6. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Japanese Political Questions; French Recognition of Communist China


  • Tingfu F. Tsiang, Chinese Ambassador
  • Yi-seng Kiang, Chinese Minister
  • Johnson Cheng, Counselor of Embassy
  • The Secretary
  • Robert W. Barnett, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Far Eastern Affairs
  • Robert A. Fearey, Acting Deputy Director for East Asian Affairs
[Page 10]

Ambassador Tsiang said that he had been instructed to take up with the Secretary two matters relating to Japan.

  • First, his Government wished him to call the Secretary’s attention to certain developments in Japanese politics. During the last several years Prime Minister Ikeda had, willingly or unwillingly, associated himself with and promoted the political influence of Ichiro Kono, Kenzo Matsumura, Tatsunosuke Takasaki and Takeo Miki. As a result, the political influence of these individuals had increased. With the development of trade with the mainland, Kono particularly had been able to acquire considerable funds for political purposes. Kono was building up a political organization of his own in hopes of promoting a different type of governing coalition in which he, Kono, would be the Prime Minister while Ikeda became the honorary chief of the coalition. The GRC wished to warn the Secretary that Japanese trade with the mainland would not only help Communist China but would also, on the Japanese side, corrupt Japanese politics in the direction of the left. The Secretary said that he would bear in mind what the Ambassador had said.
  • Second, Ambassador Tsiang said that the Japanese Government was considering establishing a permanent trade mission in Peiping, reciprocated by a Chinese Communist permanent trade mission in Tokyo. The Ambassador said that his Government hoped that the Secretary would use his influence to prevent this. The Secretary said that he planned to discuss the mainland trade question in Tokyo and would see what could be done.

The Secretary said he was very disappointed and disturbed over news of the manner in which the GRC is handling the French-Communist Chinese recognition matter.2 There appears to us to be overwhelming evidence that if the GRC refuses to break relations with France this would have a major impact on Peiping in its attempt to establish diplomatic relations throughout the world. The Secretary said that we have no wish to interfere in the GRC’s business in giving them advice. However, the United States’ future relations with the GRC, its relations with NATO and Southeast Asia are all very much involved. We need the cooperation of the GRC. If there were only a 50 percent or even a 33 percent chance that the French-Communist Chinese move could be frustrated it would be of the greatest importance that that chance be taken. The consequences of failure are such that we should take any step that might assist in frustrating the Paris-Peiping action. If France succeeds in establishing relations with Peiping in circumstances where the GRC has made it easy [Page 11]for them to do so, we will not be able to commit our prestige in other cases, in other capitals. We need maximum assistance from the GRC to deal with this problem.

The Secretary said that the GRC should not only continue to protest France’s action—the GRC should in addition make it just as hard as possible for Paris and Peiping to carry their plan out. Our information and strong belief is that France would be unwilling to take the initiative in breaking relations with the GRC. The Secretary said that he hoped the GRC and people of Taiwan saw the gravity of the matter as we see it in our own national interest. As he had said, ours is not just the advice of a friend. We too have an important stake and need the GRC’s help. If it becomes clear that we are not able to work together in an effort to make the establishment of relations between France and Communist China as difficult as possible, the loss of interest in the U.S. in the effort to support the GRC will be very severe. The Secretary said that he had been reading records of Congressional discussions of the matter which clearly confirmed this. This is an extremely important matter. If we cannot work together on this, it would be very difficult to work together effectively as we have for so many years in support of GRC interests. He was not pointing a finger at the Ambassador personally since he knew the Ambassador had correctly reported their discussions. But he wanted to be sure that the Government at Taiwan understands the utter gravity of the problem. He understood that Ambassador Wright had not been afforded opportunity to discuss the matter personally with President Chiang.

Ambassador Tsiang said that his information was scanty. He was not personally familiar with all aspects of the problem and was not in a position to say anything at the moment. He would report with all clarity to his Government what the Secretary had said.

The Secretary said he wished to add a further point. There had been intimations that in Taiwan there were some who suspected that we were trying to booby-trap the GRC into a false position. This was not true. Such an interpretation would be very badly received here.

Ambassador Tsiang said that it was hard for the GRC to distinguish official from unofficial views and comment in Washington. So many people wanted to speak their minds on the problem, including, for example, Mr. Lippmann. The Secretary said that Mr. Lippmann had held the same position for 15 years. He could understand the difficulties President Chiang had in dealing with a man like DeGaulle. He could show the Ambassador his own wounds. DeGaulle is a very complex man, almost impossible to persuade. The Secretary reiterated that our information is that Paris is very worried over the possibility that the GRC will not break relations.

Ambassador Tsiang said that his personal recommendation to Taipei had been that the Government should sit tight through the announcement [Page 12]of recognition, but should withdraw after completion of an exchange of ambassadors. He had warned his Government not to talk about future steps. The Secretary said that the GRC should give no indication of intention to withdraw in any circumstances. He made plain that the GRC should not give any indication that it would withdraw its Paris Embassy if a Chinese Communist Ambassador arrived, or the GRC’s whole position will be undercut.

The Secretary said that looking ahead, we are in a major battle of a long campaign. If Paris goes ahead we will be faced probably quite soon with a danger of recognition of Peiping by some African countries, by Belgium, by Canada, by Japan and by other countries. It is true that 42 UN nations recognize Peking. But France is a special case—if this hole is made in the dam the prospect is that the water will flood through. The Secretary said that he could not emphasize too strongly the importance of doing all we can to frustrate Paris’ and Peiping’s move.3

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL CHICOM-JAPAN. Secret; Limit Distribution. Drafted by Acting Deputy Director of the Office of East Asian Affairs Robert A. Fearey. Approved by Rusk on January 27 in Tokyo. The time of the meeting is taken from Rusk’s Appointment Book. (Johnson Library)
  2. Telegram 616 from Taipei, January 21, reported that Foreign Minister Shen had told Wright that Chiang had received a letter from De Gaulle that had convinced him that De Gaulle intended to formalize relations with Peking swiftly and that it would be impossible to keep an Ambassador in Paris even for a short time. (Department of State, Central Files, POL 17 FR–CHICOM)
  3. Wright reported in telegram 648 from Taipei, January 26, that he had reviewed Rusk’s conversation with Tsiang in detail with Chiang that morning. (Ibid., POL CHINAT-US)