302. Memorandum From Winston Lord of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1


  • United Nations Membership

Attached is a memorandum to you from Dick Smyser suggesting that we move toward a Two-China policy with regard to Chinese representation in the United Nations.2


The first point to make about his memo is that it is too late to evolve our position on this question this year—we should hold the line until the voting takes place and then review our policy. The second point is that it is clear from our public statements that we are already moving in the direction that Smyser suggests, i.e., the careful formulation that “we are opposed to Communist China’s entry at the expense of Taiwan.”

With regard to the tactical question in New York, almost every year we are told that we must change our policy because we cannot win the next year. A few years ago there was a tie on the Albanian resolution, and many observers said that the handwriting was clear—yet our margin increased in subsequent years. Admittedly, with the Canadian move, Italy, Belgium and possibly Luxemburg in the wings, probable [Page 528] dents in the Latin American front (i.e., Chile, Bolivia), and a possible multiplier effect on others, there is more solid reason than before to worry about the future tactical situation. But I don’t think the evidence is conclusive, nor do I think this should be the controlling argument.

Smyser lists three advantages in moving toward a Two-China posture at the UN—I think two are without merit:

  • Embarrass the Soviets—It’s hard to see how or why we would embarrass the Soviets. They would probably continue their present policy of supporting the admission of Peking and the expulsion of Taiwan, without overly exerting themselves, no matter what we do. The more relevant point on the Soviets is that we would stir their nervousness about US-Chinese relations, but in a way that they could not complain about.
  • Might improve our relations with Peking (Smyser does emphasize the “might”)—This is highly doubtful given Peking’s violent objections to any Two-China formulation. An interesting question here is how we relate this issue to the Warsaw Talks or even whether it should be related at all.
  • Move us to a stronger wicket in the UN—I would agree with this, but as I have indicated, I do not believe it should be the controlling factor in our decision.

Smyser also suggests that a shift in our policy might make Hanoi nervous and therefore be helpful in the Vietnam context. I find this unconvincing. If anything were to make Hanoi nervous and more amenable to negotiations, it would be our dialogue in Warsaw. Our previous conversations there, our changed rhetoric on China, and our modest unilateral steps on China policy have not made Hanoi nervous so far.

Launching Studies

Having said all this, I still agree with Smyser that we should take a hard look at this question. Before doing so, however, we should decide whether we want to look at it in isolation or as part of an overall review of our policy toward United Nations membership and the universality question. Should we look only at the China angle, or does it make substantive and public relations sense to study at the same time the questions of Germany, Vietnam and Korea?

I believe that the entire universality question should be studied. If, however, you choose only to look at the China aspect, the logical group would be the new China Policy Group which you plan to establish per Dick Moorsteen’s suggestion.3

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There should not even be a hint of a study until the voting has taken place in New York, but one should be launched after that. There are two obvious bureaucratic routes: (1) issue a NSSM, and (2) do an NSC internal study.

I think we should do both. The former has the advantage of bringing in State with its obvious interest and expertise on these questions— I am still a believer in involving the State Department wherever possible. We can count on immediate leaks that such a study has been launched, but the public impact should be manageable and not necessarily all bad. In any event, we cannot not undertake studies which need to be done just because their existence might become known.

At the same time, I think it makes sense to move ahead within the staff with a parallel internal study to insure a dispassionate look at these issues and to sharpen your own thinking as the bureaucracy’s study comes to the Senior Review Group.

Marshall Wright, in both his UN and long-range planning hats, is the logical man to head up an NSC study, working with Holdridge and Sonnenfeldt.


1. That a NSSM be drafted and issued after the UN vote, calling for a study on the entire universality question (action to Wright and Kennedy, with Holdridge/Sonnenfeldt concurrence).


Disapprove, NSSM on China question only

Disapprove, no NSSM

2. That action on this NSSM be assigned to an ad hoc group, chaired by a representative of the Secretary of State (presumably De Palma), with the study to be submitted to the Senior Review Group.


Disapprove, assign to new China Policy Group5

3. That Wright, with Holdridge/Sonnenfeldt, undertake a parallel in-house study of the UN membership/universality question.



  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, S/P Files: Lot 77 D 112, Policy Planning Staff, Director’s Files, Winston Lord Chron, October 11–31, 1970. Secret; Sensitive; Eyes Only. Sent for action. A handwritten notation on the memorandum reads: “Al, Win informed. Pouch back.”
  2. Memorandum dated October 26, attached but not printed.
  3. Reference is to NSSM 106, November 19; see footnote 1, Document 312.
  4. Kissinger initialed this option and wrote: “Can we phrase it more neutrally?”
  5. Kissinger initialed this option and wrote: “Let’s discuss.”
  6. Kissinger initialed this option.