing this fairly soon. He would like to explore further Schroeder’s ideas on timing. For our part we were concerned over any action which might be construed by Peiping as a go-ahead signal for continuing their present line of conduct.

Schroeder replied that, as he had indicated yesterday, this idea of increasing trade between the Federal Republic and Communist China and [Page 120] formalizing this trade in some way was not a new one. It was of course true that the Germans had less freedom in their actions now because of de Gaulle’s recognition of Peiping. What particularly appealed to the Germans was the possibility of being able to secure a Berlin clause in any such agreement along the lines of those already included in trade agreements with countries of Eastern Europe. The Germans had no exact ideas on the matter of timing. All contacts thus far with the Red Chinese on the matter had been at the second level; there had been no real contact thus far at the government level. If developments indicated a definite interest on the part of the Red Chinese, then maybe something could be done “in the not too distant future”. There was no particular time pressure, but in the interest of maintaining momentum the Germans were thinking of trying to settle the matter “in the course of this year”. Trade agreements with a Berlin clause had already been signed with the countries of Eastern Europe except for Czechoslovakia. In this latter case conclusion of an agreement had already been unduly delayed, owing primarily to adverse reaction from Sudeten German groups.

Schroeder said the Germans did not want to do anything which would create a difficulty for the United States. However, they hoped that over the next two or three months there might be some easing of our problems in Southeast Asia. In any case the Germans would like “to settle things if possible this year”, because otherwise momentum would be lost and they would “lag behind the optimum”.

The Secretary expressed the hope that we could keep in close touch on this matter. It had a direct bearing on the current serious crisis in Southeast Asia. At the time France recognized Peiping, it had asserted that it had not been able to take this action earlier because of the unhelpful attitude of Peiping during French difficulties in Indo-China and Algeria. At the time the French did take action to recognize Peiping, we were ourselves suffering serious casualties in Southeast Asia. He wished to stress that any action which would encourage the Chinese Communists to believe they were on the right course would make things more dangerous.

Schroeder replied that the Germans were aware of this point. He said they were not particularly keen over increased trade in itself but they were keen over having a Berlin clause, particularly in the light of the Soviet-GDR treaty signed in Moscow today. He felt that such a development would strengthen our common position against Ulbricht.

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Germany, Erhard Visit, June 1964. Confidential. Drafted by Creel and approved in S on June 19. The meeting was held at the White House. The source text is marked “Part 1 of 4.” Memoranda of conversation dealing with the French attitude toward NATO and internal German politics are ibid. A memorandum of conversation dealing with the Soviet-GDR treaty is Document 52.
  2. See Documents 49 and 50.
  3. Apparently during the private conversation that preceded their 4 p.m. discussion; see Document 47.,