320. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Chinese Representation in the United Nations


  • His Excellency Frank Corner, Ambassador E. and P., Embassy of New Zealand
  • Mr. Marshall Green, Assistant Secretary—EA
  • Mr. Martin F. Herz, Acting Assistant Secretary—IO
  • Mr. Alfred le S. Jenkins, Director, ACA
Ambassador Corner opened by observing that we are all faced with quandaries concerning China just now, and that it is important to keep in consultation. He said this was one of the few issues having important public opinion significance in New Zealand. Opinion is divided, but a fair number say that it is ridiculous to have China not represented in the UN. However, GRC representatives have done their work well in New Zealand and the China problem has the makings of quite an issue. There is no great division between the Labor and Nationalist parties. Labor dropped the issue from its formal agenda. The China question is, however, bound up with New Zealand-US relations because the US is regarded as the chief supporter of the GRC. If the GRC is forced out of the UN there would be an inclination in New Zealand to conclude that Peking should be recognized. The voice of the UN would have spoken, and the two issues of UN representation and diplomatic recognition are closely interrelated in the average New Zealander’s view. The Ambassador said what is really wanted is a two Chinas solution, and in the last two years the Government has appeared to favor two Chinas.
Mr. Green asked whether the New Zealand public appreciated the fact that both Chinas are opposed to a two Chinas solution. The Ambassador replied that newspapers periodically reminded the public of this fact but there was not general awareness, even so, that we cannot have both in the UN. Holyoake had said that he believed that Chiang might stay in the UN even if Peking were in the Security Council and the GRC seat there was lost, but the Ambassador did not think so. The Ambassador further thought that whenever the issue of having one or the other China in the UN arose starkly the sentiment would overwhelmingly be to “let the GRC go.” It seemed clear to the Ambassador [Page 561]that we would end with Peking in and Taipei out. In response to a question from Mr. Herz he said he thought this would happen soon.
Mr. Herz said we have been trying to think through various alternative courses of action, without coming to any conclusion. We did believe that a two China resolution might draw votes from the Albanian Resolution. In answer to probing by Ambassador Corner about the legal aspects of such a resolution, Mr. Herz said that a number of dual representation formulas could be envisaged which would be difficult to attack on legal grounds. At any rate, legal obstacles could be overcome if there were sufficient political will behind a movement for such a solution.
The Ambassador thought that legal arguments augmented the position of those already disposed toward the question but did little else. He thought the “Important Question game was probably up.” He thought it possible to contrive it so that for a time we would have neither China in the UN. In domestic terms the New Zealand Government wanted to find something which would enable it to say that it was willing to have Peking in the UN but unwilling to throw the GRC out but it must find a way for the formula not to be denounced as a gimmick. For instance, New Zealand had formerly put forward at US behest the idea of a study group. The New Zealand public saw through that as the gimmick that it was. This left a bad taste.
The Ambassador said that in more general terms his Government was worried about what would happen if the GRC were out. If this should encourage Taiwan to make a deal with the mainland, his Government thinks this would be bad. Or would this hasten the time when we would get an independent Formosa? If so, this would be in our interest. (1) New Zealand is interested in the effect on the strategic situation in the area, (2) the public reaction and (3) the linkage of the problem with New Zealand’s relations with the US. If we use a gimmick and that gimmick is associated with the US it will harm our relations, since the public will feel that New Zealand followed slavishly US desires. Mr. Green observed that we had a similar problem in being accused of being subservient to Chang Kai-shek.
The Ambassador observed that if the Soviets should back a two Chinas resolution this would greatly enhance the prospects for its passage. Mr. Green thought it would be hard for the Soviets to change their position even though they do not want to see Peking in the UN. They want others to do battle on keeping them out. Mr. Herz agreed.
Mr. Green emphasized the importance of Japan’s views on this whole question. He said we believe that the Japanese have not decided their policy in this regard as yet. In any event we certainly want to know more about other countries’ views before we make definitive [Page 562]decisions. The Ambassador asked whether Japan wanted a separate Formosa. Mr. Green said he thought they did. They used to talk openly of a one China, one Taiwan solution. In public, however, they have shifted to a one China theme. Nevertheless, it seems fairly certain that the Japanese actually want an independent Taiwan. The strategic considerations are perhaps more fundamental to Japan than to any one else, and her economic interests in Taiwan are also great. Japan would want to keep Taiwan out of Communist hands. Japan would not be as worried as some of us if the GRC simply quit the UN. Some Japanese are even willing to encourage the GRC to do so, but this would not solve the matter for Japan. There would still be the question of recognition on the agenda. Sato probably has reservations about any change in the current Japanese stand, but he does not want to be charged with inflexibility. Japan also has a strong sentimental attachment for China, and it is salivating over prospects for increased trade with the mainland. The Japanese people tend to think there is more potentiality for better relations than does the Government. The PRC in the UN is not a very attractive prospect for any of us. Nevertheless, it does represent a quarter of humanity; there are practical problems which cannot be solved without China’s cooperation; and with increased international intercourse we can hope for a better attitude toward the world on Peking’s part.
Mr. Herz said that if we believe that in a comparatively short time we will in any event have the PRC in the UN and the GRC out, one could argue that we might well let the Albanian Resolution pass and get the agony over with.
Mr. Green observed that because of domestic opinion it is very difficult to stick with a formula which faces defeat and which would appear to make us lacking in flexibility and realism.
The Ambassador said that if we mounted a great effort to pass a two Chinas resolution we might get it through and the result might be an empty China seat because both sides refused dual representation. Mr. Green said there could be a formula where the GRC would not walk out and we would still not have the PRC in. Mr. Herz added that if the GRC did walk out, Peking might very well come in since it could consider itself vindicated. Mr. Herz mentioned that there are some who believe that through great effort we might be able to pass a two Chinas resolution by a two-thirds majority (employing the IQ device), in which case it would then take a two-thirds majority to overturn it. In response to a question from Mr. Green, Mr. Jenkins said that he thought in all likelihood if a seat were offered to Peking and denied to the GRC that Peking would accept and enter the UN promptly. However, we should not rule out the possibility that Peking would play a bit hard to get, attempting in effect to exact an apology from the UN for its having spurned the PRC for so long.
Mr. Green said before we moved much further he would want to know whether the present formula might hold for another year, and what were possible voting patterns on variants of dual representation formulas. Mr. Green thought that if we did not try a two Chinas solution the American people would not be satisfied that such was in fact impossible. The Ambassador said that the minute we put forward a two Chinas formula we are undermining the GRC’s raison d’etre. He thought we had both already partly given that away. Mr. Green responded that the US has not really given that position away. We still maintain that the status of Formosa is undetermined.
Mr. Green thought that for the present we should do the necessary nose counting on possible Chirep formulas but not talk much about it. Mr. Green said he would certainly welcome the New Zealand Government’s views at any stage, as well as those of the Ambassador, whose UN experience was extensive.
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, UN 6 CHICOM. Secret. Drafted by Jenkins.