433. Memorandum of Conversation1

SUBJECT

  • Chirep, ROC–US Bilateral Relations

PARTICIPANTS

  • Chow Shu-kai, Foreign Minister, Republic of China
  • James Shen, Ambassador, Chinese Embassy
  • Frederick F. Chien, Director, North American Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • The Secretary
  • Richard Pedersen, Counselor
  • Marshall Green, Assistant Secretary, EA
  • Samuel DePalma, Assistant Secretary, IO
  • Leo Moser, Director, Republic of China Affairs

Summary: Foreign Minister Chow Shu-kai, enroute back to Taipei after his departure from New York, paid a call on the Secretary in which he expressed his gratitude for US support on the issue of Chinese representation in the United Nations, indicated a generally flexible position in respect to future contests to maintain ROC representation in specialized agencies, and requested continued US bilateral support in [Page 861]terms of 1) military equipment and 2) actions to help maintain the economic viability of the Republic of China. End summary.

The conversation began with the Secretary expressing his regret that he had to meet the Foreign Minister under these conditions. The US had struggled mightily in its efforts to maintain ROC representation in the UN. The Secretary reviewed successful last minute efforts to line up the votes of such countries as Mexico. He mentioned the difficulties presented by the change of position on the part of Senegal, Cyprus, Belgium and others. (The Senegal change was particularly difficult because it involved also the loss of the Togo vote.) The Secretary stressed that the President had been deeply involved in the effort to assure continued ROC representation in the United Nations.

Minister Chow expressed the gratitude of his country for the support of the US Government and mentioned in particular Ambassadors Bush and Phillips in New York. He feared no decent country would want to be associated with the United Nations and it might go “down the drain.” He mentioned the fact that the General Assembly had broken into laughter when the votes of Israel and Portugal were recorded. The opportunistic position of those governments he decribed as “disgraceful.” He expressed his gratitude to Japan and said he was happy to see the Sato government had weathered the criticism.

The Secretary observed that the vote had gone reasonably well in Latin America. US efforts had turned both Argentina and Mexico toward our position. Only Trinidad and Tobago was a last minute disappointment. Belgium’s decision to recognize the People’s Republic of China came, he remarked, at a bad time—particularly since we had so little support in Europe generally. Minister Chow mentioned that in the future the bilateral relations of the Republic of China with good friends like the United States and Japan would be more important than the multilateral side of things. He mentioned that the US Government had assured his government of the continuation of the Treaty commitment and of close economic ties. He expressed his hope that the Secretary or the President would once again be able to make a public statement along these lines.

The Secretary of State mentioned that the issue had been covered in his testimony before the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee on October 27. He provided Minister Chow with the appropriate pages from that testimony, saying that the GRC could use his statements if it felt they would be appropriate.

For the future, Minister Chow said, the two important things were to guarantee a viable economy and assure external security. External security would require military equipment. The ROC armed forces were in need of modernization. He specifically mentioned the need for tanks, for two or three submarines for training purposes and for more [Page 862]modern aircraft. Minister Chow mentioned that the delivery of such equipment might take place over the years but that a US commitment at this time would be of great value in terms of morale on Taiwan. On the economic side, Minister Chow expressed his hope that the US would continue to encourage trade and investment on Taiwan.

Minister Chow stated that his Government was attempting to maintain commercial relations with those governments that have recently established relations with Communist China. In Belgium it hoped to set up a group called perhaps “the Chinese Cultural Center” to provide consular, cultural and commercial contacts in the area. The ROC was also interested in maintaining offices in Geneva and Vienna. It was contemplating launching a “counteroffensive” in Scandinavia, in an attempt to develop commercial relations and an informal presence in that area. From Saudi Arabia a roving ROC Ambassador would cover the Gulf states. Saudi Arabia would be a good anchor for ROC interests in the Near East since the King was a good friend. Brazil could be a similar base for South America, Guatemala for Central America. Ambassador Shen expressed the hope that the US would be able to help the ROC maintain its informal commercial relations with Canada and Italy.

The Secretary stated that he felt the USG could be helpful on the economic side. He mentioned the visit of Governor Reagan to Taiwan as a recent evidence of interest in expanded commercial contacts between California and the Republic of China. The USG could probably encourage US investment in Taiwan to some extent by its future actions. On the military side, the Secretary said, there could be problems. It would not be in the interest of either the ROC or the US to make it appear that there was some sort of military crisis in the area that had to be met by new military equipment. The Secretary expressed his opinion that the Treaty commitment of the US was our major presence in the area. It would be most unfortunate, he said, to give any signal that might be misinterpreted as concern over the security of the area.

Minister Chow stated that he did not wish to make an issue of military aid but stated that he hoped that US assurances in terms of the defense commitment could be translated into something tangible. The Secretary responded that there was a problem of psychological impact, since an action designed to increase stability by supplying more equipment could lead to the opposite effect of undermining the military stability of the area. The most immediate need was to guarantee the economic stability of the ROC. The Secretary asked the Foreign Minister for his views on the specialized agencies.

Chow stated that generalization was difficult. Each agency must be studied separately in terms of its history, membership, and voting procedures. He noted that there is weighted voting in the Fund and [Page 863]the Bank and that the communist nations had not generally joined some agencies. The UPU, ILO and some other agencies are much older than than UN, Chow noted, and these older agencies are not a part of the UN system in the same way as organizations like ECAFE—in which, for example, he foresaw no chance of retaining ROC membership.

Chow stated his Government would have to declare publicly that it intended to fight to the end to retain its seat in all specialized agencies. He added, however, that he did not intend in fact to expose his Government to unnecessary loss of prestige by entering into hopeless contests.

The Secretary stated that it was obvious that further study would be necessary before we could decide what could be done in the various specialized agencies. Meanwhile, we would remain in consultation with the ROC. Mr. DePalma said that the USG would in the interim do its best to insure that each specialized agency followed its own constitutional procedure and did not act precipitously in the area of Chinese representation.

The Secretary remarked that Mr. Meany had said that if the ROC were expelled from the ILO, he would not wish to stay in that organization. The Secretary asked Mr. DePalma how the situation looked in the ILO, and Mr. DePalma replied that it was most difficult to say at the present time.

Ambassador Shen remarked that in the IMF the US had some 25 percent of the shares. Presumably the Chinese Communists would not want to enter such an organization, anyway. Mr. Pedersen said that in most of the “main line” UN specialized agencies it would be very hard to win, since most rely on a simple majority.

Chow recalled that USSR had formerly criticized the UN, saying that the US always had “an automatic majority.” Now Chow feared, “the other side” may think they have an automatic majority. This could turn the UN and other related agencies into irresponsible “circuses,” no longer capable of fulfilling their proper role.

The conversation ended with Minister Chow stating that he hoped the USG would be able to continue to repeat its assurances in respect to its relations with the ROC. “Of all good things,” he said, “you can’t have too many.”

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, UN 6 CHICOM. Secret; Exdis. Drafted by Moser, cleared by Assistant Secretaries Green and DePalma and Pedersen, and approved November 8 in S.