359. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in the Republic of China 1

95331. Ambassador McConaughy Eyes Only. Subj: Chirep.

Following based on memcon of Secretary’s discussion of Chirep with Chinese Ambassador Shen, May 28, 1971:2
Secretary said he had asked Ambassador Shen to call in order tell him that US was seriously considering modification in Chirep policy. We trying make best appraisal of how we would come out if we continued present posture as compared to how we would come out if we changed. We would be consulting with number other governments to get their judgment on this question.
Secretary stated that our present judgment and, we believe, a generally-held assessment, is that present formula will lose this fall, no matter how hard we work for it. Ambassador Shen asked whether this was change in policy or tactics. ROC’s opposition to admission Communist China unchanged. ROC did not see how question which had been important for 10 years could suddenly cease be important. If we believed that IQ formula would not work, however, his government would not stand in way of its friends trying something else. He asked whether US was serious in wanting Communist China in UN or whether this just window dressing.
Secretary said we facing practical situation. We could stick to present formula and fail. Shen interjected that ROC will not insist on this. Secretary continued that we would seriously consider sticking with old formula if our assessment that it would fail was wrong. Ambassador Brown said that ROC officials in Taipei had agreed in March with our assessment that IQ would fail by 4 or 5 votes, and we believed that this margin was increasing. Shen nodded.
Shen said that President Chiang had indicated to him that if it felt that IQ would fail, ROC would not stand in way of new proposal [Page 702]which kept essence of IQ; for example, under new formula Communist China might be admitted by majority vote, but two-thirds vote would be required to expel ROC.
Secretary said we would like not just ROC acquiescence in new formula but encouragement. We did not want people, either in Taipei or elsewhere, to feel that we letting ROC down. He stated that President Nixon might be willing go down fighting under old formula, if that was what President Chiang wanted. Shen again interjected that this was not ROC position. Shen said that it would be too difficult for ROC to give impression it would accept any kind of “two-China” formula. They would have to vote against any proposal for admitting Communist China. Secretary said he understood.
Secretary said we considering formula which, in single resolution, would invite Peking into UN and would state that two-thirds vote would be required to expel ROC. We would not propose such a resolution but would support it. Secretary said there no way to assure that ROC would retain SC seat, but we would try develop plan which would give best chance to doing so. Original resolution which we contemplated would not mention SC. However, amendment from floor alloting seat to Peking would be almost certain and would probably prevail. We would oppose such amendment on ground that this not matter for Assembly and that Assembly action would not be binding on SC. If such dual representation resolution passed, Peking would probably not accept so long as ROC remained in UN. If Peking refused, we would argue that question of SC seat did not arise.
Shen said that ROC considered that its seat in Assembly and in Security Council are inseparable. Their present assessment is that Peking would not enter while ROC still in, but there still chance that if Peking felt that SC seat would be available they might surprise us. ROC would like maximum effort by US on their behalf with respect to SC seat.
Secretary said we could not give ROC any guarantees but will help as much as can. We hoped for ROC’s understanding, even if we could not have full agreement, and hoped Government of Republic of China would say that US doing best it could. He reminded Shen that easiest thing for US would be simply to stick with its present position and go down with it. Secretary said that proposal which he had described had no relation whatsoever with ping-pong diplomacy. It would have been made whether or not ping-pong team episode had occurred.
Secretary summed up US position as follows: US has not reached any final decision but its present thinking is a) we will be defeated this fall if we do not change our policy; b) a dual representation formula of kind he had described would probably succeed in holding [Page 703]Assembly membership for ROC; c) Peking would probably not come in so long as ROC remained; d) we will do our best to help on SC seat but cannot give any assurances of success. We would inform the Republic of China of the results of consultations with other governments and would, of course, work with them on drafts of possible resolutions and so forth.
Finally Secretary repeated that US at present would give very serious thought to continuing with present formula, if President Chiang really wanted us to do so. We feel, however, that such course would be disaster.
Ambassador Brown said that what Secretary had outlined to Shen is being very closely held and Shen is first person to whom we have communicated it. We hoped that ROC would confine this information to its own senior circle, since we would, of course, want GOJ and other countries to hear about our thinking first from Secretary himself. Shen said he fully understood.3
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 521, Country Files, Far East, China, Vol. VII. Secret; Nodis. Drafted and approved by Brown and cleared by Johnson. Repeated to USUN.
  2. Following the meeting among Rogers, Kissinger, and Nixon on May 27 (see Document 358), Rogers forwarded a memorandum to the President outlining what he would say to Shen, as well as diplomats from Western Europe and Australia. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 521, Country Files, Far East, China, Vol. VII) Marshall Wright forwarded Rogers’ memorandum to Kissinger, adding in a covering memorandum that he saw a “very serious flaw in it. That is the intention publicly to announce the plan at so early a time.” He suggested that the administration do the “diplomatic spadework” before making any public statements. (Ibid.)
  3. When Rogers discussed this conversation with Nixon on May 28, the President emphasized that Rogers should not announce any policy change regarding Chinese representation in the UN until after July 4. He added that Rogers should make public the dual recognition strategy in a Senate hearing. (Ibid., White House Tapes, May 28, 1971, 2:50–3:07 p.m., White House Telephone, Conversation No. 3–178)