145. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in the Republic of China 1
Washington, July 16, 1971.
- ROC Ambassador Shen, acting under instructions, called on Assistant Secretary Green in action parallel to that taken by Acting Foreign Minister Yang with Ambassador McConaughy (Ref tels). As instructed. Shen lodged strong protest and expressed profound regret at act that should “hardly be described as a friendly act.” He said it would have consequences not only for both our countries, but for whole free world. He said ROC wants to know what transpired in Peking between Kissinger and Chou En-lai. Expressing concern about where we go from here, Shen asked whether the announcement was the decision referred to when the President on June 1 said that a decision regarding UN representation would be made in about six weeks.
- Green responded that this announcement could not reasonably be called an unfriendly act. The President had said that it would “not be at the expense of our old friends,” which meant the ROC. Green said the visit was motivated by a desire to find some way to ease the tensions which had so long existed in East Asia without letting down our guard or undercutting our friends.
- As for other points raised by Shen, Green suggested that they might be discussed with Secretary Rogers who would be glad to see Shen at 11:00 a.m. Monday, July 19. Shen accepted with thanks. Green stated firmly that the President’s announcement does not affect our friendship and relations with the ROC. He affirmed that our defense [Page 457] commitment continues. He said he thought the Secretary might be able to throw some light on Chirep when he saw Shen.
- Shen said Taipei was upset at this development. He had just learned of Premier Yen’s statement from the ROC UN Mission. It too expressed profound surprise and regret. Shen said that the US had chosen a very unusual way to show its friendship for the ROC—by accepting an invitation from the leader of a rebel regime which usurps the mainland. He expressed appreciation for Green’s reassurance that the US continues to stand by the ROC and intends to maintain its defense treaty commitment. He noted, however, that this had not stopped the US from having high-level dealings with what the ROC regards as a rebel regime. He pointed out that restoration of its control over the mainland remains an ROC objective.
- Green said he could only emphasize that tensions and wars in East Asia had continued for a long time, that the people of the world were sick of it, and that we feel a real effort must be made to tackle the difficult international problems. This would be a long journey, it would require a great effort, and we do not know what the results will be. Certainly, we shall need to keep our guard up. But the ROC should realize that this move has met with great approval throughout the world and that this places great pressure on Peking to respond.
- Shen expressed deep concern over the lack of prior consultations. He observed that the US did consult on the question of recognition of Outer Mongolia. He, therefore, found it difficult to understand why we had not consulted on this far more important development. He stressed the importance of this aspect by saying that if he himself found this hard to understand, how much more difficult will it be for the officials in Taipei. With some annoyance he asked whether the lack of prior consultations could be considered normal diplomatic practice and he again wondered aloud where we would go from here.
- In response Green reiterated that this move was not an unfriendly act and that it was wrong to view it as such. He said we understood the problems and difficulties posed for the ROC, and we do not sacrifice our friends; in fact our record was second to none in the world in that regard. We have an obligation to the people of the United States and of the world to seek peace, but it would not be peace at any price. It will probably be a long journey and its outcome is not assured. It took great courage to accept the risks involved in starting it. But a start was necessary and it has been now made. We hope this effort succeeds because much is riding on it.
- Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 1 CHICOM–US. Secret; Immediate. Repeated to Tokyo, Hong Kong, USUN, the White House, and San Clemente. Drafted by L. R. Starbird (EA/ROC) and approved by Green.↩
- Initial ROC reaction to the President’s announcement, including the first official statement, made by Vice President Yen, is in telegram 3493 from Taipei, July 16; ibid., POL 1 CHICOM–US. A report on public demonstrations outside the U.S. Embassy is in telegram 3570 from Taipei, July 21; ibid., POL 23–8 CHINAT, and media reactions are detailed in telegram 3571 from Taipei, July 21; ibid., POL 1 CHICOM–US. McConaughy wrote: “Reaction to President’s announcement indicates pattern of restraint on part of GRC and has involved numerous expressions of desire and necessity for maintaining good working relations with US.” (Telegram 3572 from Taipei, July 21; ibid.) Rogers met with Shen on July 19, as reported in telegram 130330 to Taipei. (Ibid., POL 17 CHINAT–US). They discussed Kissinger’s trip and Chinese representation in the UN.↩
- Telegrams 3470 and 3491 from Taipei, July 16 and 17, detail McConaughy’s meeting with Yang. (Ibid., POL 1 CHICOM–US)↩