201 Record of Conversation between Woolcott1 and Ch'iao Kuan-Hua2

Peking, 16 August 1974


Conversation with: Mr R.A. Woolcott, Deputy Secretary and Ch'iao Kuan-hua, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs

Aust. Officers Present: Dr S.A. FitzGerald, Ambassador, Mr M. Williams,3 Mr A.M McLean4

Chou En-lai,5 Disarmament, Relations with United States, Sino-Soviet Relations, Cambodia, Regional Cooperation, Nuclear Free and Peace Zones

a. In the opening pleasantries Mr Woolcott commented that the main purpose of his visit to Peking was for post liaison but that he was pleased to have the opportunity to meet with Ch'iao. Ch'iao replied that he had had many contacts with the Embassy and commented that the Ambassador was very capable often taking the initiative. China welcomed these initiatives and Ch'iao observed that China possibly had been a little lazy in this regard. Mr Woolcott noted that in view of the lack of contacts between Australia and China prior to the establishment of diplomatic relations Australia was very anxious now to develop its relations through officials' talks and by having an active Ambassador and Embassy to take initiatives.

[matter omitted]


b. After some further discussion of Chou's working habits Ch'iao reiterated his thanks for the Prime Minister's concern and commented that China was very glad Mr Whitlam had won the recent election.6 It was an important development in Australia and would guarantee the development and continuity of our bilateral relations which were developing well. General discussion then followed on the effects of the energy crisis and their relation to the Australian economy. Mr Woolcott commented that problems in the Australian economy were likely to be temporary. Australia had extensive mineral resources including the largest uncommitted uranium resources in the world. Ch'iao commented that Australia was different from China as it did not have any border questions. Mr Woolcott agreed noting that Australia was an island continent. Ch'iao remarked that China and Australia had many common views on a number of Law of Sea questions. Mr Woolcott commented that Mr Harry's visit had been very successful. Ch'iao said he had heard from the Chinese delegation in Caracas that Australian/Chinese cooperation was very good.

Australia and Asia

c. Mr Woolcott gave an account of the Prime Minister's visit to six countries of South East Asia, noting that Mr Whitlam had used the visit to redefine Australian policies towards this region. Although the Government of Australia had changed, its interest in the region continued undiminished in its importance. However, the degree of Australian interest in South East Asia had become much less militarily oriented and the emphasis was on establishing more lasting contacts. Trade and cultural agreements of mutual advantage had been updated in order to adopt a less ideological outlook. In addition there had been some recent decisions of interest including Australia's support for the PRG's7 presence as an observer at a weaponry experts conference. Australia had recently established relations with the DPRK.8 Ch'iao commented that China appreciated all these moves.

Disarmament and Nuclear Free and Peace Zones

d. Mr Woolcott added that Australia was also examining its policy on disarmament in advance of the next session of the United Nations General Assembly. Prime Minister Whitlam would be attending as would the Foreign Minister Willesee because he was a candidate for the Presidency of the General Assembly next year. Ch'iao asked if Australia had any new considerations on disarmament. Mr Woolcott replied that Australia was very concerned with the so-called peaceful nuclear explosion by India. Australia felt that this damaged the somewhat fragile structure of nuclear non-proliferation and that it was Australia's wish to see the NPT strengthened if possible.

[NAA: A1838, 3107/33/14]