443. Memorandum From John H. Holdridge of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1

SUBJECT

  • Ch’iao Kuan-hua Addresses the UN: “China Belongs to the Third World”

Ch’iao Kuan-hua, head of the PRC UN Delegation, has reaffirmed the basic political orientation of the Peking Government in his first address to the world organization.2 The major theme of the statement is that China is not, and will not become, a “superpower”; that the PRC belongs to the “third world.” Peking thus stresses its intent to rally support for its cause from the small and medium-sized countries of Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

Ch’iao’s address reiterates the main themes and issues of Chinese foreign policy of the past few years:

  • —It is only because of “gross interference in China’s internal affairs” by the U.S. that the PRC has—until this year—been excluded from its rightful place in the UN.
  • —The strong majority of UN support for the Albanian Resolution is a defeat for the U.S., in collusion with “the Sato Government of Japan,” in its effort to create “two Chinas.” The PRC thus is targeting on Sato, while hoping a political figure in Japan will emerge who is more favorable to their position on Taiwan (or that Sato will modify his position to outflank his opposition).
  • —Regarding Taiwan, “it was only because of the outbreak of the Korean War” that the U.S. went back on its word (as expressed in the Cairo and Potsdam Declarations) that the island should be restored to mainland control. “On behalf of the Government of the PRC, I hereby reiterate that Taiwan is an inalienable part of Chinese territory and the
  • U.S. armed invasion and occupation of China’s Taiwan and the Taiwan Straits cannot in the least alter the sovereignty of the PRC over Taiwan, that all the armed forces of the United States definitely should be withdrawn from Taiwan and the Taiwan Straits and that we are firmly opposed to any design to separate Taiwan from the motherland. The [Page 882]Chinese people are determined to liberate Taiwan and no force on earth can stop us from doing so.”
  • —Regarding Indochina, Ch’iao called for “immediate and unconditional” withdrawal of U.S. forces, and supported the 7 point peace plan of the Provisional Revolutionary Government of South Vietnam.
  • —Concerning Korea, there was no direct call for withdrawal of U.S. troops; but North Korea’s 8 point program for national reunification was supported, and the demand was pressed that the UN annul its “illegal resolutions” on the Korean question and dissolve UNCURK.
  • —In the Middle East, Ch’iao expressed support for the Palestinians and other Arab peoples against “Israeli Zionism” and the major powers.
  • —Support was given to the African states struggling against “white colonialist rule” and racial discrimination.
  • —Ch’iao expressed support for the “third world” in its desire for economic independence, explicitly backing the Latin American countries seeking to extend the limit of their territorial waters out to 200 miles.
  • —Regarding disarmament questions, “China will never participate in the so-called nuclear disarmament talks between the nuclear powers behind the backs of the non-nuclear countries. Under no circumstances will China be the first to use nuclear weapons.”

Comment:

Ch’iao’s speech seems basically a “going on the record” with positions which the PRC has been advocating for the past several years—longer in the cases of Taiwan and Korea. It contained no surprises. The presentation is notable, however, for its lack of an operational focus. Ch’iao does not telegraph very much about specific measures which Peking will resort to in solving issues of concern such as Taiwan and Korea. The PRC intends to differentiate itself from the U.S. and USSR, and challenge us on the outstanding issues; but there is no indication in this speech that Peking has thought through the operational choices necessary to obtain its end.

While taken at face value the anti-U.S. tone of the speech can be read as laying down the gauntlet to us, it may be that Peking has merely stated its general position for the record to satisfy domestic and international audiences. Evidence from diplomatic sources, and from a Chou En-lai press conference of October 28, most strongly supports the view that the PRC delegation will adopt a low-profile posture during the remaining General Assembly session. One cannot preclude the possibility that Peking might now see it in its interest (or find its hand forced) to press aggressively on certain issues which would lead to a public confrontation with the U.S. It seems most likely, however, that [Page 883]Ch’iao and his associates will wait for an assessment of PRC strength in the General Assembly (particularly among “third world” countries) before adopting a more aggressive political posture next year.3

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 302, Agency Files, USUN, Vol. VIII. Confidential. Sent for information.
  2. A translation of Chiao Kuan-hua’s November 15 address was sent in telegram 4245 from USUN, November 16. (Ibid., RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, UN 3 GA)
  3. After this first speech by a PRC representative in New York, Kissinger described to Nixon his conflict with Rogers over how the United States should respond. Kissinger stated: “Then I want it low-key. [Rogers] said it was an outrageous speech, and it’s partly his ignorance. If you read what they said about Vietnam, it had tough rhetoric, but it didn’t ask for a deadline. It didn’t ask for the overthrow of Thieu, all it said was American troops have to be withdrawn, but no deadline.” Nixon called the PRC statements a “damn smart strategy on their part, instead of coming in and sucking around at the UN.” Kissinger continued: “Now what I did is I gave Bush a statement, which repeats some of my rebuttals to Chou without labeling them as such, and a very brief one. It says we’re disappointed that they came, instead of being—firing empty cannons of rhetoric. The reason I picked that is that when I complained about these placards [during his October trip to the PRC], Chou said to me, don’t worry about it, it’s just empty cannons.” Kissinger and Nixon agreed that these statements should be made from New York. As Kissinger stated: “Well, moreover if we do it in Washington, they’ll reply in Peking. If they do it in New York, they can reply in New York if they want to. Secondly, nothing would please the Russians more than for us to be in a public brawl with the Chinese. Thirdly, people are going to say what the hell is he going there for, if we now get into a huge brawl with them.” (Ibid., Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Tapes, November 16, 12:33–1:59 p.m., Oval Office, Conversation No. 619–28) For Bush’s remarks, see Tad Szulc, “US Assails China as ‘Intemperate’ in Speech at UN,” The New York Times, November 17, 1971, pp. 1, 10.