Two Chinas

Ambassador Goldberg's speech at the United Nations on Thursday contained an eloquent and conciliatory summary of this country's proposals to Hanoi for ending the war in Vietnam. In reaffirming publicly the U.S.'s offer, already made privately, for step-by-step de-escalation, the speech reinforced the credibility of the proposals, and put pressure on the North Vietnamese to accept them.

And yet, coupled with this reaffirmation of our wish for peace in Asia, was Goldberg's strong restatement of our opposition to the admission of Red China to the U.N. Although he made much of American efforts to restore "historically friendly relations with the great people of China," the ambassador promised that the U.S. will oppose giving the Chinese a seat so long as their "stated program" is to "transform the world by violence." By failing to adopt the two-China policy, which would allow Red China to enter on the condition that it recognized the equal right of Nationalist China to membership, the U.S. has missed a valuable opportunity to modify its policy.

The two-China policy would achieve this country's objective of keeping the Chinese out of the world organization, since the Red Chinese have insisted that they are the only legitimate government in China, and have refused to join so long as the Taiwan government is represented. But the two-China policy would have two advantages over our present position. First, it would put the blame for Red China's exclusion squarely on Peking--where it belongs--far more convincingly than all the rhetoric about the communists' programs to "transform the world by violence." And second, it would allow the U.S. to accept the admission of Red China much more gracefully than our present policy, if such a shift ever becomes necessary. The U.S. may have the votes to keep Peking out this year, but the declining majorities in recent years shows that in the long run support for our policy is waning.

The close vote last year--47 to 47 on whether the resolution to admit Red China needed a majority to pass--apparently frightened the Administration into reevaluating the present policy over the summer. During his recent trip to Taiwan Secretary of State Rusk warned the Nationalists that a change in policy might be necessary in the next session. Ambassador Goldberg said late in August that the government was actively reexamining its admission policy. In background briefings to major newspapers, top-level officials indicated that the policy would be altered this session.

But at the beginning of September, after the beginning of China's domestic upheaval, the Administration recounted its votes, and discovered that the Red Guards had frightened many countries back into the U.S. camp. Confident that he had the votes to defeat admission Rusk demurely announced that the U.S. had no intention of changing its stand.

Rusk's arguments, of course, were somewhat more sophisticated than those of John Foster Dulles, who opened each year's anti-admission campaign with a lecture on the unsavory credentials of the few willful men in Peking tyrannizing a nation of millions. Rusk pointed out that the Communist Chinese have decided to act as "a major obstacle" to a settlement of the war in Vietnam, and that it was bad psychology to reward them with a seat in the Assembly.

As in his arguments on Vietnam, Rusk emphasized the necessity for honoring commitments. He has promised the nationalists that the U.S. will keep the communists out. And he refuses to break that commitment until the world leaves him no other choice. Disagreeing with most China experts, he saw little point in welcoming a nation that has refused the offered terms. The State Department prefrs not to take the edge off the fear and distrust of China stirred up in the rest of the world by the recent chaos and defiant oratory on the mainland.

Despite the Department's rhetoric about increasing contracts with Peking, opposition to Red China's admission adds strength to the convictions of the Red Chinese leaders that this country is irrevocably bent on destroying the Chinese People's Republic. Modifying the present position would not entirely dispel these beliefs, but some China experts argue that a few more active gestures toward the communists may yet help the moderates who are getting the worst of it in China's current upheaval. And the modification would certainly be consistent with Secretary Rusk's hope that the West will "break through the walls of isolation that Peking has built around itself." It is ridiculous, moreover, to connect the Vietnam War with granting the Red Chinese admission to the U.N., an organization that could play a major part in engineering a solution.

No one could assume that the two-China policy would be accepted immediately by the Nationalists or the communists especially in view of the difficulty of deciding who will sit in China's permanent seat on the Security Council. But the policy remains the strongest alternative to the policy of categorical non-admission.