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

5457. Subj: Chirep: Atmospherics of Ambassador’s Meeting With President Chiang. Ref: Taipei 5403.2

Summary: When Ambassador delivered oral message to President Chiang following UNGA expulsion action, President’s attitude was one of interest and appreciation for US support, but he was not in a communicative mood. All of Ambassador’s efforts to draw him into substantive conversation were unsuccessful. President asked pointedly whether message was from President or State Dept. Ambassador replied message was from US Government and explained exclusive authority and responsibility of President for conduct of foreign relations under US Constitution. President Chiang’s unusually close-mouthed posture is believed to stem from his need for more time to adjust to the setback of Oct. 25 before he takes a position.

1.
In my October 29 meeting with President Chiang to deliver USG oral message of reassurance and sympathy following UNGA expulsion action, President seemed normally vigorous and showed complete self-control. He was courteous, considerate, and mildly responsive to my sentiments of felicitation on the eve of the 84th anniversary of his birth. However, he was not inclined at all to enter into substantive conversation. My efforts to elicit something of his thinking on the new situation created for the GRC, or at least to get his reaction to the sad events of October 25, were unavailing.
2.
I prefaced my delivery of oral message with some general comments which were a blend of expressions of regret and sympathy on the one hand, and an effort to focus on ways to minimize the adverse consequences and make the best of a difficult situation on the other. I mentioned particularly the problem of maintaining GRC membership in the specialized agencies of concrete value to the GRC, capitalizing on the fact that the specialized agencies are not bound by the action of the General Assembly. I indicated that our legal and international organization specialists were already studying this problem in close concert with GRC representatives in New York and Washington and I speculated in a preliminary way on the relative utility to the GRC of membership in several of the specialized bodies. Ordinarily this type [Page 872]of approach would be sufficient to launch an animated discussion with the President, but he remained noncommittal though attentive. I then directly invited him to give us the benefit of his thinking on the best means of coping with the difficult new international relations situation we face as a result of the exclusion action of the UNGA. I recalled how illuminating and how valuable to us his insights and analyses, based on his wisdom and vast experience, had proven on numerous occasions. Again the President showed a disinclination to be drawn out by indicating that he would prefer to hear the US views.
3.
I then delivered the oral message reading slowly, and with added emphasis on some key passages. I paused after every sentence or so for translation by Ambassador Ying, who was serving as substitute interpreter in the absence of Fred Chien. Ying did a rather poor job, even though he had before him a carbon copy of the document from which I was reading. He hesitated, stumbled, corrected himself, and seemed almost in a state of confusion at one point. The President’s military aide came to his rescue on the spur of the moment, showing a good comprehension of the locutions which were giving Ying difficulty. President Chiang followed the presentation closely and asked for clarification of several phrases which appeared to be obscure in Ying’s off-the-cuff translation. When I finished delivery of the oral message, I passed the confirmatory aide-mémoire to Acting FonMin Tchen.
4.
The President briefly expressed his thanks for the message. Noting my added remarks at the end of the oral message characterizing the views expressed as having the full support of the President of the United States, President Chiang asked bluntly if the message was from the President or from the State Department. I replied, possibly with a trace of warmth, that the message was from the Government of the United States. I added that the President under our Constitution has full authority and responsiblity for the formulation of the foreign policy and the conduct of the foreign relations of the United States. The Department of State serves as the agent of the President in implementing the foreign policy which he establishes.
5.
In a further attempt to draw President Chiang into a discussion which would give me some insight into his thinking or at least his mood, I referred to the important meeting of FonMin Chow Shu-kai with Secretary Rogers which would begin in Washington within a few hours. The President merely said he hoped Minister Chow would not fail to express the gratitude of the GRC for all the hard work of Secretary Rogers, Ambassador Bush, and their colleagues in defense of GRC membership in the UN.
6.
As I prepared to depart I expressed the strong resolve of the USG to do all it could to shore up the international position of the GRC in this time of adversity and in conjunction with GRC representatives [Page 873]to seek the best possible means of offsetting the damage done by the UNGA action. President said we must all work harder than ever in order to negate the bad effects of the UN action.
7.
Comment. The President did not strike me as a man having nothing of a substantive nature in mind. Rather he seemed to be refraining for a reason from significant comment at this juncture. I estimate, that while he is not in a state of actual shock, he wants more time to evaluate his drastically altered situation and to determine the best posture for him to adopt in the wake of the traumatic events of the week. He is aware that any views or reactions voiced by him will be carefully studied by US representatives, and he probably feels it would be premature for him to go on record at a time when his mental and emotional reaction has not completely jelled. I do not believe we should read any broad implications into his rather uncommunicative attitude on this occasion.
McConaughy
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, UN 6 CHICOM. Secret; Exdis. Repeated to USUN and Tokyo.
  2. See footnote 2, Document 434.