202. Telegram From the Mission to the United Nations to the Department of State 1

4846. Subj: Reduction in US Assessment.

At our request Ambassador Phillips, acting for Ambassador Bush, met November 20 with PRC Perm Rep Huang Hua to discuss 25 percent issue. Meeting took place in PRC office in UN Conference building. Accompanying Huang Hua were PRC Fifth Comite rep Hsing Sung-yi and interpreter Mrs. Shih Yen-hua. MisOffs Stottlemyer and Bleha accompanied Phillips.
Explaining that Amb Bush had personally wished to make 25 percent presentation to Huang Hua now that issue being discussed in Fifth Comite, Phillips recalled that two-tier arrangement of UN assessments (capacity to pay and limit on maximum contributor) in effect since inception of organization. He said that issue was political as well as financial, noting in passing Chinese sensitivity to political dependence issue. He outlined importance USG attaches to 25 percent issue and expressed belief that favorable UN handling of US res would permit continuing generous US voluntary support for UN programs. He said we now have firm commitments of support for 25 percent res from more than 50 UN members, but we expect a close vote and, therefore, hope that China would be able to abstain rather than oppose us.
Huang Hua replied that they had read our documents and, as result of Phillips’ presentation, they had clearer understanding of US position. He said that Chinese would study matter further, adding that perhaps something could be worked out during the normal tri-annual reassessment process. He agreed with Phillips’ point that matter was basically political. Perhaps, he said, some “middle way” could be found.
Phillips asked whether “middle way” meant halfway between 31.5 percent and 25 percent. When Huang Hua nodded, Phillips said he could hold out no hope on this score. Referring to Congressional sentiment, he added that, if US draft res were to fail, Congress might be tempted to slash our voluntary contributions to UN system.
Huang Hua stated that PRC cannot support US draft res and pointed out that not much money involved in any event. Noting that Congress had already taken firm position on 25 percent, Huang Hua said China would prefer to handle matter through normal UN financial processes.
Phillips agreed only $13 million at stake but stressed importance of principle involved. Admitting that Congress had acted on matter recently, he recalled February 1972 Presidential policy statement in support of 25 percent in response to earlier recommendation of Lodge Commission. He also stressed intent of US to negotiate within UN context to achieve Presidential policy. Phillips concluded with request for Chinese abstention or, at very least, Chinese decision not to lead crusade against US.
Smiling, Huang Hua promised they would study matter and mentioned again desirability of “middle way.”
Comment: While it far from certain that China will abstain on 25 percent, we believe that Chinese now better understand context of issue, which may lead them to temper their statements and actions. If so, we will have realized our purpose in talking again with them.
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, UN 10–4. Confidential. Repeated to Hong Kong.