194. Summary of Conclusions of a Special Coordination Committee Meeting1


David Aaron chaired the meeting. The group spent most of the meeting on the various Congressional issues now confronting us:

The Omnibus Legislation: A bill has been prepared and has cleared the inter-agency process. Cosmetically, the final product is not particularly attractive, since a substantial portion of the bill deals with complicated Civil Service issues concerning the rank, career, health benefits and retirement plans available to government personnel who will serve temporarily in the private organization in Taiwan. After hard questioning of the lawyers, we concluded that there was no alternative but to proceed with the bill which has grown to some ten pages in length, over half of which deals with Civil Service issues. We made minor adjustments to the bill, particularly to remove references to “uniformed personnel” who might serve in our private organization. The bill will now come to us for final clearance before submission to the Hill.

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Dates for Woodcock Hearing: The Woodcock hearings have been tentatively set for February 7 and 8.2 We thought it wise not to have the hearings during the Teng visit. But all agreed that we should move expeditiously on Woodcock, in part because this will be the first test of China policy and we should win easily, and secondly, a strong victory should convince Taiwan that their strength is limited.

JacksonVanik: Word is unfortunately beginning to get around that we are considering attempting to change JacksonVanik. The NSC will submit language throughout the bureaucracy to clarify that we have no present intent to alter JacksonVanik,3 and that our only purpose is to expand trade with both China and the Soviet Union, and we will do this in consultation with Congress.

The meeting also assessed our negotiations with Taiwan, where no progress is now being made. Taiwan still hopes for a government-to-government relationship, and is hoping that either we will back down at the last minute or a remedy can be found in Congress. March 1 is show-down day, for without legislation, and without Taiwan agreement to proceed on an unofficial basis, our private organization will not be able to function. The meeting agreed that we must continue to convey to Taiwan the sense that we will not back down, although as the deadline approaches, the business community is likely to get nervous.

The group considered whether we should seek legislation to extend diplomatic privileges and immunities to Taiwan personnel in their unofficial organization here. We decided we would continue on our present course, not seeking such legislation. It is almost certain that such legislation will pass the Congress.

On other matters, Justice will file its brief and appropriate affidavits in response to the Goldwater suit in mid-February or perhaps during the Teng visit. The deadline for filing is in late February.4

We will meet next week on a whole range of DOD matters relating to DOD activities in Taiwan.

  1. Source: Carter Library, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box 58, ADH 006, 1/17/79, Ad Hoc SCC, China. Confidential. When Aaron received the Summary of Conclusions from Oksenberg, he requested that Oksenberg also “prepare a 4 or 5 sentence paragraph summarizing the highlights of the meeting for submission to the President tonight as a daily report item.” (Memorandum from Gates to Oksenberg, January 18; Carter Library, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box 58, ADH 006, 1/17/79, Ad Hoc SCC, China.)
  2. Reference is to Congressional hearings on the nomination of Woodcock to be the first U.S. Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China. On February 26, the Senate confirmed Woodcock’s nomination, 82–9.
  3. Someone, probably Aaron, underlined “present” and wrote “immediate” above it.
  4. Senator Barry Goldwater (R–Arizona) and 24 colleagues filed suit in Federal court alleging that unless the Senate approved, the President lacked authority to terminate U.S. participation in international treaties. Since Carter was not seeking Senate approval, this lawsuit might have prevented the expiration, after one year’s notice, of the 1954 U.S.–ROC Mutual Defense Treaty. Although a district court upheld Goldwater’s position on October 17, a circuit court of appeals overturned the lower court on November 30, arguing that Carter, acting on his own, did possess authority to end the treaty. On December 13, the U.S. Supreme Court, on a 7–2 vote, dismissed Goldwater’s suit, thereby upholding the court of appeals and allowing the Mutual Defense Treaty with Taiwan to expire. See Congress and the Nation vol. V, 1977–1980, p. 101.