332. Telegram From the the Embassy in Australia to the Department of State1

1151. Subj: Discussion of Chirep with Prime Minister.

Summary. Prime Minister Gorton describing GOA position said that past Chirep policy no longer promising, new approach needed, but every effort should be made preserve GRC position so far as possible. End summary.
Ambassador Rice, Brown and Jenkins met with Prime Minister Gorton March 1 for one hour devoted entirely to Chirep. Prime Minister opened with observation prospects not good for our present position on Chirep. PRC one way or another would be in UN in next year or two. Asked what we planned to do about situation.
Brown said US felt our present course would almost certainly lead to defeat probably this year; if not then, certainly in 1972. Even if we should succeed on IQ this fall, margin of victory likely to be small and expenditure of effort and diplomatic capital required to achieve it very large. Gorton indicated preference for change of approach now rather than postponement to 1972.
Brown emphasized US had reached no decisions and would not pending completion of discussions with governments most interested in problem. At official level, however, some form of dual representation had appeal as probably most reasonable course. US preliminary estimate was that such an approach might receive substantial support from UN membership. It would have to be seen as genuine effort solve problem, however, and this meant Security Council seat would have to go to Peking. Gorton readily agreed, adding that in his view attitude of GRC was key to success. GRC would have to accept loss of Security Council seat and in effect also accept that it was the government of Taiwan. A seat for it in the GA in that capacity should be assured before allowing PRC into UN with veto power. Then it would take two-thirds vote to oust GRC, which unlikely.
Ambassador Rice said British were not being very helpful. They had told us not only would it be very difficult for them to support IQ again this year, but one British working level official had even said UK could not support any form of dual representation formula. Gorton said that surprised him. He inclined believe UK might still find it possible [Page 604] to go along with dual representation. Brown said we might at some point want Australia’s help in enlisting UK support.
Prime Minister said Australia very anxious so far as possible preserve status Taiwan, but this could not be done unless GRC recognized situation as it was. He thought Brown’s party in its coming visit to Taiwan had no choice but to state situation forthrightly as USG saw it and ask what GRC felt should be done about it. Brown said high level GRC official told us GRC’s most basic position was avoidance any formula which would negate GRC’s claim to be sole legitimate government of all of China. In addition, GRC would find loss of Security Council seat “very hard to swallow.” Jenkins said great difficulty was that GRC claim to be government of all China was closely related to its very raison d’etre as national government and hence legitimacy of mainlander control of Taiwan polity. Prime Minister said if GRC would not bring itself to recognize its actual situation as government controlling Taiwan and Pescadores, it would be very hard for its friends to help it maintain its membership. Said it would raise real problems if GRC insisted on including Quemoy and Matsu in its territory.
Prime Minister asked whether we detected any flexibility in GRC position. Brown said that at the official level in GRC there was discussion of alternative courses which would have been unthinkable two or three years ago. We did not know what President Chiang’s actual thinking was, but one small ray of hope was assurance given us by one top GRC official that Chiang was extremely well versed in the whole Chirep problem. Gorton asked whether we would be seeing Chiang Ching-kuo, implying he thought this would be useful. Brown said he would rely on Ambassador McConaughy’s judgment on that.
Gorton said he would be most interested in what we learned in Taipei about GRC attitude. Brown promised keep in close touch, but said we did not expect obtain definitive GRC position on this trip. He rather suspected Chiang might wait until last minute before revealing how far he would be willing to go. He might not be able at any point to favor dual representation, as certainly Peking would not, but Chiang might not work against.
Brown asked Prime Minister what he thought we should all do if Chiang refused to acquiesce in dual representation approach and insisted that we all “work hard” for another year on IQ and opposition to Albanian resolution. Gorton said even if we did so and succeeded, we would have only postponed the problem a year, and success in any event doubtful. Gorton thought if GRC refused to cooperate in its friends’ efforts to save it, Australian official level would probably be willing to “scuttle” GRC but he doubted this would be position of Cabinet. In his personal opinion he rather thought we should go ahead with dual representation effort even in face of GRC non-cooperation.
Prime Minister thought it important try to keep questions of recognition and Chirep entirely separate, even though in average Australian mind they were rather closely linked. Brown said he had heard that some Australians were interpreting President’s statement on China in his report on foreign policy just issued as opening the door very widely to recognition for PRC. Recognition was not even under discussion. PM assured us he had not so interpreted President’s report.
Brown asked whether PM had any views as to who should take lead in mobilizing support for whatever Chirep course we decided on. Perhaps US should not. PM did not answer directly, but thought Japan did not want take lead. Brown said on other hand Japanese were very concerned not to appear to be following in our wake where PRC was concerned. Jenkins said Japanese certainly wanted to be a jump ahead of us on over-all question of rapprochement with Peking, but it was doubtful whether they would want to be out front on Chirep.
Brown said another possibility as a new departure was the concept of universality. Gorton said emphatically that this raised too many problems concerning North Korea, North Vietnam, etc. Brown said nevertheless it had a certain philosophical attraction and if stated in very general terms might have utility in connection with dual representation.
In conclusion PM said official GOA position was that past Chirep policy no longer promising, that new approach needed, that every effort should be made to preserve GRC position so far as possible, and in any event GOA could not vote against GRC interests. Official position went no further as of now. He repeated his interest in hearing results of our talks in Taipei.2
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, UN 6 CHICOM. Secret; Limdis. Repeated to London, Taipei, Tokyo, Wellington, Hong Kong, and USUN.
  2. Department officials later expressed satisfaction with the meetings with senior Australian officials, and mentioned that the latest discussions of NSSM 107 within the Department had accepted that the PRC probably could not be denied the Security Council seat, but might decline to be seated in the General Assembly as long as the ROC was there. (Telegram 35421, March 3; ibid.)