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

408. Subj: Chinese Representation in UN.

In view major and politically costly effort required on continuing basis to maintain status quo on Chirep, it seems to us not too early to review whither our longstanding tactics in GA lead and whether modification seems warranted in light our overall China policy. We believe our policy toward China should dictate our tactics on Chirep issue in UN rather than vice-versa.
Present tactics. Our current estimate of probable voting situation at upcoming 25th GA is that, barring unforeseen developments and provided we again wage strong campaign especially with LAs, it would be possible again this year to obtain: (A) reaffirmation that change in Chirep requires two-thirds vote (IQ res); (B) rejection by slim margin of Albanian-type res calling for ouster of GRC and seating of PRC (by reason of res’s failure secure even simple majority); and (C) subsequent approval of GRC credentials.
However, prospects are that in near future [or] thereafter majority will shift in favor of Albanian-type res. This could happen as early as upcoming GA if, for example, current negotiations between Canada and/or Italy and PRC on recognition issue should be successfully concluded within next few months, with result that Canada and Italy, accompanied by like-minded countries, switch from abstentions to positive votes on Albanian res. Colombia, Mexico and some other LAs also may follow Chile’s example at 24th GA and abstain on Albanian res.
Once simple majority votes in favor Albanian-type res, it likely be mere question of time before Chirep question is posed in terms credentials issue and resolved on simple majority, irrespective of efforts we might make to forestall such development. We foresee specifically that when simple majority tips in favor Albanian res, same majority can be expected, at same or immediately subsequent GA, to insist on separate vote on GRC credentials and reject them, with result that seat of China could temporarily fall vacant with prospect being subsequently filled by PRC reps. At minimum, we would no longer be able to obtain favorable composition of Credentials Comite and our margin on IQ res would begin to decline markedly. Break in dike in GA would lead to crumbling of GRC position throughout UN system, including [Page 502] SAs which, pursuant GA res 396(V), follow GA lead on issues involving representation of member states.
In summary, maintenance of our present tactics seems likely lead to early replacement (1971 or 1972) of GRC by PRC throughout UN system, imminence such development depending in part on behavior PRC in current negotiations with several states and in part on how heavily we are prepared continue lobby with friendly govts in NY and in capitals.
Two Chinas. In recent years a UN favored alternative to standing fast on traditional position, with eventual consequences outlined above, has been one or another form of “two Chinas” solution. If this should commend itself to USG, we could either ourselves promote some such initiative or encourage friendly state to do so; in latter case we could at least ostensibly remain on sidelines and either go along or abstain if initiative were successful.
Possibilities range from pressing anew for thrice-rejected res to establish study comite (with implication of “two Chinas” solution) to seeking outright GA endorsement of successor-state res which would note that governmental authority in territory under Chinese administration at time China became UN member is now exercised by GRC with its seat in Taipei and by PRC with its seat in Peking; would affirm continuing membership of Republic of China in UN; and express willingness seat PRC as member in addition to GRC, upon notification by former that it accepts UN Charter and membership obligations thereof.
However, it seems questionable that necessary two-thirds support for any approach calling for double-representation on separate state basis is likely be forthcoming or that such an approach could provide viable solution for Chirep problem. In view their consistent and vehement opposition to “two Chinas” concept, both GRC and PRC would refuse to participate in GA on such basis and would oppose proposed arrangement so strongly that necessary majority seems unattainable, even if US actively supports. Furthermore, for US to support or even fail actively to oppose any initiative in such direction would not only precipitate familiar crisis in our relations with Taipei but also perhaps be interpreted by Peking as new effort to perpetuate division of China and hence be viewed as hostile act toward PRC. The above estimate of non-success remains valid even if US were to induce third party (e.g., Belgium) to carry “two Chinas” ball in UN.
Alternative approach—one-China. Possible new variant on “two Chinas” theme within technical legal framework of “one China” might be approached based on precedent under which USSR has two extra seats in UN for constituent “republics”. Under such approach GA would adopt res which accepts view of both Taipei and Peking that [Page 503]China is a single state, of which Taiwan is a constituent part, and decides that in view circumstances in this case seats in Assembly should be offered to both pending resolution by peaceful means of issue between them. As part of this, SC seat would go to PRC. Under this procedure we could nevertheless continue to recognize GRC and to protect Formosa pursuant our existing treaty commitments unless and until de facto reunification is decided by parties themselves by peaceful means.
However, necessary two-thirds majority for interim solution along these lines also seems unlikely to be forthcoming in absence reasonable prospect parties would refrain from active opposition and would be prepared acquiesce in such decision. We are not sufficiently familiar with Warsaw talks to know whether it would be appropriate and useful to raise this possibility there but would appreciate Dept’s thinking on this point. Whether or not PRC is willing acquiesce in such an approach, we would have to be prepared for a major confrontation with GRC which would, at minimum, make decision go along only if it were convinced it has no other alternative. We could in any case, if this alternative commends itself to Dept, consult informally about it with our major Asian supporters on this issue (Japan, Australia, New Zealand) and perhaps with some others (Canada, Italy, Belgium) who have been most interested in finding new course.
Basic issue, as we suggested at outset this telegram, is whether our overall policy is designed to move toward accommodation with PRC, without abandoning GRC. If so, our Chirep policy at UN should be geared to this objective. Alternative strategy we suggest may not prove workable, however unpalatable to both Peking and Taipei, but it seems to us nevertheless best possibility for forestalling total exclusion of latter without adopting posture unacceptable in principle to former. It would in any case have advantage of moving away from position which is rapidly becoming untenable, of demonstrating our willingness to see PRC seated in UN under arrangements which are not inconsistent with its claims, and of relieving US from political liability of defending to last ditch cause which seems more and more unrealistic and which indeed is inconsistent with our emerging policy toward China.
We would appreciate Dept’s comments on foregoing.
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 297, Agency Files, USUN, Vol. II. Secret; Exdis.