352. Paper Prepared in the Department of State1

CHINESE REPRESENTATION IN THE SECURITY COUNCIL

General Considerations

With few exceptions, the General Assembly rather than the Security Council has been the forum for consideration of Chinese Representation. [Page 679]When the subject was raised in the Council, as it was by Somalia in February of this year, the United States took the position that a matter as important as Chinese Representation is better considered in the General Assembly, in which all 127 members of the UN are represented, than in the 15-member Security Council. In support of our view, we cited a 1950 General Assembly resolution which stated: “In virtue of its composition, the General Assembly is the organ of the United Nations in which consideration can best be given to the view of all Member States in matters affecting the functioning of the Organization as a whole.”

This tactical position, which has been sustained over the years in the Security Council, has an implicit corollary—that if and when the General Assembly decides to change the representation of China, that decision would be reflected in the Security Council. As a matter of practical politics, we must expect in any case that once the General Assembly seats the PRC, the Security Council is likely to do the same.

Theoretically, the Security Council could decide to take up the Chirep problem, independent of or before action in the General Assembly. For example, should the PRC apply for admission as a new member, or should the ROC withdraw from the UN and apply for admission as a new state of Taiwan, the Security Council would consider these applications under the procedures specified in Article 4 of the Charter. Alternatively, the matter could [arise?] as a challenge to the credentials of the ROC Council representative.

It is most unlikely that the Chirep question would be raised as a membership issue by either the PRC or the ROC. The PRC will not apply for admission as a new member since it takes the position that it is the only lawful representative of the member state, China, and has been illegally prevented from taking its rightful seat. The ROC will not leave and re-apply since it insists that it is the only legitimate representative of China and the rightful holder of China’s seat. This hypothetical membership contingency is mentioned for two reasons: (a) Some have assumed the issue could be settled in this way, by admission of the PRC and/or the ROC as a new member—the Dutch, for example, informally suggested double admission last year; (b) It is precisely in connection with a membership question that the use of the veto would most clearly apply, whereas it is very doubtful that the veto could be used as long as the question is one of representation.

[Omitted here are sections entitled “The Veto, and a Possible Credentials Challenge,” “Assurances Given to Chiang Kai-shek,” “The Security Council and the Albanian Resolution,” and “The Security Council and Dual Representation.”]

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Aftermath

It seems inescapable that, one way or another, China’s seat on the Security Council will be offered to the PRC in the wake of an Assembly decision to admit Peking. Passage of the Albanian resolution (a likely result this year if we maintain our present Chirep policy) would bring the PRC into the Council at the earliest date. Passage of a dual representation resolution by the Assembly is unlikely to result in Peking taking the seat in the immediate future, but could lead to a situation in which the ROC representative is expelled from the Council (in order to make possible the offer of the seat to Peking) and the seat remains temporarily vacant. As noted above, there is some chance of persuading the Council to make seating the PRC conditional upon acceptance of the General Assembly resolution.

Likely PRC behavior as a member of the UN, including the Security Council is analyzed in Chapter VII and Annex F of NSSM 107. It will not be discussed here other than to emphasize the probable undesirability of PRC accession to the Council seat this fall when there is some possibility that the Security Council might be dealing with a Middle East peace agreement. We may note, however, that PRC membership on the Council is likely to increase pressures for Charter revision (something which we have generally opposed and to which, according to intelligence reports, Peking is also opposed) to enlarge the Council by the addition of new permanent members (e.g. Japan and/or India, and perhaps the FRG after it becomes a member of the UN), to do away with the permanent member veto, or to add new permanent members without the right of veto. If Charter revision continues to appear inadvisable or unobtainable, one possible but unlikely solution might be agreement in the respective regional caucuses to give states such as Japan, India or Brazil semi-permanent member status through repeated elections to the Council. Finally, should the seat remain empty for any substantial period of time, this might lead to pressures to reassign it to another Asian power (again Japan and India would be the logical contenders), a factor which Peking would also have to take into account.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, UN 6 CHICOM. Secret. An attached letter of transmission from Executive Secretary Eliot to Kissinger, dated May 5, notes that Haig had on May 3 requested this information to supplement material contained in the Response to NSSM 107 ( Document 326; NSSM 107 is Document 312).