335. Minutes of the Senior Review Group Meeting1


  • UN Representation—NSSM 1072
[Page 615]


  • Chairman—Henry A. Kissinger
  • State
    • Under Secretary John N. Irwin
    • Mr. U. Alexis Johnson
    • Mr. Marshall Green
    • Mr. John Armitage
    • Mr. Michael Armacost
  • Defense
    • Mr. Armistead I. Selden
    • Col. Paul Murray
    • Mr. Dennis Doolin
  • CIA
    • Mr. Richard Helms
    • [name not declassified]
  • JCS
    • Maj. Gen. Richard Shaefer
    • Col. Kenneth McFadden
    • Col. Kemper Baker
  • ACDA
    • Mr. Philip J. Farley
  • USIA
    • Mr. Frank Shakespeare
  • Treasury
    • Mr. John R. Petty
  • NSC Staff
    • Col. Richard T. Kennedy
    • Mr. W. Marshall Wright
    • Mr. John H. Holdridge
    • Mr. D. Keith Guthrie


The Senior Review Group agreed that:

The President should be asked to authorize the Department of State to consult with allied and friendly countries on alternatives to the Important Question-Albanian Resolution formula for dealing with the Chinese representation issue in the UN.
In the course of these consultations the United States would seek to determine what formula maintaining the GRC seat would be most likely to gain and hold approval in the General Assembly, and would include dual representation among the alternatives.
The Department of State should review again the desirability of relating the Important Question to a dual representation formula. The desirability of applying the principle of universality to the dual representation formula should also be reviewed.
Following the consultations and the review by the Department of State of the points in 3, above, recommendations on a Chinese representation strategy to be followed in the UN will be submitted to the President.
An NSC meeting to discuss the points mentioned above will be scheduled if desired by the Secretary of State.

Dr. Kissinger: Shall we take the UN issue first? The key issue is what to do about Chinese representation at the next UN General Assembly. The issue has some urgency, partly because of the problem with the British, who are anxious to change their position.

[Page 616]

(to Irwin) I assume you have the cable from Ambassador Bush.3

Mr. Irwin: Yes, he telephoned and asked me to explain that he couldn’t come down to Washington today but that he wanted to keep in close touch on this issue and to be helpful in any way possible.

Mr. Kissinger: Why not automatically invite him whenever State is represented at one of these meetings?

Mr. Irwin: I have told him that we would.

Dr. Kissinger: On the Chinese representation issue one has a choice between sticking with the present policy or adopting a new one. If we opt for a new policy, we have to assume that it will involve some formula that will permit Communist China into the UN. The question is which formula we should choose. Also we need to consider the degree to which we need to push the issue.

Mr. Irwin: From our point of view there is some urgency. There is the possibility that the British will go ahead without us; and the longer we wait to decide, the more we will find that countries have taken positions that preclude cooperation with us.

Dr. Kissinger: Does anyone believe we should stick with our present policy?

Mr. Selden: I presume State knows how the vote is shaping up.

Mr. Irwin: We don’t have any figures except on what the vote was the last time the issue came up.

Mr. Armitage: At that time there was a fourteen-vote majority in favor of considering the Albanian Resolution an important question. A slippage of eight votes would mean defeat.

Mr. Green: Several countries told us that this was the last time they would vote with us.

Mr. Armitage: The voting line-up on the important question applies only to the Albanian Resolution.

Mr. Wright: A headcount was done by IO in State. The results are very iffy, but they indicate that if we stick with the present formula, we would lose by two votes this fall. Of course, the outcome depends to some extent on how much muscle we put into our campaign for support.

Mr. Green: If the important question is married with dual representation, the important question resolution will almost certainly pass, and dual representation will also probably pass.

Mr. Armitage: There will probably only be a majority for dual representation.

Dr. Kissinger: Does that mean that the important question could pass, but that dual representation would fail?

[Page 617]

Mr. Armitage: Yes.

Dr. Kissinger: What if the important question were coupled with the Albanian Resolution?

Mr. Armitage: It [the important question]4 might squeak by, and it might not.

Dr. Kissinger: If you put it that way, we have no choice.

Gen. Shaefer: If the important question squeaks by, the main resolution would lose or lack of a two-thirds vote.

Dr. Kissinger: As I understand it, if the important question does not pass, the Albanian Resolution will pass. If we couple dual representation and the important question, the important question will pass, but dual representation will not get a two-thirds majority. The status quo would continue.

Mr. Armitage: Yes.

Dr. Kissinger: That is complicated enough for a Chinese to understand.

Mr. Irwin: Then there is the question of introducing a resolution on universality.

Dr. Kissinger: Let me see if I understand the thinking behind this. People are so annoyed by our sticking to our old policy that they will vote against the important question.

Mr. Doolin: Some of the states that are voting for admission of Communist China say that they do not mean to exclude the Republic of China.

Mr. Armitage: They want a less bald attempt to keep Communist China out of the UN.

Dr. Kissinger: Are they prepared to consider an important question resolution?

Mr. Irwin: What he [Jack Armitage] is referring to is a proposal based on universality rather than dual representation. Dual representation would get a majority but not two-thirds. If that happens, the Albanian Resolution will succeed.

(Mr. Farley and Mr. Petty joined the meeting at this point.)

Dr. Kissinger: I am just trying to understand the thought processes of these countries.

Mr. Armitage: Because the Albanian Resolution now has a majority, coupling it with the important question makes the latter seem like nothing more than a method of keeping Communist China out. If the substantive proposal were for dual representation, this would not be so.

[Page 618]

Dr. Kissinger: The UN is not my subject, but isn’t somebody interested in the substance of the dual representation proposal or the Albanian Resolution? Is the big issue only whether it is coupled with an affirmative vote on the important question?

Mr. Irwin: If both [the dual representation and Albanian] resolutions were introduced, whichever was voted on first would in effect decide the fate of the second.

Dr. Kissinger: Then the mere fact that a proposal for dual representation is introduced will make it more probable that the important question issue will be raised.

Mr. Irwin: You could have both a resolution on dual representation and the Albanian Resolution. Whichever was decided first would decide the other. It would help to have the added protection of a vote that Chinese representation constituted an important question, but it really won’t be needed as much as in the past.

Dr. Kissinger: Since one of our important concerns is the GRC, wouldn’t it help to be able to assure them that dual representation is the way for them to stay in the UN, whereas without it they will be expelled?

(Dr. Kissinger left the meeting at this point.)

Mr. Irwin: This argues for universality. I agree that with dual representation alone [i.e., without universality]Communist China would prevail in a relatively short time. They may prevail even with universality, but with the UN on record in favor of universality, it would be harder to move against the GRC. Overall, I think we would be better to go with universality.

Mr. Wright: There is another problem related to the tie-in between dual representation and the important question. If circumstances are such that the important question would pass but dual representation would not get a two-thirds vote, then any proposal coupling dual representation and the important question would be clearly identified as a gimmick to keep Communist China out of the UN. This will sap support for the important question or dual representation or both. I am not sure we will get a majority on the important question if we are clearly after the status quo.5

[Page 619]

Mr. Armitage: It is possible that such a situation might develop over time. But that will not happen next year.

Mr. Johnson: Is it given that we would couple the important question with dual representation?

Mr. Green: Yes, in order to get the GRC aboard. We need to be able to commend the course of action to them on the grounds that it will lead to a stalemate.

Mr. Johnson: Dual representation will result in a stalemate.

Mr. Green: If only a simple majority were required, dual representation would carry the day, but it is offensive to both Chinas.

Mr. Johnson: If dual representation receives a majority and Taiwan stays in, then the Communist Chinese would stay out.

Mr. Green: Dual representation might hold this year but not two years from now. If we maintain the consistency of treating the matter as an important question, it will help us buy time. I think Communist China will ultimately get into the UN. I think that dual representation is likely to command the most support in this country. At least it will let us off the hook.

Mr. Doolin: At the ANZUS meeting, there was concern that however the representation problem is resolved, Taiwan should not be forced formally to withdraw from the organization.

Mr. Green: Yes. Once they are out, they are out.

Mr. Johnson: I agree. Not even under universality would they be able to get back in.

Mr. Green: I agree. Dual representation may be suspect as a gimmick but universality has a broad appeal.

Mr. Johnson: Universality involves questions of timing. There is the problem of the Korean elections.

Mr. Green: The elections are scheduled for May 1.

Mr. Wright: If dual representation is not coupled to the important question, everyone goes out being able to get a majority over a period of time although we might be able to hold a majority together next year.

Mr. Armitage: Erosion will set in.

Mr. Green: Erosion is going to set in right away. A nose count now will not show what the line-up will be in September.

Mr. Wright: If there is no hope of maintaining a simple majority for dual representation, we don’t have a Chinaman’s chance of holding to a position based on the important question. The net effect would be that the GRC would be out.

Mr. Johnson: That is the thought that was going through my mind.

[Page 620]

Mr. Holdridge: We may lose a lot of votes on the important question from people who really want a solution to the problem. Coupling the important question to dual representation does suggest a gimmick.

Mr. Wright: The way we are talking about it now, it is a gimmick.

Mr. Green: We want both regimes in. That should be the basis for our actions. That is our policy; it is what we want. There are other countries that feel the same way.

Mr. Johnson: Then why make achievement of dual representation as hard as possible by tying it to the important question?

Mr. Armitage: There is no foreseeable way we can get both regimes into the UN.

Mr. Green: The important question will pass this year but perhaps not next year. We are in a transition period. Once we have gone the important question route, we can hardly drop it.

Mr. Doolin: Our previous support of the important question was in terms of the Albanian Resolution.

Mr. Green: Is there really any distinction?

Mr. Irwin: How is the important question worded now?

Mr. Armitage: It says: “Any proposal to change the representation of China is an important question.”

Mr. Irwin: Is there any precedent for a change of position on what constitutes an important question?

(Dr. Kissinger rejoined the meeting.)

Mr. Green: It is hard to fix a position until we finish the consultation process.

Dr. Kissinger: Is there merit in coupling the important question with either formula?

Mr. Johnson: That is what we were just discussing.

Mr. Irwin: One problem is that the important question would be considered just a gimmick to keep Communist China out of the UN.

Mr. Johnson: The intellectual problem that I have is that if we think both should be in, why should we make it hard to do?

Dr. Kissinger: Because the issue of who belongs to the organization is always an important question even if it slows down getting what we want.

Mr. Irwin: China is the only case that has been considered an important question.

Mr. Johnson: I wonder how we rationalize using the important question.

Mr. Green: The GRC feels that the important question is significant and wants to continue using it. To get the GRC aboard, we have to assure them that we will back application of the important question [Page 621] rule. Once we get a favorable vote on the important question, there would be a better chance of having the GRC continue in the UN without the PRC. Next year we may not be able to get a majority to support considering the China representation issue an important question, but we can roll with the punches. This is the first step in a transition.

Dr. Kissinger: Are there any other views? Dick [Helms]?

Mr. Helms: I have no particular views. However, I do have one question. If we continue to fight against the Albanian Resolution but finally lose, what do we calculate the actual loss in prestige for us will be? Would getting overruled and having the GRC tossed out give us such a black eye internationally?

Mr. Irwin: It would give us a black eye, but I don’t know how much damage it would really do. Our stubbornness would be unpopular with the doves and generally. You could argue that we would make points by staunchly standing by our ally. I think it is an arguable question.

Mr. Johnson: If the GRC is expelled, the GRC is in fact being declared a non-state. This would enormously complicate our problem of maintaining the integrity of the GRC. It would become an international outcast.

Dr. Kissinger: Are you sure that dual representation would win the day over the Albanian Resolution if the important question rule were not applied?

Mr. Irwin: A considerable number of people think it would prevail over the Albanian Resolution.

Mr. Armitage: This year.

Mr. Irwin: I have some doubt about this.

Dr. Kissinger: It would be a tremendous change in our position if we were to give up the important question and throw the issue into the General Assembly in such a way that it could result in the expulsion of the GRC.

Mr. Selden: We would lose on both counts.

Mr. Green: It would make our relations with the GRC more complicated.

Mr. Irwin: Perhaps I overemphasize universality, but if we advocate both universality and dual representation, I think we can get our way without using the important question rule.

Dr. Kissinger: Do you mean that if we propose universality, we don’t need the important question?

Mr. Irwin: The universality proposal would be a general resolution. The idea would be to implement it only in the case of the two Chinas. We would try to avoid implementing it now with respect to other countries.

Dr. Kissinger: What do we gain by this?

[Page 622]

Mr. Irwin: Endorsement of the concept of universality and its application to China. We would retain the possibility of a Security Council veto on the other membership questions.

Mr. Johnson: All that we gain is that we would be standing on principle.

Mr. Selden: I think Dick Helms made a good point. We ought to consider how much we would lose if we go down fighting.

Mr. Green: One thing we gain is more understanding among the American people for our foreign policy. People will not be able to say that we stood blindly by Chiang Kai-shek. On the other hand, if the GRC is ejected, this will affect attitudes in this country toward the UN.

Mr. Selden: You will have Communist China on the Security Council.

Mr. Johnson: With dual representation the Communist Chinese don’t go on the Security Council.

Mr. Green: Our recommendation would be that the GRC continue to occupy the Security Council seat until such time as the PRC is in.

Mr. Selden: That is a difficult point to argue with the American public. People in my area of the country want to leave the GRC in and keep the PRC out.

Mr. Green: That is not going to happen. Actually, on the basis of conferences we have had around the country, we find that most people favor dual representation.

Dr. Kissinger: (to Irwin) You favor universality as a means of assuring more votes for dual representation and the important question.

Mr. Irwin: Universality would make it appear a matter of principle rather than just a question of deciding between the two Chinas.

Dr. Kissinger: Of course, if we stick with the important question, we won’t need universality.

Mr. Green: It would be advantageous for us to be identified with the majority view.

Dr. Kissinger: I take it that the majority view favors admission of any organized government. Does this apply to Rhodesia?

Mr. Green: Rhodesia is not in my area of responsibility. In any case, a resolution would state universality as a general principle.

Dr. Kissinger: Where else would universality apply?

Mr. Doolin: Germany, Korea, Vietnam.

Dr. Kissinger: There is no problem with Germany. The FRG has already agreed not to oppose East German entry into the UN.

Mr. Irwin: There would be a problem if East Germany came in before the two Germanies had reached an agreement.

Dr. Kissinger: How would you deal with that problem?

[Page 623]

Mr. Irwin: We would just say that we are agreeable to having East Germany join but that the two Germanies must first reach agreement.

Dr. Kissinger: What if the President decides on a two-China policy but without universality?

Mr. Irwin: Such a course would be more apt to be considered a gimmick to prevent PRC entry. That is almost exactly what [British Ambassador] Cromer told me last week. He said: “We just can’t support pure dual representation”.

Dr. Kissinger: What are the British planning to do?

Mr. Irwin: They would vote against the important question and for the Albanian Resolution.

Mr. Armitage: We could probably pick up some votes with dual representation.

Dr. Kissinger: I think that those countries that want to make points with Communist China will not vote for any resolution that would impede Communist China’s entry. I have the impression that the British are looking primarily to improving their relations with the Communist Chinese.

Mr. Doolin: They would prefer to have the GRC in.

Dr. Kissinger: But they will not do anything to keep the GRC in. The ideal solution for them would be for the important question to pass; then a vote in favor of dual representation would not count.

Mr. Doolin: The appeal of universality is that it is like motherhood. It is hard for anyone to be against it.

Dr. Kissinger: If the British are voting on the basis of their domestic opinion, then universality will serve their purposes. But if they are voting to appease Communist China, they want to support effective action. I think they want to improve relations with Communist China even if it means expelling the GRC.

Mr. Green: That’s right. Also they see Chou En-lai’s talks with Bensen as a serious Chinese initiative for improving relations.

Dr. Kissinger: Then they are not likely to vote for dual representation under the guise of universality.

Mr. Irwin: It will require high level pressure—probably by the President—to get them to go along. It is clear they oppose dual representation alone; there may be some chance they would support universality.

Dr. Kissinger: How about the one-China-two-delegations proposal on the Soviet model?

Mr. Irwin: They would not go along with that.

Mr. Armitage: There are some lukewarm friends of the Communist Chinese who might come on board with universality.

Dr. Kissinger: Who?

[Page 624]

Mr. Armitage: Some of the African states.

Dr. Kissinger: They would go along with dual representation coupled with universality but not with dual representation alone? That is hard to understand.

Mr. Armitage: There is great sentiment for universality.

Dr. Kissinger: Whom does it benefit? The Koreans, Vietnamese, and Germans don’t want it.

Mr. Armitage: Almost everybody else does.

Mr. Green: It has a broad, universal appeal. Many see it as a way of facilitating the settlement of world problems by having every political entity recognized in some sort of world forum. As Dennis Doolin says, it is like motherhood.

Dr. Kissinger: Do you know such sentiment exists or only think so?

Mr. Green: We know, based on discussions we have had. We need to advance some philosophy for what we want to do.

Dr. Kissinger: Does it make any difference what dual representation formula is proposed?

Mr. Irwin: We take the fuzzy one.

Dr. Kissinger: Don’t do anything uncharacteristic. Which is the fuzzy one?

Mr. Green: The one that merely says there will be two delegations.

Mr. Irwin: It says that the question of who rules China is one for the two governments to work out. There is a certain logic to this approach.

Dr. Kissinger: But who agrees with us on this?

Mr. Irwin: I don’t know.

Dr. Kissinger: Is such a formula, which would not say that there are one or two Chinas, really an answer to our problem? Would it guarantee that the PRC does not come in?

Mr. Irwin: If we adopt either of those other two formulas [one China or two Chinas], we find that there are definite objections.

Dr. Kissinger: One possibility would be a one-China-one-Taiwan formula. Do you object to that?

Mr. Green: It would make both sides angry.

Dr. Kissinger: What about one-China-two-states?

Mr. Green: The point is that on these different formulas we would like to talk to other governments before making a decision.

Mr. Johnson: A one-China-two-states policy would imply that Taiwan is part of China.

Mr. Green: Yes, both regimes can claim to be the government of China.

[Page 625]

Dr. Kissinger: How does that differ from the two-China formula?

Mr. Green: Just in the language. It is important to keep the idea of one China. Sato, for example, lays great stress on that.

Dr. Kissinger: Let me tell you his name is a dirty word around here. We had such an explosion around here this morning [on textiles] that I thought the pictures would be blown off the wall.

As a technical formula, why would one-China-two-states not be like one-Soviet-Union-three states?

Mr. Armitage: The precedent doesn’t apply. The three Soviet “states” were original members.

Dr. Kissinger: How do you want the President to decide this? The first question is whether we stick with the existing policy or go to some modified policy that permits seating the PRC without having the GRC expelled.

Mr. Johnson: You should add that the present policy may well result in the seating of the PRC.

Dr. Kissinger: And also that whatever we decide, the Albanian Resolution might pass.

The second point is that assuming we decide in favor of seating Communist China, what course of action would best achieve our objective of preserving the seat of the Republic of China. Should we link our proposal to the important question? Should we link it to universality? What dual representation formula do we prefer? Your [the State Department] view is that it doesn’t make any difference what formula we choose; we should take the one that has the widest support.

Mr. Johnson: We have to consult with other countries on this.

Dr. Kissinger: My judgment is that the President would react very badly if the end result of this exercise is the passage of the Albanian Resolution, the seating of Communist China, and the expulsion of Taiwan.

Mr. Doolin: That is going to happen if we don’t change our policy.

Dr. Kissinger: You can’t prove that unless we stick with our present policy.

Do you believe that dual representation coupled with universality offers the best chance to defeat the Albanian Resolution?

Mr. Green: Yes.

Dr. Kissinger: Should our proposal be linked to the important question?

Mr. Green: Yes.

Mr. Wright: No, that would make it appear to be a gimmick.

Dr. Kissinger: (to Armitage) According to you, if the important [Page 626] question is linked to the Albanian Resolution, the Albanian Resolution will pass.

Everything depends on the assessment that the Albanian Resolution is less acceptable than universality. As I understand it, there is an incentive to pass the important question if dual representation is on the table. The countries that do not want to antagonize Communist China can avoid doing so by voting against the important question.

Mr. Irwin: Except that as Marshall Green said, bringing in both universality and dual representation would provide a positive philosophic concept to support. To some degree, universality would thus take the place of the important question. Universality provides a better philosophic basis than the important question.

Dr. Kissinger: (to Green) As I understand it, the only way dual representation has a chance of winning acceptance by the GRC is for it to be linked to the important question.

Mr. Green: That is generally right. It would provide a way to sell dual representation to the GRC.

Dr. Kissinger: I am pretty much persuaded that if the President decides to try dual representation, we should pick the formula that has the best chance of getting votes. Otherwise, we will be opening the way for the Albanian Resolution.

Mr. Green: We can’t determine what the best formula would be without consulting. We need time to advance the concept of dual representation. We should not continue saying that we have no position. This connotes irresolution and weakens our hand. We need a Green light to take soundings on dual representation.

Dr. Kissinger: Do we need an NSC meeting or should we just send a memorandum to the President?

Mr. Irwin: The Secretary [of State] is thinking in terms of an NSC discussion.

Mr. Green: I thought that he considered it would be difficult to make a final decision without more consultation.

Dr. Kissinger: My view is that whenever a cabinet member wants an NSC meeting, we arrange one if the President’s schedule permits.

However, I have seen no division of opinion here.

Mr. Johnson: We ought to say to the President that we are reasonably certain the new position will prevail.

Mr. Armitage: We can’t be sure on that until we talk with some of the other countries.

Mr. Green: We can say to the press that we are not taking a position until we have taken soundings with other UN members.

Dr. Kissinger: What you need is a Presidential decision that we are willing to abandon the position that we have upheld up to now and [Page 627] that we are willing to consult with other countries on the possibility of adopting dual representation as a solution.

Mr. Green: That’s right.

Dr. Kissinger: Do we need a decision on the important question?

Mr. Johnson: That can wait until after our consultations.

Dr. Kissinger: My own feeling is that we do not need an NSC meeting. Why don’t we leave it that we will try to get an answer from the President but that if the Secretary wants an NSC meeting, we will schedule one.

Mr. Johnson: It would be best to have an NSC meeting after we consult other countries.

Mr. Green: We have a problem with the British. The important question resolution is crucial to them. They want to vote against it.

Dr. Kissinger: Alex’s [Johnson’s] argument on how we make the point that universality is an important question is a little odd.

Mr. Johnson: I think that the important question issue is significant.

Dr. Kissinger: It will be easier to get the President’s approval if we show some sensitivity toward Chiang Kai-shek.

Mr. Green: We don’t want to have Chiang leave the UN in a huff. Next summer we will have a better idea of the ins and outs of this whole issue.

Mr. Armitage: Don’t we have to tell the British something about the important question issue the next time we meet with them?

Dr. Kissinger: When do we have to give them an answer?

Mr. Irwin: There is no specific deadline. It depends on their anxiety over Communist China. Things have been moving faster since Chou En-lai talked to Bensen.

Mr. Johnson: I don’t understand it. Chou En-lai has one conversation with Bensen, and the British fall all over themselves.

Mr. Irwin: I don’t know how far up in the British Government the enthusiasm extends.

Dr. Kissinger: I think Heath believes he can proceed by issuing ultimata.

Mr. Doolin: The British have always been impressed by the potential Chinese market.

Mr. Irwin: A timing problem involves the Korean elections. The consultations should not be public before them.

Dr. Kissinger: When are the elections?

Mr. Green: In May.

Dr. Kissinger: You would not raise it before the elections?

[Page 628]

Mr. Green: Yes we would. Park would be so anxious that we not mention it publicly before the elections that he might be much more cooperative.

Dr. Kissinger: We will defer the other paper [the NSSM 106 study on China] until later next week.6

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H–Files), Box H–112, SRG Minutes, Originals. Secret; Nodis. The meeting was held in the White House Situation Room. Jeanne Davis of the NSC staff forwarded the minutes to Kissinger under cover of a March 11 memorandum. (Ibid.) Green summarized these minutes in a memorandum to Rogers, March 11. (Ibid., RG 59, S/S Files: Lot 80 D 212, National Security Files, NSSM 107) Another record of the meeting, prepared by Armacost is ibid. A note on the minutes indicates that Farley and Petty were not present at the beginning of the meeting.
  2. Document 312.
  3. Not found.
  4. All brackets from this point are in the source text.
  5. Additional information on the various formulas for dual representation in the United Nations is in memoranda from Marshall Wright of the NSC staff to Kissinger, March 3 and 9. (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box CL 304, NSC Files, Senior Review Group, February–March 1971)
  6. The minutes of the March 12 Senior Review Group meeting are printed in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XVII, China, 1969–1972.