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

134611. Subject: Chirep: Secretary Conversation with Shen, July 23, 1971. Ref: A. State 130330,2 B. Taipei 3627.3

GRC Ambassador Shen, on instructions, called on Secretary July 23. Assistant Secretary DePalma also present. Discussion lasted approximately one hour.
Shen opened by stating that he was “not exactly bringing answer you have been waiting for.” Instead, he instructed to convey certain GRC views and to remind us of “certain things.” He also remarked that this matter being given closest attention by President Chiang, Premier Yen and FonMin Chou.
Shen stated that he first wished to remind Secretary that it was USG which first raised DR approach through discussion which President Nixon’s personal envoy, Mr. Murphy, had with President Chiang on April 23. At that time, Murphy had assured Chiang that USG had no intention to permit Communist China have Security Council seat under DR formula. When Secretary had discussed this problem with Shen on May 28, Secretary reiterated that USG would do its utmost to keep SC seat for GRC and that neither President nor Secretary would do anything at expense of an ally. Shen recalled that on July 1, he also had met with Mr. Kissinger who had indicated belief that we could get by this year by acting along lines Murphy had indicated to President Chiang.4 Shen indicated that it was his impression that, as of that time, it remained our intention to block attempt to amend DR to award SC to Chinese Communists by relying on parliamentary procedures and on argument that this is matter for SC decision. All these discussions, Shen pointed out, transpired before announcement of President’s intention to visit Peking.
Shen stated that President Chiang and Premier Yen had noted assurance of President Nixon that whatever is done to improve relations with mainland China, it would not be at expense of old friends. GRC position has been made quite clear; and it continues to feel [Page 743]strongly that membership in UN and position on SC are inseparable. If anything happens to GRC seat on SC, it will be placed in most difficult position, externally and internally, “as much as GRC would like to cooperate in retaining UN membership.” GRC therefore wishes to determine whether USG sees any possibility of avoiding mention of SC in DR formula which it has been working on. Is there any way in which USG could proceed along lines of earlier decision indicated to President Chiang by Murphy? Shen stated that, “In a way, this will be looked on as test case of your repeated assurance that you will not do anything at expense of old friend.” His government wished to know, therefore, whether USG would seriously consider assisting GRC by leaving reference to SC question out of DR formula.
Secretary stated that he had just received report of Ambassador McConaughy’s conversation with Vice Premier Chiang (Ref B) and wished to clear up apparent misunderstanding. He, of course, had not stated to Shen during their July 19 conversation that USG would only discuss Chirep issue further if GRC tacitly agreed that it would acquiesce in loss of SC seat (Ref B, para 5). On contrary, he quite willing to discuss this question as much as GRC believes necessary. Shen, who had not yet been informed by Taipei of CCK meeting with McConaughy, stated that he had certainly not reported any such statement by Secretary.
Secretary then stated he appreciates that this is difficult period for GRC and fully understands reasons GRC attaches such importance to SC. It is true that we first proposed DR approach, and we had done so because we felt sure that past policy would no longer succeed. Given that fact, we had been searching for some other way to protect GRC membership as a practical, not theoretical, matter. In this search, it has been necessary to determine views of other countries since, even if we make strong effort—and last year we had made our strongest drive on Chirep—we can affect only a few votes in UNGA. It also true that Murphy had assured President Chiang that we would do our utmost to block amendment of DR to include reference to SC. However, it has become clear that cold, hard facts are that we do not have fighting chance to protect UN membership of GRC unless PRC is offered SC seat.
Secretary emphasized that this not matter of discretion or of USG willingness to follow through on previous decisions. Secretary reminded Shen that Murphy had told Chiang we prepared to follow through as we had done in previous years, making effort to hold line on traditional IQ and opposition to AR. He said we still prepared follow that course if GRC wishes, although we certain it would fail. Shen interjected forcefully, “That not what we want. We respect your judgment and have an interest in following DR approach.”
Secretary stated it had been our hope that we could persuade our friends to go along with resolution which would have admitted PRC by majority vote but require two-thirds to expel GRC, leaving SC question in abeyance on grounds that this matter for SC to decide. He had discussed this approach with number of European governments during NATO meeting. It clear, however, that we cannot obtain sufficient votes to carry such resolution. Number of NATO members told him they could not support such resolution since it device to keep PRC out of UN. These governments stated that since there no doubt PRC would refuse membership on that basis, a vote for such resolution would be vote to exclude PRC, contrary to their view and that of number of other governments.
Secretary stated that when he had asked what would be position if PRC was given SC seat and USG made strong effort to retain UN membership for GRC, some governments, such as UK and Canada, indicated that they could not support even such resolution, but others had indicated they would support it. We not sure what actual vote would be, but our latest educated guess is that such resolution might carry by at least few votes. Secretary cautioned that this only an estimate and he would not wish to be held to it.
As practical matter, therefore, we face situation where we see no chance to preserve GRC membership in UN unless there is understanding that PRC will get SC seat. As he had stated to Shen during their previous conversation, we do not expect GRC could say publicly that it willing to accept such approach, but if we going to be able to put up successful fight, there has to be an understanding on this point. Secretary pointed out that other governments have reached same conclusion, including Australia. He stated that if GRC assessment of voting prospects differs we would wish know it, but if GRC agrees with our assessment and is willing to remain in UN on basis he had outlined, then we prepared put up strongest possible fight to preserve its membership. Secretary asked whether Shen had discussed Chirep problem with any of his diplomatic colleagues. Shen stated he had discussed with Australian Ambassador Plimsoll whose assessment was same as USG.
Secretary reiterated that this is question of hard reality and not one in which we have a free choice. On that point, we have made clear we will continue our security treaty commitment and maintain warm relations we have had in past.
Shen asked whether it would not be possible to leave to some other government question of amending DR to provide for SC question. He also asked whether it would not be possible to have IQ “variation” voted on first, thus providing protection against passage of Albanian Resolution. Secretary and DePalma reviewed parliamentary [Page 745]situation, emphasizing importance of obtaining at early date majority support for our position in order to insure precedence for DR over AR. For that purpose, other governments will want to know our position on SC question. Secretary pointed out that if we attempt duck that question, we will be unable obtain majority required both to obtain precedence for DR and its passage. Result would be adoption of AR.
Shen pressed for some alternative, asking whether we would consider introduction of IQ “variation” and then proceed with DR which did not mention SC, leaving it to others to amend resolution on that point. At later point, Shen stated that GRC had hoped that in this way, even if DR did not obtain a majority AR also could not pass and situation would remain as is. Secretary replied that we would be prepared to give such approach serious consideration if GRC concludes that what it wants, but he emphasized that in his judgment it would fail. He stressed that our ability to defend GRC membership depends on obtaining majority support for our position and, without making clear that we foresee SC seat going to PRC, we do not believe we can obtain such support. Under any circumstances, we face difficult task, but if we delay much longer in making our position clear on this point, our problem will be made even more difficult by speculation that we uncertain what to do.
Shen again asked whether enough votes could be obtained to keep GRC in UN without reference to SC seat and whether we could not leave that question in abeyance until next year. Secretary replied by distinguishing between whether we would be willing to consider such an approach, to which answer is yes, and whether such an approach would succeed, and we convinced that it would not, particularly given shift which has taken place in position of many European governments. He stated that he had discussed this matter at some length with President on July 225 who wants to help GRC retain its membership and that they had gone over practical situation in detail. As had been explained to Congressional leaders, it was basic problem of how to obtain sufficient votes.
Secretary expressed hope that Shen would convey to his government spirit which prevails in Washington on this problem, and conviction that we confront hard, practical situation. Many other governments simply will not engage in any procedure designed to keep PRC out of UN, and they believe that failure to offer SC seat to Peking would be just such procedure. On other hand, if they understand that PRC would get SC, then we can make argument that it would be most unfair to expel GRC, which is larger than most UN members, has been [Page 746]member of UN in good standing since its birth and has lived up to Charter; we could also argue that it would be harmful to UN itself if such member were expelled. Such arguments would have advantage of not becoming confused with other issues. If counter-argument is made that PRC would not enter on that basis, we could take position that that up to Peking to decide. In response to Shen’s question, Secretary stated that we did not know what PRC would do, even after the Kissinger visit but if it chose to stay out, then its case would be weaker than it is in present situation when its sheer size gives it advantage in either/or contest with GRC. In new situation, PRC would have to stand on position that it would not enter unless GRC expelled. Our position would be that, without prejudice to relative claims of either of two entities, both should be represented in UN. In response to Shen’s question as to how long such an arrangement would last if PRC refused to enter UN and what would US do if PRC held out for GRC expulsion, Secretary replied that he believed GRC position would be much stronger than it is at present.
Shen commented that GRC being asked to agree to give up SC seat without any assurance that it would be able to retain UN membership. Secretary stated that we not asking GRC to make any particular decision. What we have done is to provide GRC with our best assessment of prospects and sought its views as to how it thought we should proceed. We not attempting to persuade GRC to do something which it believes would be wrong. Question facing us is not one of right or wrong or of what we might hope could be done, but of choice which hard facts present to us. We have come to conclusion that approach which Secretary had outlined to Shen offered best chance to protect UN membership of GRC. If GRC believed that some other course would be more effective, Secretary would be prepared to recommend that President give it serious consideration.
Shen asked whether we believe it legally possible to transfer SC seat to PRC, since Republic of China specifically named in Charter. Secretary noted that he had discussed this with Canadian Government which had concluded that Charter revision not required; our own legal experts had reached same conclusion. DePalma explained that use of certain names in Charter is not legal fact but matter of convenience, pointing out that Charter refers to “France” and not “Republic of France.” Entire UN practice makes clear that question of name cannot be used as substantive factor concerning this issue. Secretary commented that those who oppose us would take position that with passage of time, it cannot be ignored that PRC in fact represents China.
At Secretary’s suggestion, DePalma reviewed situation in SC concerning use of veto. He pointed out that question is certain to rise in form of challenge to GRC credentials. At present, there are eight [Page 747]members who have recognized PRC and would vote to seat it on SC; in addition, there are one or two other countries who probably would cast similar vote. If USG votes no, question will arise as to whether such vote constitutes veto. On basis past SC practice, credentials issue has been consistently viewed as procedural matter and if, in conformity with that practice, SC President rules our vote not a veto, we would have to obtain nine votes to overturn that ruling. Again it is practical problem of votes, and we could not obtain necessary nine votes. DePalma explained that Peking’s supporters are not likely to make this challenge unless President friendly to their cause is in chair. Although it unlikely, President could alternatively put his own ruling to vote in which case he would need to find nine votes to sustain his ruling. Unfriendly President would not choose that alternative. In any event, it should be remembered that for past 23 years there has been no successful attempt to exercise double veto. For number of years we have been able to avoid such challenge in SC by persuading members not to raise issue. Now, however, just as with past policy in UNGA, we cannot command sufficient support to insure outcome which would protect GRC on SC seat.
Secretary expressed hope there no misunderstanding about USG position. Shen assured Secretary that there was not and that USG position “quite clear to me.” He asked whether there any timetable for USG announcement of its decision. Secretary said that there is not, although he felt that both our interests would be served by making USG position clear as soon as possible. Shen stated that he would immediately report his discussion with the Secretary.
As on July 19,6 discussion was friendly and matter-of-fact throughout. Shen obviously probed hard to determine firmness of our assessments and conclusions, but at no point did he indulge in recriminations. He appeared relaxed but carefully attentive to Secretary and DePalma’s comments and explanations.
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, UN 6 CHICOM. Secret; Immediate; Nodis. Drafted by Shoesmith, cleared by Assistant Secretary De Palma and Executive Secretary Eliot, and approved by Secretary Rogers. Repeated to Tokyo and USUN.
  2. See footnote 3, Document 379.
  3. Document 380.
  4. See Document 368.
  5. See Document 377.
  6. See footnote 2, Document 379.