297. Memorandum of Conversation1

SUBJECT

  • Chinese Representation at the 25th General Assembly

PARTICIPANTS

  • Marshall Green, Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs
  • Albert Lakeland, Executive Assistant to Senator Javits of New York
  • Alfred le S. Jenkins, Director of the Office of Asian Communist Affairs
  • Louise McNutt, UN Advisor, Office of Regional Affairs

Mr. Lakeland, who called at his own request, opened the conversation by noting that Senator Javits would be handling the Chinese [Page 518]Representation issue for the United States at this General Assembly. He said that the Senator hoped that this Government could move its position off dead center at this session and he was anxious to use his influence in the direction of some new and constructive solution. Senator Javits as a leading Republican Senator and a member of the Foreign Relations Committee was in an excellent position to make such a contribution. Mr. Lakeland also said that in talks with leading personalities such as Dr. Reischauer it seemed plain that this year might be a particularly opportune time to work toward a new position. While Mr. Lakeland did not advocate any particular new initiative, as the conversation developed he mentioned the possibility of a study committee or some sort of dual representation resolution, or that we could suggest in our speech that we welcome new approaches. Mr. Lakeland argued that staying with the present sterile position could end in disaster. It was no longer tenable to support the idea that the GRC was the Government of all of China or to allow Taipei to lock us into a position on these issues. If we do not move to shape our position to new realities, the situation would be out of our control, with the Chinese Communists seated in the UN on their terms and with consequent severe problems in Congress and with the American people. He acknowledged that we had made a number of recent gestures toward Peking but he felt that the Congress and the people were really ahead of the Department on this issue.

Mr. Green, after noting that he had read with interest Senator Javits’ recent statements on China, went on to stress that his further remarks were confidential. He said that we were in agreement that there should be movement on this issue, but added that the core of the question was tactics and timing. He did not believe that this was the year to change; for one thing we were now too close to the time of the vote. The important matter was to create conditions in which Peking and Taipei would be more flexible. We do not know when any changes in their positions might take place—it may be some distance down the pike, but Peking had actually made some movement in this regard. For example it showed more evidence of wanting to join the UN; it was not, apparently, posing as many pre-conditions for its membership; it gave some evidence that it was moving away from extremism; and was becoming generally more active in matters of trade and diplomatic relations.

Taipei is a real problem. Perhaps its rigid view will remain as long as the Gimo lives. But it also seems possible that developments at this Assembly—the possibility of a close vote or perhaps a plurality against us on the Albanian resolution and the possibility—even probability— that the Canadians and the Italians will be successful in reaching agreement with Peking on recognition—may force the GRC to look around for other formulations and to view their position more realistically. [Page 519]Then we can perhaps try to move to something else. We see a change in the position at the UN as a developing and evolving process. We do not now know what precise shape such change will take but as moves are made it is highly important to maintain the confidence of the GRC and we must do our best to support it. Moreover we want to be able to avoid any dangerous reaction from Taipei. Mr. Green went on to speculate that what evolves may take some special Asian form that we cannot now envision. He recalled that during the Off-Shore Islands crisis no one could have possibly foreseen that it would end in a pattern of propaganda shelling every other day.

As for our bilateral position we have already come a long way. For a number of years now we have acknowledged that the Chinese Communists govern on the mainland and that the GRC governs on Taipei and the Pescadores. Indeed, tacitly, we believe that we should at some time have relations with Peking. Moreover we have given some thought to what we want to see evolve on the mainland. We believe it is in our interest that it be a viable entity, with a material life worth preserving, thereby tending the regime toward prudence rather than desperation.

As far as the situation in the UN is concerned we think it will in time fall into place. But we have to move with care. It is not only a question of Taipei’s attitude. The attitude and position of the Japanese must be taken into account; a sudden move could create problems for Tokyo. And there is also the problem of Taipei’s other Asian neighbors. In noting the apparent opposition of the Soviets to having the ChiComs in the UN, Mr. Green speculated as to whether there was any way to get them out in front on this.

Toward the end of the conversation Mr. Lakeland said that he did not feel the Senator would be satisfied with these answers; he will want to pursue the idea of reaching some change in our position this year. He again alluded to the attitudes of people generally and in Congress (though he acknowledged there were currents and counter currents on the Hill on this issue). And he spoke of our need to show a general capacity for leadership on this question and not be hobbled by bureaucratic inertia.

Mr. Green, in reply, said that he thought that in our China policy we had achieved a great deal already; that we had moved in concert with the Congress and the press. We have shifted the pace and degree of our actions. But we have to evaluate what the traffic can bear. The central issue is tactics and to bring the GRC along with us. He suggested, however, that Senator Javits might want to talk with the Delegation about his ideas on this question.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, UN 6 CHICOM. Secret. Drafted by McNutt.