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


  • The People’s Republic of China Enters the UN: Prospects for Her Political Posture, Staff Competence, Voting Patterns, and Issues

The rapid turn around on Chinese representation in the UN raises new prospects for the world organization. This memorandum sketches out Peking’s likely political posture for the present UN session, notes [Page 889]the competence of her delegation staff, explores the issues that are likely to involve China’s relations with the U.S. and USSR, and suggests possible voting patterns that may emerge in the General Assembly given the PRC’s presence.

China’s Political Posture: Defender of “Oppressed Nations” Against the “Super-Powers”

The tone of PRC public statements regarding her sudden acceptance by the UNGA as the sole legitimate government of China has been a self-righteous sense that her “legitimate rights” have been restored. The vote against the US-sponsored IQ resolution and subsequent support for the Albanian resolution is pictured in mainland media as representing “the defeat of might by justice.”

Peking’s international propaganda for several years has attempted to portray the PRC as defender of small countries against the bullying of the two super-powers. This line has been given particular emphasis in Chinese statements on her entrance to the UN, apparently in an effort to build a base of support from “third world” countries—and to undercut backing for the U.S. and USSR. “China will never be a super-power bullying other countries,” asserted an official PRC statement of October 29. Acting Foreign Minister Chi P’eng-fei told guests at an official banquet on November 3 that China had long “supported all the oppressed nations and peoples,” and that “the one or two super-powers are finding it more and more difficult to engage in truculent acts of manipulating the UN and international affairs.” And in an interview with a Japanese newsman made public on November 9, Chou En-lai stressed, “We must particularly and without fail respect the opinions of the small and medium-sized nations.” In contrast, PRC propaganda has attempted to characterize official U.S. handling of the GA vote, and the subsequent reaction to the expulsion of the Nationalists, as “dollar blackmail” and crude political abuse.

The rapid sequence of developments in the UN seems to have confronted Peking with new opportunities and problems earlier than anticipated. A report from the Norwegian Ambassador to Peking characterizes the PRC as “completely unprepared to enter the UN this year;” and Chou En-lai has publicly stated that he was “surprised” by the “overwhelming majority” vote for the Albanian resolution.

The most notable political issue raised by Peking in the wake of the General Assembly vote has been an attack on the U.S. and Japan for allegedly promoting “Taiwan independence.” Thus while Peking has succeeded in undercutting international support for the Nationalists, the Party leadership now sees that it has landed on the other horn of its dilemma of preventing the island, further severed from institutional and political ties to the mainland via the UN, from moving closer toward de facto independence.

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How will Peking use its new UN presence to deal with the Taiwan issue, and other matters of concern to its security and international support? While this question is dealt with in a subsequent section of this memorandum on an issue-by-issue basis, it is our view that at least initially Peking will tread cautiously in a public forum where the ground is untested. Chou En-lai said as much in his interview with the Japanese newsman, stressing that China must “not be indiscreet and haphazard” as she enters the UN.

It seems that Peking initially will prefer to deal with her most sensitive issues through other channels. Most obvious is the new link to the USG. Peking has invested its public prestige heavily behind the coming Presidential visit (as most evident in the publicity given to Mr. Kissinger’s second visit to Peking); and given indications of Chou Enlai’s awareness of opposition to the President’s China policy from the American “right,” it seems likely that the PRC UN delegation will not seek to confront the U.S. on the most contentious matters during this session of the General Assembly. More likely, the PRC will want to explore such issues as Taiwan and Korea at the confidential and authoritative level of the Presidency in order to gain a sense of its options.

PRC Staff Competence in the UN: Starting with the “First Team”

A CCP cadre in Hong Kong has described the PRC delegation to the UN as China’s “first team.” Analysis of the professional experience of the eleven-man delegation reveals a number of characteristics which support such an assertion. Above all, this delegation is a “Chou Enlai” team. The senior members of the delegation have had long personal association with Chou, and four of the group have served in official ambassadorial roles in Chou’s Foreign Ministry.

This is a well-seasoned delegation: the senior members of the group have had personal experience in dealing with Americans going back to the days of the Yenan “Dixie Mission” of 1944–1945, and the Marshall Mission of 1946. The broad international negotiating experience of the group includes participation in the 1950 UN China debate, the Panmunjom negotiations, the 1954 Geneva Conference on Korea, the 1955 Bandung Conference, the 1961–1962 Geneva Conference on Laos, the Sino-Soviet Border negotiations, and the most recent “Kissinger” Sino-American contacts in Peking. All these negotiating situations, it might be emphasized, were directed by Chou En-lai.

A number of minor characteristics of the group include experience with press and propaganda work, and exposure to life in foreign countries including the U.S., USSR, Poland, Egypt, India, Germany, Canada, Ghana, Tanzania, and the Congo.

One member of the group has been identified as a member of the International Liaison Department of the Chinese Communist Party, and [Page 891]one is thought to be an intelligence operative with experience in dealing with “leftist” or revolutionary groups. It is rumored that the one female in the group, Wang Hai-yung, is a niece of Mao Tse-tung.

The fact that Huang Hua, the PRC’s Permanent Representative to the UN, is transferring his base of operations from Ottawa to New York suggests that the PRC will actively use its UN presence to strengthen its influence in the world community. It also seems likely that the delegation will use its New York base to increase information gathering activities regarding the U.S., and as an informal diplomatic presence for contact with USG. In some measure, the PRC’s UN presence removes any incentive for a reciprocal establishment of diplomatic relations (at whatever level) with the United States.

Peking Seeks to Build a Claque in the “Third World”

In a speech of November 8, CCP Politburo member Chang Ch’unch’iao asserted, “The trend of small and medium-sized countries to unite in opposition to the power politics of the super-powers is making headway with each passing day.” Chou En-lai’s active diplomacy among “third world” countries in preparation for the Chirep vote, reinforced by the increased level of PRC trade and economic aid programs in Asia, Africa, and Latin America this year, indicates a determined effort to build a base of support among “non-aligned” countries which can be expressed, in part, through support for PRC policies in the UN.

Particular voting issues will obviously play a major role in defining country positions in the General Assembly. But it is likely that race and colonial questions will enable Peking to strengthen support from African and some Latin American states. Disarmament questions might give her the basis for gaining support against both the U.S. and USSR. Some economic and arms control and race issues may enable Peking to gain backing at U.S. expense.

UN Issues: Isolating the “Super-Powers”

Apparently earlier than expected the PRC will have to take positions on major international issues given its UN presence during the remaining session of this General Assembly. On the basis of those items now inscribed on the agenda for the 26th session, the following are our estimates of likely PRC positions:

Items 22, 38, 40, the Middle East Crisis, Palestinian Refugees, and Israeli Practices. This is a set of issues where the Chinese at no real expense to themselves, can assert themselves in a way which will place them on the right side of a problem with the Arab states and at the expense of the U.S. The PRC rebuff to the Israelis when they refused to accept their telegram of congratulations on the passage of the Albanian Resolution, and Chou En-lai’s recent public criticism of Israel for [Page 892]having started an “aggressive war,” indicate a willingness to “distinguish clearly between self and enemy” in the Middle East.

Items 23, 55, and 65, Colonial Independence, Portuguese and Southern Rhodesia Territories, and non-Self-Governing Territories. This is another set of issues where the Chinese, in this session of the GA, might very well take a “hard” position in order to gain support from “third world” countries without having to confront her major protagonists. Chou Enlai also signalled as much in this area when, in his interview with the Japanese journalist, he ridiculed Portuguese support for China’s admission to the UN by saying this would never deter her from attacking Portugal on the colonial question.

Other issues under this general rubric which might be used against the U.S. are related to our current negotiations over the Trust Territories of the Pacific Islands, and the Panama Canal Zone.

Items 27, 29, 32, and 97, Disarmament Issues, Nuclear Testing, and Use of the Seabed. Reporting has indicated that the Chinese are considering supporting the Soviet position on a World Disarmament Conference, but have not made up their mind on this question. While the Chinese might attempt to use disarmament discussions to “expose” the reluctance of the U.S. and USSR to agree to total and complete disarmament—a position Chou En-lai has espoused in the past—their own developing nuclear program puts them in the awkward position of wanting to test their own growing capabilities while damning the “super-powers.” They have long sought to justify their own weapons program as breaking the nuclear monopoly of the U.S. and USSR, but their position may now take new directions as the issues are defined by the world community.

In order to deal with contradictory pressures, the Chinese may seek to break the disarmament issue into more limited problem areas and take conflicting positions, such as seeking to justify their own testing program while supporting moves to make the seabed off limits to weapons placement. They can be expected to support regional disarmament or “weapons-free zone” proposals, such as Ceylon is considering for the Indian Ocean, and may attempt to inhibit their geographical rivals—the Indians and Japanese—from developing nuclear weapons in the context of a regional arms control program.

Items 37, 54, Apartheid and Racial Discrimination. Here is another issue area where at little cost to themselves the Chinese can take a strong moral position in order to win support in Africa. They might even feel justified in attacking the U.S. on the racism issue; but given our expectation that they will be cautious and protect the Presidential visit in the next few months, they are likely to leave this matter to the initiative of third parties.

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Issues That Might Be Raised By the PRC:

In addition to the GA’s present agenda, there are a number of contentious issues which, at some point, the Chinese may very well wish to raise in the UN. While we do not think they will do so this year for the political considerations already noted, it is at least useful to call these issues to attention:

  • Cambodia. In their October 29 official statement, the Chinese gave unusual support to Prince SihanoUK for his efforts to have the PRC’s “lawful rights” restored in the UN. This unusual degree of backing for an exile with limited opportunity to assist them in the UN prompted speculation that the Chinese might use the precedence of the GRC’s expulsion to promote the expulsion of the Khmer Republic and have the Royal Government of National Union take over Cambodia’s UN seat. There is, however, no evidence which would support this speculation, and it seems to us that at least in her first year of UN membership the PRC would be unlikely to promote such a contentious issue for an exile government. In future years, however, this situation might change, especially if the Lon Nol government falls.
  • Korea. The blocking of inscription of the yearly Korean debate on this year’s GA agenda has temporarily removed from consideration one of the most contentious issues in Sino-American relations. It is conceivable that the Chinese might seek to have the Korean question rein-scribed this year, but considering the coming Presidential visit, and the weak international position of the North Koreans, we think this unlikely. In future years, however, as the Chinese gain a sense of their support in the UN and as international backing for Kim Il-song’s government might grow, it seems expectable that the PRC will seek to have the UN Korean Command and UNCURK dissolved, and the resolution of 1950 branding them an aggressor for involving themselves in the Korean conflict, rescinded.
  • Territorial limit of 200 miles. Peru and Ecuador are among the nations interested in having territorial waters extended out to 200 miles. The Chinese already have given public support to this position in their communiqué of November 2, issued when they established diplomatic relations with Peru, although the PRC itself claims a 12-mile territorial sea. Peking may well support the right of coastal states to determine their own territorial limits, a position which they could exploit at U.S. expense.
  • Taiwan. In due time the PRC is very likely to raise issues relating to Taiwan—the island’s legal status, and U.S. and Japanese treaties with the GRC—in the UN. Given the exceptional contentiousness of these matters, however, we do not anticipate moves in this direction before the Presidential visit, and until the Chinese [Page 894]have tested sentiment in the international community. This, however, does not mean a moratorium on rhetoric.

The PRC vs. the Nationalists in the UN Specialized Agencies

The question of continued Nationalist Chinese (ROC) representation in UN specialized agencies will be coming up over the period of the next year. General Assembly action has already had the automatic effect of replacing Taipei with Peking in the UN subsidiary organs—the Trusteeship Council and the Economic and Social Council, along with its Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East (ECAFE) and its UN International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF).

Two specialized agencies, the UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the International Labor Organization (ILO), have already expelled the ROC and seated Peking. Taipei has also been deprived of observer status in GATT. The ROC probably has little or no chance for continued representation in four of the specialized agencies,2 given the fact that a majority of their members voted for the Albanian Resolution. Sentiment seems to be running strong among members to bring the PRC into all parts of the UN at an early date, seemingly out of an undifferentiated enthusiasm to see the PRC represented, but possibly also to avoid complicating bilateral negotiations over the establishment of diplomatic relations or the conduct of the bilateral relationship if already established. Peking has undoubtedly reinforced this immediate post-victory emotion by its strong statement of October 29 calling for Taipei’s expulsion from all UN agencies forthwith—although not making this in any way a precondition for PRC participation in the UN.

The ROC probably has a somewhat better, but not very hopeful, chance in three other specialized agencies—the International Atomic Energy Agency, the International Civil Aviation Organization, and the International Telecommunications Union. In these organizations substantive technical problems and certain procedural considerations give the ROC some opportunity to hold onto a seat, particularly if the agencies were to delay considering the Chirep problem until after the current enthusiasm for immediate PRC entry abates.

The ROC has a better opportunity to stay on in the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank Group (the IBRD), the International Development Association, and the International Finance Corporation. The Communist states—with the exception of Yugoslavia—have remained aloof from these “capitalist” agencies, and we have no [Page 895]indication at this time that Peking will wish to join them. Thus we do not expect the pressure for the GRC’s expulsion to be as great in these organizations, although member countries may respond to Peking’s indirect pressures for expulsion for their own political reasons. The weighted voting in these agencies, moreover, does give some advantage to the GRC, and the past practice of not always following the General Assembly’s lead would make the Chirep vote of less influence here. In addition, the ROC has sizeable outstanding financial obligations in at least two of these agencies.

Despite its public posture of adamant opposition to the Nationalists, the PRC will very possibly be content to passively allow the existing tide of opinion to work its will in most of the specialized agencies in the coming months. The ROC, for its part, has told us privately that, while it will publicly say it intends to make a stiff fight to hang on in every case, it will do so only where it has a reasonable chance of retaining a seat. It believes this approach will conserve its diplomatic capital for a campaign to hold and strengthen those bilateral relationships that it deems of real importance to its international position.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 1317, NSC Secretariat, Richard Solomon Chrons, 1971. Secret. Sent for information. Concurred in by Wright. Attached is a one-page chart dividing UN members into “Independents,” “U.S. Supporters,” “Sino-U.S. Cross-Pressured,” “PRC Supporters,” “Sino-Soviet Cross-Pressured,” “Soviet Supporters,” “U.S.-Soviet Cross-Pressured,” and “Small Arab States.”
  2. The World Meteorological Organization, World Health Organization, Universal Postal Union, and the Inter-governmental Maritime Consultative Organization. [Footnote in the source text.]