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Forum LockedUK-US differences over PRC in UN!

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    Posted: 03-Feb-2009 at 19:25

  

…Hello everyone…

 

…I am part of the way through reading a book by Qiang Zhai called The Dragon, the Lion, and the Eagle: Chinese-British-American Relations, 1949-1958 (Kent State University Press, Kent, Ohio) 1994…which is by the way, an excellent, informative tome and very well explained….there are many interesting topics covered by this book and any number of single instances that provide food for thought….

 

..however, I would just like to share a brief outline of one set of circumstances that I found quite intriguing and it features the nature of Anglo-American differences over representation of the People's Republic of China in the United Nations in 1950...Given that the United Kingdom and the United States have been, and are generally viewed as compliant bedfellows, it was fascinating to see that the two countries adopted competing approaches to Chinese representation in the United Nations….    

 

….On January 13th 1950, the Soviet Union put forward a resolution requesting the ejection of the Chinese Nationalist (Kuomintang/KMT) representative from the United Nations Security Council. The motion was defeated with the United States casting a negative vote and Great Britain abstaining. Britain had been trying to establish formal diplomatic links with the People's Republic of China ever since London had recognised the creation of Mao’s new regime in the same year. Britain saw PRC representation as a way forward in Anglo-Chinese relations…..The Beijing government were unhappy with Britain’s decision to abstain from voting  even though London explained that ‘abstention did not indicate support for the KMT’ over the People's Republic of China (p.100)….

 

….In March 1950, Britain made attempts to break the impasse and secure PRC representation by working ‘behind the scenes to secure a majority on the issue of admitting the People's Republic of China into the United Nations’ (p.100). It was believed that the task would be made easier by the fact that five out of the thirteen members of the Security Council had already recognised the People's Republic of China. These countries were the USSR, India, Yugoslavia, Great Britain, and Norway. Earnest Bevin, Foreign Secretary in Attlee's Labour government, instructed diplomats to approach Egypt, Ecuador, and Cuba to try to persuade them to cast a positive in the next round of voting. Nonetheless, Bevin understood quite clearly that any success would depend on the United States. However, Washington was also preparing their own manoeuvres by putting pressure on other countries to prevent the formation of a majority vote in favour of admitting the PRC into the United Nations….

 

…..The US State Department, through their Ambassador, sent a memorandum to the Ecuadorian Foreign Office requesting that Ecuador should consider put off the breaking of relations with the KMT, pointing out that the cessation of relations with the KMT may have ‘important effects’ in relation to Soviet efforts to unseat the KMT representative (pp.100-101).

 

...Britain and the United States found themselves directly involved in competing diplomatic manoeuvres in order to secure what both felt were the best solution to each countries problem…. Even though the UN Secretary General Trygve Lie was unhappy at United States pressure, and concerned that Moscow might quit the United Nations, and with the People's Republic of China establish a ‘rival world organisation,’ the British failed to secure a majority in the Security Council in favour of admitting China because of American opposition….

 

…In June 1950, the British government decided to take a more drastic step and support China’s admission by casting a positive in the next round of voting...However, the onset of hostilities in Korea meant that this did not take place and the whole issue was put aside for the time being (p.101)……Nevertheless, the British continued to try to resolve the problem despite American objections that the issue could not be approached until the end of the fighting in Korea…the Soviet Union had approached the British government with a proposal to end the war, but the US argued that Moscow would use the initiative to seek Western agreement on PRC entry into the United Nations (p.101-102)…for the United States, the two issues could not be separated…However, Bevin and Attlee believed that the Korean conflict and Chinese admittance into the United Nations were unrelated and that the representation issue could be considered separately (p.102)…

 

...On September 19th 1950, in the fifth Session of the General Assembly, Zhou En-lai put forward a request to have the KMT delegate replaced by PRC representatives….Adopting their new approach, the British voted for an Indian resolution to admit the People's Republic of China into the United Nations…However, Britain abstained from voting for a motion that called for the expulsion of the KMT representative…. Both resolutions were defeated…. (p.103) …The Chinese were not impressed by Britain’s positive vote and thought London’s’ abstention on the Soviet resolution a ‘demonstration of British duplicity’ (p.104)….

 

…Britain continued to vote for China’s place in the United Nations until the middle of 1951 when Washington proposed a suspension on any discussions relating to the Chinese representation, and for a number of reasons, Britain decided to support the United States proposal (p.104)….The British initiatives failed to provide any constructive results in their efforts to establish diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China, but in trying, they caused a considerable degree of discord in UK- US relations….

 

..it is interesting to note that some twenty years later, Sino-American rapprochement would effectively adopt British policy circa 1949-50…

 
...just to provide a bit of historical tangibility...the very subject being talked about in the British Parliament...

House of commons Debate 24th May 1950

‘Far East and South-East Asia’

(Hansard)

 

Earnest Bevin

“Then the question has been raised of our failure to vote for admission of the representative of the Peoples Government to the United Nations; that is the second point. As far as I know, there are only two. When we recognised the new Government we felt that its admission to the United Nations ought to be dealt with in the Security Council according to the rules. However, we could not in the transition period come to a conclusion to throw out one representative and to take on another. I think that the sponsors of the new Chinese Government have  really created the present difficulty, for the first thing that happened was that Russia walked out because at the immediate moment of recognition we were not ready to admit a new Chinese representative and we had not completed our negotiations for the establishment of diplomatic relations with the new Government of China. We had simply announced that we were ready to negotiate the establishment of diplomatic relations, and the Soviet Government then sought to force us to implement what they regarded as the consequences before these negotiations were completed.”

 

“America, with all her feeling with regard to China, has in my view adopted a very fair attitude. She says, "We will not vote for. We will not veto," which I think is a very good decision for a country with feelings like those of the United States. But they say, "If there are seven members who vote for, then we will accept the decision." Two of the members Russia is keeping off the council by refusing to function; one is herself. There are five already and there is this stagnating of the United Nations as Russia herself has placed herself in this rather embarrassing position. We have tried, quite frankly, to see if we could get this cleared up by seeing whether seven votes could be collected, our main object being that we think it is better for the New China to be inside the United Nations. We do not want to ostracise anyone on political grounds. We believe that future association for these countries which are emerging is a good thing, and we are proceeding on that basis.”

 

“The British interests in China have been hurt more by that than by what the Communists have done. The Communists have taxed them, charged them and done all sorts of things, but I think that in all probability their difficulties could have been got over if the blockade had not been put in operation. The United States are as much opposed to it as we are and we think that with that great country, after these years of civil wars and strife, we all ought now to co-operate, to give China a chance. I cannot believe that all the Chinese have gone Communist overnight as is suggested.”

 

Link to Bevin speeches 

 

..anyway, I thought it was interesting…all the best..AoO…

 

 

 



Edited by Act of Oblivion - 03-Feb-2009 at 21:35
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Sparten Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03-Feb-2009 at 20:16
At the time Britain still had extensive colonial commitments in the Far East and could  ill afford to antagonise China.
 
A bit like today, when Chinese have cash and Britain needs them.
The Germans also take vacations in Paris; especially during the periods they call "blitzkrieg".
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Act of Oblivion Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03-Feb-2009 at 21:32
Originally posted by Sparten Sparten wrote:

At the time Britain still had extensive colonial commitments in the Far East and could  ill afford to antagonise China.
 
A bit like today, when Chinese have cash and Britain needs them.
 
....Hello Sparten..
 
....that is correct, although to be fair, British diplomatic recognition of the PRC was in part, accorded to protect existing economic prosperity (British business already in China and of course Hong Kong) not just the potential acquisition of future markets in China...
 
....regarding colonial commitments, the fear was not direct Chinese aggression, but the indirect promotion of Communism in the Far East and South-East Asia in general...antagonising the PRC was not thought to be risking military confrontation with the Red Army, but instead, more likely to encourage morale of Communists in other countries deemed important to British overseas and financial interests...Malaya, Borneo etc.....it was believed that keeping Western diplomatic contact with China would be one method of 'containing' communism and pursuading the CCP that dealing with the West would be preferable to dealing with the Soviet Union...which of course was exactly the opposite of American thinking...the US felt non-recognition would attain the same results....British financial security in the region was only one area of concern in the emerging context of the Cold War....
 
..all the best...AoO.. 


Edited by Act of Oblivion - 03-Feb-2009 at 21:37
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Sparten Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-Feb-2009 at 02:36
That is true. The thing is that the US and UK followed often contradictory policies in the Far East; at least until the general end of British rule there in 1960's. Compare and contrast the level of cooperation in the Pacific, where the war aims were seperate (and one could say, conflicting) as opposed to ETO.
 
 
The Germans also take vacations in Paris; especially during the periods they call "blitzkrieg".
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