276. Memorandum From the Deputy Director of Chinese Affairs, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs (Howarth) to the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs (Brown)1


  • Your Meeting on the US Contribution to UNFPA, 2:00 PM, Wednesday, May 22


1. To elicit from Derham a review of how AID is approaching the question of the US contribution to UNFPA, particularly as it pertains to the China program.3

2. To sensitize Derham to the repercussions of any procedure that would discriminate against the Chinese.

3. To request that AID proceed no further in discussions with UNFPA toward a “special trust fund”4 until we have had opportunity to review the merits of the UNFPA proposal.5

[Page 775]

4. To fix on an approach toward final resolution of this issue. If Derham does not agree today to drop the “special trust fund” concept, we should suggest that another meeting be convened after working levels have had opportunity to review the merits of the UNFPA China program.


You agreed to meet with AID Acting Assistant Administrator Dick Derham, at his suggestion, to discuss the US contribution to UNFPA—particularly as it relates to the China program. A chronology of developments that led up to this meeting and a brief discussion of the issue follow.


1. Wednesday, April 25. AID Acting Administrator Richard Derham met with OES Ambassador Richard Benedick and IO Assistant Secretary Gregory Newell at Newell’s office to discuss handling of the US contribution to the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA), including the China program. We requested an invitation to the meeting but were refused by Derham’s office.

(We have been informed that this meeting focused primarily on adverse media reaction that has appeared in the last several weeks to the AID contribution to UNFPA (WSJ editorial attached at Tab 1).6 It examined secondarily the impact on our UN participation of setting up any kind of “special trust fund”. It ignored totally, according to our sources, any discussion of the diplomatic fall-out from the Chinese that such a fund is certain to provoke.)

2. Wednesday, April 25. AID Administrator Peter McPherson met privately with UNFPA Executive Director to discuss the UNFPA proposal, particularly the difficulty AID expects to encounter on the Hill in defending the China program. Derham later joined in that discussion.

3. Thursday, April 26. You called AID Administrator Peter McPherson to express our concern about reports that the AID contribution to UNFPA might be placed in a “special trust fund” that would insulate the US contribution from support of China’s family planning activities.

4. We sent out a cable to Beijing, info USUN,7 which alerted the Presidential party to these developments in the event that the Chinese might already have gotten wind of them through the UNFPA staff. AID cleared this cable (attached at Tab 2).8 Other major objectives of this cable, along with your telephone call to McPherson, were to educate [Page 776]AID to the diplomatic dimension of the issue, to emphasize our concern about the action already taken by AID without informing us, and the importance of working together toward a mutually satisfactory resolution of the problem.


The UNFPA program proposal calls for a $50 million contribution to China for the period 1985–89. UNFPA is presently completing its first major package of assistance to China—also for $50 million—begun in 1980.

In addressing concerns raised by Senator Helms last spring,9 we informed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the UNFPA does not encourage projects in abortion-related fields, was not involved in financing any abortion-related activity in China, and had never been involved in any programs of coerced abortions.10

  1. Source: Department of State, Country Files, Miscellaneous Population Files, 1974–1992, Lot 93D393, China/UNFPA 1984. Confidential.
  2. No record of this meeting has been found.
  3. Reference is to China’s birth control policies.
  4. In telegram 154100 to Beijing, May 24, the Department wrote: “AID had sought to ramrod through its original proposal—establishment of a special trust fund which would have the effect of denying U.S. money to any UNFPA program in China—without including EAP officers in the key meetings and without benefit of prior consultation with Ambassador Kirkpatrick.” (Department of State, Central Foreign Policy File, D840340–0008)
  5. In telegram 124190 to Beijing and New York, April 27, the Department discussed the UNFPA proposal. (Department of State, Central Foreign Policy File, N840006–0316)
  6. Not attached. See “Paying for Abortions,” Wall Street Journal, April 9, 1984, p. 34.
  7. See footnote 5, above.
  8. Not attached.
  9. Not further identified.
  10. In a May 15 memorandum of conversation with Salas, Mousky, and Benedick, Derham stressed “that either AID must examine every UNFPA project in detail in order to certify that there is no support for abortion or forced sterilization, or the U.S. contribution to UNFPA must be segregated in a separate trust fund account.” (Department of State, Country Files, Miscellaneous Population Files, 1974–1992, Lot 93D393, China/UNFPA 1984)