December 5, 1969
Note on the Conversation between the Honourable Minister and the Canadian Minister for Foreign Affairs Sharp, at NATO in Brussels
This document was made possible with support from MacArthur Foundation
Note on the conversation between the Honourable Minister [Aldo Moro] and the Canadian Minister for Foreign Affairs [Mitchell] Sharp, at NATO in Brussels, December 5, 1969 at 9:30 am.
After the customary courtesies, the Honourable Minister began the exchange of views on the ongoing negotiations regarding recognition of the People's Republic of China.
M[oro] - I would like to mention some points of the ongoing negotiations that seem to be proceeding in parallel. I am not yet in a position to give information on the joint meeting that took place yesterday in Paris, but I intend to inform you as soon as possible of the results of this. However, the latest talks held by Ambassador Malfatti took place in a favorable atmosphere. The Chinese did not seem to be overly uncompromising on the points that still divide us and in particular on the request for open and prior recognition of their position on Formosa.
We insisted on the idea of a statement similar to the French one, and on the exchange of ambassadors. If necessary we could also accept the additional recognition of the Beijing government as the sole representative of China. In a subsequent comment, we could state that this entails an interruption in relations with Taiwan.
In essence, our action is mainly aimed at a press communiqué like the French one and, as a second line of negotiation, we have conceived (but not yet discussed with the Chinese) of the concept of a sole representative and the indication of an interruption in relations. For now, however, we are still at the communiqué stage.
SHARP - I am aware that our positions are parallel. We too are discussing a communiqué like the French one; among other things, we are prepared to move ahead on the recognition of Beijing as China's sole representative. However, we are against going that far, and allowing Beijing to state that Canada recognizes its rights over Taiwan. We are ready to: 1) limit ourselves to a French-style communiqué, or; 2) release a communiqué that goes as far as including Beijing's recognition as the sole representative of China; 3)agree a verbal process with the Chinese in addition to the communiqué describing the positions of the two governments.
M - It is a hypothesis that we have considered as well, but very realistically, I must say that if a French-style communiqué is followed by the break with Taiwan and we vote in favor of the Albanian motion, in practice we are giving, without explicitly acknowledging it, what the Chinese are demanding. The discussion regards words that will certainly be followed, in actual fact, by the acceptance of what Beijing requests.
The ideal solution would be that of keeping Taiwan in the UN, as a non-Chinese country, but this hypothesis is unrealistic. Let's use the necessary resistance to prevent them from obtaining the formal recognition of Chinese sovereignty over Taiwan; however, we should not be deceived: our ultimate action will not be what the Beijing government is asking for.
SHARP - I agree. We have accepted the implications of this eventuality. We have clearly said that as a consequence of the exchange of diplomatic representatives there will be a break with Taiwan, but we have doubts regarding a vote for the Albanian motion. Indeed, there is actually a lot of confusion: the Americans believe that we want to expel Taiwan from the UN, while Canada will simply recognize that China is represented by Beijing and not by Taiwan. In the end, both Beijing and Taiwan agree on one thing, namely that they represent the same state entity, China.
M - I agree, but unfortunately the Albanian motion exists and this time we too pulled back at the last moment. Unfortunately, the road to be followed to establish relations with Beijing must pass through the Albanian motion. In fact, it is not possible to argue that Taiwan will remain in the UN as a country different from China. Of course, the Americans could submit a motion that, though recognizing the right of the People's Republic of China to represent China at the UN, does not prejudice Taiwan's position at the UN. However, under the current conditions, the Albanian motion is the price to be paid for recognition.
SHARP - We have publicly stated that we will not adopt a policy of one China and one Taiwan. The Japanese may support this formula as they have always argued that the government of Taiwan is an exiled government, but they do not believe that Jiang Jieshi [Chiang Kai-shek] will ever give up claiming that he is the one and only representative of China.
M - I agree that we could settle for a French-style communiqué, accompanied by a statement, also in the form of a comment that the government of Beijing is the only Chinese government. This does not stop us from considering Taiwan to be an independent State entity. On the other hand, I am convinced that our actions will inevitably be followed by the breaking off of relations with Taiwan. Even the vote in favor of the Albanian motion will be inevitable. Until the Albanian motion is the only motion to vote, the game is closed and whoever wishes to maintain relations with Beijing must necessarily resort to the only voting instrument available at the UN. For this reason, we had proposed a study committee at the UN to search for and adopt an alternative solution.
SHARP - I would like to point out two issues: many at the UN will take the same position. Today we have the initiative of negotiations, but once Beijing is recognized we will end up in the same situation as Britain, France and another forty countries. On the other hand, we will be in a position to continue de facto relations - for instance, of a commercial nature - with Taiwan, which certainly will not be abandoned.
The future prospects of the island appear to be at length dependent on the continuity of U.S. presence. This even if there can be no doubt that it will not last forever.
The conversation ends with the mutual commitment to keep in close touch and to exchange information on the issue.
Mitchell Sharp and Aldo Moro coordinate Canadian and Italian policies towards China and Taiwan.
The History and Public Policy Program welcomes reuse of Digital Archive materials for research and educational purposes. Some documents may be subject to copyright, which is retained by the rights holders in accordance with US and international copyright laws. When possible, rights holders have been contacted for permission to reproduce their materials.
To enquire about this document's rights status or request permission for commercial use, please contact the History and Public Policy Program at [email protected].