323. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Chirep


  • Samuel De Palma, Assistant Secretary for International Organization Affairs
  • Winthrop Brown, Deputy Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs
  • Harvey Feldman, IO/UNP
  • Guy E. Millard, Minister, British Embassy
  • John Boyd, British Embassy

Mr. Millard began by noting that he was calling pursuant to instructions. Some months earlier, Mr. John Morgan of FCO had inquired what the US attitude might be if the UK stopped supporting the US position on the Important Question. He now wished to ask the same question, but more formally.

Mr. Millard went on to note that Britain has supported the US on the IQ for the past ten years, largely because of the close relations between our two countries and not really because of British agreement with the principle involved. The entire matter of China policy is under active study in London at the moment. The UK now has better relations with the PRC than they have had for some time. The Chinese have recently released the last of their British prisoners. It appears there is now an opportunity for the UK to improve relations further with the PRC, and put them on a long-term basis. At the same time, the UK might be able to assist in bringing the PRC more fully into the international community. In addition to these considerations, as far as the IQ itself is concerned, it appears to be a rapidly sinking ship. Speaking quite frankly, said Mr. Millard, the UK would not want to be one of the bitter-enders, particularly since this would incur Peking’s wrath in behalf of a cause which appears lost in any event.

For these reasons, Mr. Millard said, the UK has come to consider that it can no longer support the US on the Important Question but has not decided whether it would vote against or abstain on IQ. In addition, again under instructions, he wished to make two further points:

The UK could not support any new Chirep tactic which seemed to be a procedural device for further delay;
The UK could not support any “Two Chinas” tactic, since this seemed quite unrealistic.

Mr. Millard noted that these were preliminary views. No final decisions had yet been made, but the British Government would appreciate receiving a considered American response.

In reply, Mr. De Palma noted that the US also has not yet reached the point of taking decisions on the Chirep problem, but is attempting to study the entire question as thoroughly as possible. However, in the course of this study, we definitely have not come to the view that the Important Question is no longer valid or no longer important to us. We therefore hope that the British Government will be willing to itself hold off a final decision on this matter, at least until the situation at the next General Assembly can be more clearly foreseen. That situation might well be quite different from what it has been in the past.

Regarding the question of “new tactics”, Mr. De Palma expressed the view that here too one would have to look carefully into the situation. In our study of the problem, we have not been able to identify any new approach that clearly would move the matter to a final solution once and for all time. But this did not necessarily mean that any new initiative taken to deal with the problem was merely a delaying tactic. If a reasonable suggestion is put forward, and if the two parties denounce it, this does not mean the suggestion was put forward as a delaying tactic.

Similarly with regard to the “Two Chinas” matter, Mr. De Palma continued, many different types of proposal could be, and would be labelled a “Two Chinas” tactic by the PRC or the GRC. But this did not mean that the proposal ipso facto should be discarded. The intent of the proposal and the manner of its application should also be taken very much into account—one should not be boxed in by labels.

Ambassador Brown expressed the hope the British Government would understand that the US was really taking a completely fresh look at the situation; it was not just a matter of refurbishing old tactics to make them appear better, or stand a better chance of success. The US is studying what is possible, what might be desirable, and what might be least undesirable. Before taking any decisions, we would like to consult closely with the UK and with other key governments, in order to benefit by their views. We hope that U.K. thinking will not be put into final form until we have had these consultations, and that the UK will not at the moment adopt final positions on the Important Question, dual representation, or anything else. At the end of the process we may come out with different conclusions, Ambassador Brown noted, but we should discuss these questions fully before reaching decisions.

Mr. Millard asked when it might be reasonable to expect to hold these consultations, and Ambassador Brown and De Palma agreed [Page 571]that it should be possible in about five or six weeks. Ambassador Brown noted that it was not the US intention to stall on the issue, but rather that we hoped to go into this thoroughly within a reasonable period of time and therefore would like to ask that the British Government not take a firm decision at this point. Mr. De Palma expressed the hope that the British would not in any case make their views on the IQ generally known at this point.

Mr. Millard observed that it will not be possible to hold London off for long on this matter, since it is a matter of ministerial interest, and expressed the hope that discussions could begin soon.

As the meeting was breaking up, Mr. Boyd observed to Mr. Feldman that in their reference to not supporting any “Two Chinas” move, the UK meant it to be understood that they had in mind any “Two Chinas” strategy, no matter how it was technically described.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, UN 6 CHICOM. Secret. Drafted on January 22 by Feldman and cleared by De Palma, Brown, and Armitage.