The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers, Digital Edition > My Day
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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NEW YORK.—I have just received a letter from a thoughtful correspondent in Florida who states a position which I think is somewhat incorrect, but it forces me to state clearly what I feel about the problem of Communist China.

This is in no way an official pronouncement and does not in any way represent the position of our government except that I think the facts are the same, no matter what one's position is.

It is evident that Communist China at the present time could not qualify as a member of the United Nations. To qualify one must be able to say that one is striving to be a peace-loving nation. This would be impossible as long as a nation had troops outside its own borders which were in some cases acting as occupation troops. Certainly that would be true of Communist China in North Korea, North Viet Nam, Tibet, and perhaps in other areas.

We have never recognized Communist China, although a number of other countries, large and small, have done so. Since Chiang Kai-shek's government left the mainland of China we have continued to support the Formosan government which he set up as representing China in the U.N.

Now, it seems to me quite obvious that neither his government nor the Communist government of the mainland of China is the China that was one of the founding nations of the U.N.

If either of these governments were to come in as a separate government today, it would certainly have to come in as a different government from the one admitted as a founding nation. Therefore, neither one nor the other, it seems to me, should have the right to the veto and a permanent place on the Security Council.

It seems obvious that we would be voted down if we voted against the discussion of the Formosan government's status. Beyond that, I think, we should request a real study of the whole situation before either or both governments come in as members.

The member that was a founding nation has passed away. It no longer exists, and, therefore, the founding nations are now reduced to four.

Nobody really talks about this point, and yet I think it is a very important one connected with the question of the veto power.

We certainly wanted that power when we were first going into the U.N. Whether we want it now or prefer to see it abrogated for all nations in the Security Council is a question that has been discussed many times but never decided. In the background it is there and will someday have to come up for discussion and decision.

The U.N. was set up to be a universal body and there was never any thought that the governments in it would all be set up along the same lines, hold to the same beliefs, and have similar religions.

The great value of the U.N. is the fact that it is a place where completely different people come together, bound by mutual agreements to certain principles. Here they can argue and decide to differ, or come to agreement. But when the human race is endangered they can often agree on measures which will prevent a final catastrophe. Member nations of the U.N. are governed, as we are governed nationally, by majority rule, and in important matters there must be a favorable two-thirds vote to effect a decision.

It seems to me that in the world today this organization is the only organization with developed machinery that can be counted on to help us to build a world of law instead of a world ruled by force which must eventually be destroyed or destroy itself.

If we are to have disarmament, which is the only guarantee of a peaceful world, we must have all nations included. It would be impossible to leave one nation outside—and armed.

I realize that the admission of Communist China would strengthen the Soviets' influence to some extent, but I also think, on the whole, it is good to have everyone before the bar of world opinion. And I have enough confidence in our own strength and our own beliefs so that I think we can stand up in a situation where peoples are working together as equals, and not lose our belief in religion or our belief in democracy.

If we act on what we believe is right, I think our influence is bound in the end to be the dominant influence—but only if we think of the good of all mankind and not of our own good alone.


(Copyright, 1961, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)

Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • New York (N.Y., United States) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, October 18, 1961

Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
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Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University 312 Academic Building 2100 Foxhall Road, NW Washington, DC 20007

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Transcription created from a photocopy of a UFS wire copy of a My Day column instance archived at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.