7. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in the Republic of China1

30229. Subject: Ambassador Shen; Meeting With Under Secretary Habib.

1. In February 9 call on Under Secretary Habib, ROC Ambassador Shen, under instructions, complained with obvious feeling about recent USG statements and actions on the China issue, including the Secretary’s definition of normalization as ultimately the establishment of [Page 29] diplomatic relations with the ROC [ PRC ]. Following mention of the Secretary’s January 31 statement that normalization was under intensive review,2 Shen specifically requested that the ROC be consulted, not just informed, on any matters affecting its existing relations with the US. He warned that any discussions with the PRC on normalization would have serious repercussions on the ROC and on the peace of the Pacific region. While expressing appreciation for the Secretary’s remarks about the importance to the US of the security of the people of Taiwan, he noted ROC disappointment over the absence of any reference by the new administration to existing US–ROC diplomatic and security ties. He asked that at an early time the new administration reaffirm its intention to maintain these ties, as did previous administrations on several occasions both publicly and privately.

2. Habib replied that the basic thrust of statements by the administration on China was reaffirmation of the Shanghai Communique. There was nothing new in this. The US would, of course, engage in appropriate discussions with the ROC on matters affecting its important interests. However, it would not be appropriate to deal with the ROC request in off-hand fashion. These were specific and important matters and they deserved careful consideration, including review by the Secretary. Habib promised a reply prior to the Secretary’s departure February 14 for the Middle East.

3. Shen then spoke of how ROC hopes for the new administration had been shaken by the Secretary’s statements. The ROC was profoundly disappointed in seeing the Shanghai Communique, an agreement between disgraced and dead heads of state, being treated as a binding agreement more solemn than the US–ROC Treaties of Friendship, Commerce and Navigation and Mutual Defense.3 He complained strongly of the lack of response to his request of two weeks ago for a meeting with the Secretary, noting that the effectiveness of an Ambassador depends on access to the Secretary and President and that reciprocity was also involved. He thereupon asked for a rundown of the President’s meeting with Huang Chen.4

4. Following mention of the Secretary’s busy schedule in the early weeks of the administration, Habib stated that he had not yet seen an [Page 30] account of the President’s meeting with Huang Chen. There was also the additional question of whether it would be appropriate for us to reveal the contents of a meeting of this nature. Shen asked whether Ambassador Unger would be affected by the transition. Habib said there were no plans in this respect. Shen said he would like to call on Messrs Holbrooke and Lake at an early time. Habib promised to pass on these requests. Upon departure, Shen left an aide-mémoire conveying the essential points of his presentation which will be pouched to addressees.5

5. Comment: We are in process preparing our response to Shen. Would appreciate by immediate cable any thoughts Embassy Taipei may have in handling his approach.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P850106–1822. Secret; Immediate; Nodis. Drafted by Levin (EA/ROC), cleared by Gleysteen (EA), and approved by Habib. Repeated Priority to Beijing.
  2. During his news conference on January 31, Vance said, “I have stated that insofar as our bilateral relations are concerned, we will proceed on the basis of the principles enunciated in the Shanghai communiqué, that with respect to the pace and the mode of reaching normalization, this is a matter which we have under intensive review.” (Department of State Bulletin, February 21, 1977, p. 142)
  3. The Treaty of Friendship, Commerce, and Navigation between the United States and the Republic of China was signed on November 4, 1946, and came into force on November 20, 1948.
  4. See Document 5.
  5. Not found.