417. Memorandum From Secretary of State Rogers to President Nixon 1


  • Status Report on the Chinese Representation Issue

As votes stand at the moment, we are neck-and-neck with the opponents of our approach to Chinese Representation in the United Nations. Although it is impossible to predict the final outcome because of the number of uncommitted or wavering votes, I would say that our prospects for success are just a little less than even. I have little doubt that we will win priority consideration for the Important Question Resolution. As for the vote on that resolution itself our present estimate is that we can count on about 52 votes in its favor, while our opponents have about 56 votes against. Whether the Important Question Resolution passes or not will be decided by how the remaining member nations vote, and my present judgment is that we have a better chance than our opponents of picking up some of those undecided votes if we make an urgent, high-level effort.

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On the Albanian Resolution itself, our opponents can count on some 62 sure votes in its favor and could get as many as 70. If we manage to pass the Important Question Resolution, I am confident that we can muster a blocking third. We can be sure of 37 votes against the Albanian Resolution and may be able to increase that number by an additional 6 to 8 votes from among the undecided. Everything thus depends on picking up the necessary number for the Important Question, thus requiring a two-thirds majority for adoption of the Albanian Resolution.

The vote count on the Dual Representation Resolution is also close. We can count on some 45 votes in favor; our opponents can count on 47 firm votes against. However, if we manage to pass the Important Question Resolution and thus prevent passage of the Albanian Resolution, we should be able to obtain sufficient votes from those presently uncommitted (and possibly even from a few who will have voted against us earlier), to give us a small margin for victory. Clearly, everything hinges upon whether we can muster the extra votes needed to pass the Important Question Resolution.

My conversations with Foreign Ministers in New York and reports from our posts around the world indicate that countries are reluctant to commit themselves to support our initiative primarily for the following reasons:

Interest in improving their own relations with Peking, especially now that we ourselves are moving toward normalization, and fear of being left behind. Peking is playing on the worries of such countries that failure to support entry on its terms will affect their relations.
A belief that it is more important to see Peking seated in the UN than to prevent Taiwan’s expulsion, and a conviction that Peking will not come in as long as Taiwan remains. All this is wrapped up in a great amount of legal argumentation, ranging from the specious to the sophisticated. Our task is to cut through the legalistic underbrush and down to the essentials.

Since launching our initiative on August 2, we have made a maximum effort around the world to build support and to counter the opposing arguments. I have urged that our ambassadors give this top priority, and as a result there have been repeated démarches in all countries where we have a diplomatic mission and the issue is not foreclosed. The Department has mobilized all its available resources. I myself have sent personal letters to 51 Foreign Ministers, and in New York held discussions so far with 68 Foreign Ministers or Chief Delegates. Ambassador Bush has been equally unstinting in his own efforts.

I would cite just two examples where despite our best efforts the situation looks unfavorable or is still in the balance, but where we should not take no for an answer.

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Mexico. From the beginning, Foreign Minister Rabasa has been hostile to our resolutions and favorable to the Albanian Resolution. It is doubtful that our arguments reached President Echeverria. For a while it looked as if Echeverria were inclined to give us support, but apparently Rabasa convinced him otherwise. When Echeverria addressed the UN General Assembly he came out strongly against “dividing” China, which was widely interpreted as foreshadowing votes against our Important Question and Dual Representation Resolutions. I had a discussion with President Echeverria in New York, and found that Rabasa was doing most of the talking for him on this subject. Apparently Rabasa expects to produce a Mexican abstention as a concession to us, but we need an affirmative vote.
Austria. In the past six weeks alone, our Ambassador called on the Foreign Minister, the Chancellor and the Chef de Cabinet, and has written to the Chancellor. Other Embassy personnel called on senior people in the Austrian Foreign Ministry three times. In Washington we had three discussions with the Austrian ambassador and two informal talks with the Foreign Minister. Finally, I had an intensive session with the Foreign Minister in New York. All he would say was that his government would give further study to our Important Question Resolution. At the same time, the Foreign Minister said that Austria is prepared to vote in favor of the Albanian Resolution.

The debate on Chinese Representation is scheduled to begin October 18, and the first votes are likely to be taken about a week later. It is my judgment that we must bring about ten more nations to our side on the Important Question Resolution to assure its adoption. If we cannot do this, we must expect to see the Important Question defeated, in which case the Albanian Resolution will pass and the Republic of China will be expelled from the United Nations.

In an effort to maximize our chances, I will shortly recommend a few carefully timed Presidential messages for your signature, to be despatched to selected countries whose votes could make the difference between success and failure.

William P. Rogers
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, UN 6 CHICOM. Secret; Exdis. Drafted by Feldman and cleared by Herz, Assistant Secretaries De Palma and Green, and Pedersen. An attached memorandum of transmittal from De Palma and Green to Rogers is also dated October 12.