John Paton Wu Ningkun
INT: The strategy adopted to drive the Soviets and the Chinese apart, which we've talked about, seems to be quite a high-risk strategy. Why was there not an attempt to do what the British had done and form better relations with the Chinese in order to try and weaken the Soviet threat that way?
RB: Well, I think the reason of not following the British was that the British had not been su... very successful, had not accomplished anything by this policy. They had recognised China early, and they had sent representatives to China... And when I went back to Harvard, I started a programme which was for fellows, for people from all the different services around the world, about 15 a year, senior men who had already had experience. One of these was a man whom I won't give you the name, who had represented the Soviet Union in China, and I said to him - this was in about 1960 or '61 - I said to him, "What did you accomplish when you were there?" and he said, "Nothing." He said, "We were virtually isolated. They did not deal with us in any way seriously," and he said, "We had no special access and no influence." And I think that was recognised generally, that you were not able to influence them simply by trying to woo them or trying to,, attract them, and therefore it was not really a very high-risk strategy, because the alternate strategy wasn't producing results at all.
INT: Of course, that's the strategy now, isn't it, to woo the Chinese?
INT: That's the strategy now, though, isn't it, to woo the Chinese? (RB laughs) Finally, just on a personal note, what would you say was the most frightening moment of this Taiwan Straits crisis for you?
RB: Well, I don't know that I could specify a particular time. As I told you earlier, my... my... my really worst concern was that without desiring the result, nuclear weapons might in fact be used, with very serious ..., casualties among civilians, and I thought this would be both a human disaster, but also it would be a policy disaster, simply because the stakes just did not seem to justify anything like that. (Phone) I hope that...
INT: ... Thank you. Have we missed anything?
INT: So, in your own words...
RB:... the Eisenhower Administration adopted what was later called the "wedge strategy" in relations with China. The premise here was thatwhile the Chinese and the Soviets were closely working together because of common interests and because of the ideology at the time, and would probably continue to do so for a period of years, that there were really nevertheless deep, deep differences of real interests between them, and that over time these would cause... probably cause, or might cause, a split in the alliance. Second, the belief was that this would depend mainly on internal forces, which would have a tendency to create tensions, that the situation could be speeded up or made more likely by some external actions. And third, the kind of actions which were involved were embargo which would force the Soviets and the Chinese to be ... to work together economically; and second, efforts to isolate them politically so that they would not have an access to the outside world through the UN or through recognition or through any means; and third, by maintaining the,, continued existence of Taiwan as a definite independent area, so that they would probably differ in their relative im... interest in what happened about Taiwan, or particularly the smaller islands which were held by the Chi... by the Chinese nationalists. I don't think that's much better.
INT: It started well...
(A bit of discussion around this)
RB: The Eisenhower policy was... was to... to try to drive a wedge between the Soviet Union and the Chinese over time. This was based on the idea that there were deep potential differences of interest between the two, even though they were co-operating at the time and were likely to continue on. And this... wha... in order to do this, it depended mainly on these internal cleavages, but could be ex... made worse by external actions that we could take by embargo, by isolating them out of the UN and by not recognising them, and by other things of that sort.
INT: Thereby making the Chinese more reliant on...
RB: The... the... net id... the basic idea was that by forcing the Chinese to be more dependent on the Soviet Union, it would be possible to accentuate these differences of interests.
(A bit of discussion. Cut.)
INT: What assumptions were made about the Soviet-Sino alliance?
RB: The Eisenhower Administration assumed that the Sino-Soviet alliance was intact and was strong, it was based on common interests for the present. But there was also the assumption that it had in it very serious bases of differences of view, differences of interests, which might ultimately cause a split.
INT: And what policy did the United States adopt to try and exaggerate that split?
RB: The... the idea of the policy... of the Eisenhower policy was to try to force the,, Chinese to depend more on the Soviet Union, in the belief that this would accentuate these kinds of conflicts of interest over time. The final result was hoped to be, a wedge would develop and would separate the two, and would make them really hostile because of the difference in interests.
INT: And it worked.
RB: And finally, I would say that it seems to me that over time, this policy actually worked, and that it became... began to come to fruition by as early as the late Fifties, '59, '60, and was ultimately,, validated by what was done in in seventy... in the early Seventies in the reconciliation with China.
INT: Thanks very much.
(Final bit of chat not transcribed. End.)