322. Memonradum of Conversation1


  • Chirep


  • M. Pierre Harmel, FonMin of Belgium
  • Vicomte Etienne Davignon, DirGen for PolAffairs, Belgian FonMin
  • Ambassador Walter Loridan, Belgian Ambassador to US
  • M. Paul Noterdaeme, Chef de Cabinet, Belgian FonMin
  • M. Roland d’Anethan, Director of Western European and North American Affairs, Belgian FonMin
  • M. Rene Lion, Deputy Chief of Mission, Belgian Embassy
  • M. Hugo Paemen, Press Officer, Belgian FonMin
  • Marshall Green, AsstSec for East Asian & Pacific Affairs
  • Samuel De Palma, AsstSec for International Organization Affairs
  • Thomas P. Shoesmith, Country Director for Republic of China Affairs
  • J. Theodore Papendorp, EUR/FBX
  • Harvey Feldman, IO/UNP
  • Alec Toumayan, OPR/LS

After welcoming Foreign Minister Harmel and his suite, Mr. Green noted that the US was concentrating very hard on the Chirep problem and although we had not yet reached any decisions, we were actively considering alternatives. We would be very pleased to hear the Foreign Minister’s views.

Mr. Harmel began by mentioning that Belgium’s views on the matter were not determined by domestic political difficulties or a need to deal with parliamentary pressures. Rather Belgium feels that the Albanian resolution is a bad presentation of the Chirep issue, and yet if [Page 566]matters take their present course before long the Albanian resolution will pass, Peking will be seated in the Security Council and Taiwan will be expelled from the UN entirely. If, after that, the PRC should attempt to use force to seize Taiwan, and if the U.S. and Japan or others went to Taiwan’s assistance, they would find themselves opposed by the UN.

Mr. Harmel then took up the matter of the Important Question procedure, saying that there is no longer any certainty that the IQ will again receive majority support in the Assembly. The vote in favor of the IQ is narrowing steadily, and Belgium believes that Canada, Italy, Austria and others will not maintain their present position of supporting it. A shift of even a few votes would put the IQ in jeopardy, and it would be an act of carelessness not to have other alternatives available to meet the situation.

There are points that must be avoided in any new approach to the Chirep problem, Mr. Harmel continued. What must be avoided are: accepting Peking by expelling Taiwan; calling for PRC admission as a new member (since it will refuse to do this); calling for Taiwan to apply as a new member (since its application would be vetoed). The crux of the matter, however, is Taiwan’s insistence that it is the only legitimate government of China and its refusal to give up its Security Council seat. Obviously Taiwan is a state, but equally obviously it is not a great power and thus is not entitled to a Security Council seat. Taiwan’s insistence that it is such a state only gives weapons to the supporters of the Albanian resolution. Sooner or later diplomatic action must be taken to make the GRC understand that it is in its interest to remain in the UN, but to acquiesce in a dual representation formula under which the Security Council seat would go to the PRC.

Mr. Harmel noted that the legal basis for a dual representation resolution could be, briefly: (1) the PRC is one of the five major states described in Article 23 of the Charter; (2) the GRC, though changed in size and scope, remains a state with all the attributes of sovereignty and therefore should remain a member of the UN.

As far as Belgium is concerned, Mr. Harmel continued, it has no great desire to be in the forefront on this issue. If the US, Japan, Australia and the other countries more immediately concerned say that something can be done along these lines, Belgium is willing to play its part fully; it does not insist on the exact wording suggested, or even this specific approach. Belgium would like to find a way out of the impasse. If the GRC continues to claim to be the sole legitimate government of China, and digs its own grave, “we will attend the funeral and shed some—but not all the tears.” It is not too soon to look for a way out. If support for the Important Question drops, and particularly if Canada, Austria and Italy change their position (as is likely), there will be great pressure on the Benelux countries to do the same.

[Page 567]

Mr. Green thanked Minister Harmel for his thoughtful and well-stated views. He noted that if dual representation were tried, there would be difficulties with the PRC as well as the GRC. The old line GRC leaders will be thoroughly opposed. Although there is some recognition of a need for a change lower down the line, even those leaders would find it difficult to go along. Mr. Green asked Mr. Shoesmith’s views on the question, and Mr. Shoesmith rated the chance of GRC acceptance at about 5%. Continuing, Mr. Green pointed out that even if one could get GRC acquiescence in dual representation, the PRC would continue to refuse to join the UN as long as Taiwan remained in the organization. He asked how Minister Harmel would view this development.

Mr. Harmel observed that the Belgian Government would shed no tears if the PRC refused to take an offered seat. What mattered most of all was that the seat not be vacated through GRC expulsion, and that both Chinese parties understood that despite their claims and counterclaims, the issues would have to be resolved peacefully, under the control and protection of the UN. He noted that changes do occur over time; once the West Germans emphasized the Hallstein doctrine with no flexibility at all, and now they themselves say they do not oppose separate UN membership for the two Germanies. If the Albanian resolution passes, there are no options for the future; if some other solution is put forward, the options remain open.

Mr. De Palma mentioned the difficulty of keeping the General Assembly from bowing to PRC pressures. Dual representation or some other formula short of the Albanian resolution might well become interim stages on the way to ultimate passage of the Albanian resolution by the Assembly. This raises the question of whether it is better at all to put forward short-term formulas since they would not be a final solution. Mr. De Palma also noted that the Belgian draft does not mention the principle of universality at all, and asked Minister Harmel whether he thought universality might be a first step toward dual representation.

Mr. Harmel thought not; universality would create problems for the West Germans and others. Combining Chirep and universality might complicate matters and yet not prevent the Albanian resolution from making progress. It would be best to keep the two problems separate. Vicomte Davignon observed that if one put forward the principle of universality, one would still have to contend with the view that the GRC is not China.

Mr. Green expressed concern that if we just stick with our present policy, the PRC will get in on its own terms. The US Government would come in for a great deal of domestic criticism. Most people in the US would prefer to see a dual representation solution and there would be support for the Belgian position. But the GRC is bound to be opposed. [Page 568]It is hard enough for them to move over time to accept dual representation; all the harder for them to accede to the PRC taking the Security Council seat and to make so great a shift in policy in the course of one year. If the US and others attempted to persuade them to do so, and if they refused, this would impair the US–GRC relationship. At any rate, Mr. Green continued, the results of the voting on the Albanian resolution at the last Assembly have persuaded the Nationalists to begin thinking the unthinkable.

Mr. Harmel observed that unfortunately, we do not have several years available to educate the GRC. He expressed grave doubts that they can be persuaded of anything, and noted that they still talked of re-capturing the mainland by military means—an attitude which he called an “abyss of unreality”. If the GRC is willing to exist outside of the UN, well and good; that is what would happen if they continued on their present course.

Mr. Green noted that no one on Taiwan realistically expects to recapture the mainland militarily any more, and added that some are even coming around to viewing with relative understanding the US position on seeking better relations with Peking. But, he added, the present situation demands a great leap in their thinking all at once, and this is most difficult for them.

Mr. Harmel said that Belgium is prepared to continue sharing views with the US on this matter. If studies are to be made, Belgium will be happy to cooperate. But, he observed, it is now January and if nothing has been decided by July, it will then be too late—the situation will pass from our control. Belgium would like to participate in working out a solution—and does not believe that half-way measures like the Study Committee are of use any longer. However, Belgium will not take any separate initiatives and will act only as a member of a group. He noted that last year, when they floated their draft resolution, they encountered more opposition from the East Europeans, and particularly the Soviet Union, than from their Western allies.

Mr. De Palma asked if Belgium had continued to discuss dual representation formulas with other countries in the period since the General Assembly, and Mr. Harmel replied they had not.

Mr. Green again expressed great thanks to Minister Harmel and his party.

(In a subsequent luncheon conversation with Minister Harmel, Mr. Green requested that the Belgians convey to us the reactions of other countries to the Harmel proposal. Minister Harmel said his government would do so.)

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, UN 6 CHICOM. Secret; Noforn; Exdis. Drafted January 26 by Feldman; cleared by Armitage, De Palma, Green, Shoesmith, and J. Theodore Papendorp; and approved in S/S-S on February 1.