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247. Telegram From the Embassy in the Philippines to the Department of State 1

1997. Subj Green–Holdridge Meeting with President Marcos.

Summary: Assistant Secretary Green’s2 meeting with top GOP leadership was well-nigh indispensable if we are to halt snowballing erosion of Philippine confidence in U.S. Asia policy and reliability U.S.–Philippine relationships. Exchange of views was brisk and penetrating, with questions to Green reflecting deep anxieties of Philippine officialdom and public. Visit greatly appreciated by Marcos and extremely helpful here whether or not it proves to have been an enduring corrective.

Green met with President Marcos for over two hours morning March 4, accompanied by John Holdridge, Consul General Osborn, and Ambassador. Marcos had present General Romulo, Finance Secretary Virata, Executive Secretary Melchor, and two DFA officials.
After brief exchange of warm and friendly greetings during photography, Marcos launched immediately (before Green was even able to convey President Nixon’s and Secretary Rogers’ greetings, which he did later) into series of pointed questions related to implications of President’s Peking visit and the communiqué for future U.S. policy and behavior toward East Asia and most specifically Taiwan and the Philippines. It was more than an hour before any curiosity was expressed as to Chinese side of the coin or Chinese views on particular issues and problems. Main themes are summarized:
Marcos asked first about an apparent contradiction between U.S. acceptance that Taiwan is an internal Chinese problem and Dr. Kissinger’s reaffirmation of U.S. defense commitment to GRC. In the ensuing discussion both Marcos and Romulo had considerable difficulty distinguishing between Marcos’ formulation and the communiqué language of “acknowledging” and “not challenging” the view of Chinese on both sides of the Strait. Green carefully explained deliberate U.S. decision to leave undetermined position on “One China”, “Two Chinas”, “One China—One Taiwan”, etc. It became apparent Romulo had not really understood, through period of UNGA debate on admission of PRC, the deliberate care in wording of U.S. position on dual [Page 527]representation. This lack of understanding accounts for his recent feelings that he had been betrayed by what he saw as U.S. switch from “Two Chinas”—a position he had supported vigorously in UN—to what he has considered new “One China” stance.
Marcos then asked whether U.S. would challenge actions taken by PRC in accordance with its stated policy on Taiwan—”Tell us your intentions; Taiwan is only 92 miles north of Bosco” (northermost point in Philippines). Green reviewed President’s interest and efforts since 1967 through series of careful steps to find a way to deal with the reality of China, to remove barriers to trade and travel, to avoid Cold War rhetoric, to remove tensions in area and show PRC we are not trying to threaten or isolate them. He said it has been made clear throughout that U.S. would stand by its commitments to GRC, and this had been stated again while on the Mainland. He noted his belief that Peking does not, in any event, want the U.S. withdrawal from Asia its propaganda has demanded while Peking’s problems with USSR and Japan are viewed so seriously. Green stressed the importance of some means for dealing with day-to-day problems, which sterile Warsaw talks had failed to provide, and argued that communiqué reflects major gain of taking pressure off U.S. on recognition issue. Achievements of visit, he concluded, are what we need at this time and have been obtained without undercutting U.S. or free Asian interests in this area.
Pursuing his effort to pin down the U.S. intentions, Marcos asked what will happen to Taiwan in the long run. He asked Green to convey to USG his government’s belief that Philippines must prepare for the worst, that within ten years Taiwan will be part of Communist China. He said this would threaten Philippine survival and conditions may deteriorate to the point GOP will have to adopt options it would not like. Green said he considered this line of reasoning unnecessary. The GRC is in a strong position, with outlook for trade and investment and economic progress good in comparison with PRC. Green referred to his talks in Taiwan, saying GRC leaders naturally not happy but that they understand our reasons and their situation and prospects are not bad. He made comparison with PRC which faces internal difficulties and severe external problems. Green sought to reassure Marcos with respect to continuity of U.S. concern for Philippines and other Asian friends, evoking special heritage U.S.-Philippine relations, quoting from President’s foreign policy report on pillars of U.S. Asian policy and noting these have been reaffirmed since visit, and declaring U.S. prepared to stand on its record compared with all nations in history in living up to its undertakings. Marcos pursued his contention that communiqué says U.S. will let time solve the problem of Taiwan without interfering and referred to evidence he has that investors on Taiwan are offering to move holdings to Philippines, Singapore and elsewhere. Green referred to conversations in Japan and Korea, where similar concerns [Page 528]have been expressed, and said he felt, and our embassies have subsequently reported, that leaders there now understand and are satisfied with our policy. Green stated that our willingness to accept some future settlement between PRC and GRC did not mean that we are apathetic, noting military aid and diplomatic relations would continue. Ambassador noted tendency of public opinion to ignore military reality that GRC forces are large and strong and 7th fleet “remains out in front.”
Question from Romulo about communiqué statement on reduction of forces on Taiwan led Green to reaffirm the statement, noting it is consistent with Nixon Doctrine and that ultimate withdrawal is expressly contingent on peaceful resolution of problem. He referred to information previously conveyed by Ambassador on force deployments, assured Marcos this position still stands and said USG would try to repeat this kind of consultation from time to time. He said core elements will remain on Taiwan until settlement, which may well take many years. Green confirmed, in response to President’s question, that U.S. PRC and GRC cannot settle differences peacefully, but expressed some confidence its contingency not real in light of Peking record since costly Korean conflict of avoiding adventuristic actions. He noted evidence including fact of President’s visit that Peking wants some form of relations with U.S., making them less likely to prejudice own interests by resort to violence against Taiwan. Green expressed confidence we are on right track pursuing President’s effort to escalate toward peace rather than war.
Regarding prospects for U.S.–PRC formal relations, Green suggested this not likely soon because Peking won’t agree while U.S.–PRC relations are preserved. Green reiterated U.S. has obtained its short term objective, that visits by representatives may in actuality be better than a resident mission unable to operate in traditional fashion, in response to question whether he would not soon establish a Chargé in Peking and “commercial” representation in Taipei in British fashion.
When Green stated SEATO not affected by China developments, Romulo asked skeptically whether U.S. would still apply Article IV which is limited to “Communist aggression”, “now that you are friends.” Green said there has been no change and U.S. has record to prove we mean what we say. This exchange led on to discussion of the incorporation of the “five principles.” Green noted principles had always been unexceptionable, though propaganda environment at Bandung had precluded U.S. acceptance in 1950s, and suggested we gain in capacity to hold Peking to performance if we and Peking have stated our agreed support for five principles. This caused Romulo to refer to “U.S. interference” in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, and Green to respond with specific reference to U.S. action in response to legitimate Cambodian call for help, including citation of even Sihanouk’s October 1969 [Page 529]complaint of North Vietnamese aggression. When ousted, Sihanouk was in fact enroute to Moscow and Peking for very purpose of seeking their restraint on Hanoi’s agression.
Discussion of U.S. bases in Philippines in this full meeting was brief, with Green stating in response to question there has been no short or long range change in our assessment of their importance. Marcos said he had asked Adm. McCain to obtain position on future of bases from Washington. Green affirmed that U.S.-Philippine relationship is unimpaired and he would so state to press on departure. Marcos expressed appreciation, noting irresponsible opposition effort in his Congress and consititutional convention on this issue.
To request for U.S. position of ASEAN neutralization proposal, Green said it is question for Southeast Asians to decide, U.S. considering it a worthy objective but noting many problems including establishment of adequate strength and stability to make it work.
Marcos expressed concern about Communist subversion.3 Green acknowledged this is still a competitive world, said U.S. does not believe everything Peking says and will remain on its mettle and alert. Consul General Osborn noted that Peking frequently opts for diplomatic rather than military means of pressure when choice exists, and Green suggested they likely will increasingly conclude that sponsorship of national liberation movements is not useful. Marcos repeated his misgivings, looking ahead 10–20 years, and Green agreed it is important we all maintain adequate strength. He noted that overwhelming popular support in United States for President’s China policy should strengthen his hand in Congress for totality of Pres. Nixon’s policies and programs including adequate military aid.
Even after the foregoing and more, Marcos returned to theme that he had to find out exactly where we stand. Southeast Asian leaders expect him to be in the know about U.S. policy, “but I am not.” He said, “If your policy is to withdraw from Asia, just inform us.” Green responded that the President had personally charged him at end of China visit to convey to Asian friends and allies that U.S. is not going to leave western Pacific but rather find right way to remain. He said we should be and act confident, that Peking might be hypocritical but we stand to gain to extent Peking follows norms of international behavior. Urgent problems of environment, population, seabeds, and outer space cannot be dealt with on global basis without including China.
Romulo initiated discussion on related economic questions, asking whether U.S. will shoot for retention of GRC in World Bank; Green said U.S. will do what it can to support China in international financial institutions. Virata expressed concern about Phil problem in IMF should GRC be dropped and Green said he believed U.S. should give strong support. Virata requested U.S. decision as soon as possible. Similar concern expressed about ADB, particularly as it is located in Manila. Concerning trade, GOP leaders were informed PRC will henceforth be subject to same restrictions as USSR and that we judge trade will be limited and develop only slowly.
Toward end of discussion, Phils inquired about:
Peking view of Japan (we said Peking very worried about revival of militarism, though in fact internal restraints in Japan against militarism remain very strong);
Whether China still thinks in terms of encirclement (yes, but Soviets have replaced U.S. as number one threat and China may begin to perceive advantages in our overall posture of involvement);
PRC naval development (not yet a blue water navy). Phils asked about following subjects which were identified as not having been discussed during Peking visit: the ASEAN neutralization concept; Quemoy and Matsu; seabeds; and the ADB.
Marcos took Green away for half hour’s private chat (septels). Interval provided opportunity for remaining group to elaborate a number of points previously raised (e.g., dual representation). Romulo came around to agree that U.S. and GOP position on Taiwan are the same, when it was stated we favor peaceful solution to be worked out by Chinese but will not yield to a forcible settlement.
As Marcos walked back with Green from private talk, he said the meeting had been useful, that it is obvious we are on same wave length, and that he was grateful to the President for sending Green to visit.
Comment: Embassy will forward fuller assessment after reactions to entire visit are registered. In brief, however, it is clear to us that the deep doubts and suspicions Marcos aired are real, shared within GOP as well as in increasingly noisy public discussion here. The reported misunderstandings and disbelief were undoubtedly somewhat exaggerated for test purposes and in an effort by Marcos to gather ammunition for use with critics and doubters. Secretary Green gave him plenty.
Dept repeat as appropriate.
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 7 US/GREEN. Secret; Priority; Exdis. Repeated to Saigon for Green.
  2. Green traveled to Southeast Asia in March 1972 to explain the Nixon administration’s China policy in light of the President’s trip to China and the joint U.S.-Chinese communiqué on Taiwan and East Asia.
  3. Telegram 1990 from Manila, March 4, reported Green’s conversation with Marcos about Governor Romualdez’s trip to China, in which the latter queried Chou En-lai about Chinese support of Maoist forces in the Philippines. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL US)