356. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon 1


  • Chinese Representation in the UN

Ambassador Robert Murphy, at your request, raised with Chiang Kai-shek our concern over the diminishing prospects for success in the General Assembly meeting this fall of our past policy aimed at exclusion of Communist China from the UN and retention of Taipei’s seat. Chiang understood fully the likelihood of failure of this course. He agreed to go along with a dual representation strategy but only on the condition that we protect his Security Council seat. Murphy agreed to this condition and Chiang unquestionably considers it a commitment.2

We cannot guarantee Chiang’s Security Council seat. The issue will be decided by the Security Council itself. We cannot use the veto because the issue will be procedural; and we do not have the votes in the Security Council to prevent Taipei’s expulsion in favor of the PRC—eight Security Council members recognize Peking and two others say the PRC should have the seat.

We have two choices:

  • —Go ahead with a dual representation strategy recognizing that we cannot protect Taipei’s Security Council seat, or
  • —Continue with our traditional strategy aimed at exclusion of Peking, recognizing that we will be defeated either this year or next.

If we take the first course, and if Chiang acquiesces, we could reasonably expect to retain Taipei’s seat in the General Assembly. Peking would be irritated initially because her maximum goals—the expulsion [Page 687]of Taiwan and recognition of the PRC claim to represent all of China—would have been thwarted. It is likely that Peking would not enter on these terms, at least for a while. Thus, for the present, Taiwan would retain its seat in both the Assembly and the Security Council. However, it is most probable that Chiang will not agree to concede the Security Council seat, and therefore, a dual representation strategy is not viable. Our efforts to maintain the Security Council seat for Taipei would simply convince many UN members that the whole strategy was a mere gimmick to perpetuate Peking’s exclusion. A UN majority will not accept this.

If we pursue our traditional strategy we certainly will be defeated within a year or two. We will take a good deal of heat over this defeat. The fact, however, that we would have stood steadfastly by Chiang will be in our favor. The effect on our relations with Peking will be two-fold. First, she will not be surprised at our continuing to resist her entry and she will in fact gain her objectives. So our present moves toward more normal relations will not be complicated by her resentment of our policy. But secondly, she will feel herself to have inflicted a defeat on us, and our relationship with her will to some extent be adversely affected by this psychological fact.

I believe that, in the likely event Chiang holds to his view on the Security Council seat, our best course will be to stick with our traditional policy of trying to keep Peking out. It would avoid the appearance of a betrayal of an old ally and it would not seriously affect our policy of moving toward more normal relations with Peking.

Before you decide, however, I believe we must go back to Chiang to make clear to him that there is no way we can guarantee his Security Council seat.

  • —We have told Chiang we are convinced that the present strategy will be defeated this year or next. And Chiang himself may feel that he has taken a monumental step in acquiescing—however unenthusiastically—to dual representation. If we were simply to inform him—without consultations—that we have decided to adhere to our traditional strategy, he might well falsely interpret this decision in the context of steps we have taken to ease tensions with Peking. He might conclude, in short, that we have chosen this route to sell him out.
  • —A second reason for consulting again with Chiang, is to take account of the possibility, admittedly very slim, that he might drop his condition that we protect his Security Council seat. If he did, the dual representation strategy would be a realistic course.

We should put the issue squarely before Chiang once again. In the unlikely event he would prefer that we go along on the dual representation formula in these circumstances, we can do so. Otherwise he will know clearly the reasons we did not.

I recommend, therefore, that we go back to Chiang and tell him that we cannot guarantee his Security Council seat and that therefore if he [Page 688]maintains his position on this question we are prepared to pursue our present policy seeking to exclude Peking, with the full realization that we probably will be defeated this year or next.3

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 521, Country Files, Far East, China, Vol. VII. Top Secret. Sent for action. This memorandum is stamped “The President has seen.” According to a May 19 covering memorandum, it was prepared by Kennedy and Levine of the NSC staff.
  2. See Documents 349 and 354.
  3. The President did not initial either the approve or disapprove options, but did write “K: Follow up on basis of our meeting today (5/27/71).” See Document 358.