No. 402 NAI DFA 26/95

Letter from Seán Lester to Joseph P. Walshe (Dublin)
(X.12/48) (Confidential)

Geneva, 26 August 1930

A Chara,

Candidature for the Council

Dr. Woo Kaiseng, the Chinese Minister, called to see me last night. His object was not very apparent and the conversation remained fairly general until he asked me about the position regarding the Council seat. I assured him we have very optimistic reports, and that as far as that could be a guide, we were very confident of election. In turn, I asked him concerning the situation of the Chinese candidature, and he remarked as far as general assurances of sympathy and support were concerned he had not much reason to be dissatisfied. It struck me that there was a certain amount of uneasiness in his mind. I again assured him that the fact that Ireland and China were among the competitors for election did not in the slightest affect the sympathy and friendliness of the Government and the Irish people. We had no axe to grind in China and were only anxious that that great country should obtain its complete freedom from such indignities as extraterritoriality.

Dr. Woo said that the continuous policy of his Government was directed to secure at least a semi-permanent seat on the Council, such as is at present recognised for Poland. I asked him did he not think that it would have been better to have postponed the Chinese candidature until next year, when a simple majority would secure election, that their failure to secure the two-thirds this year would not be helpful to their prestige or towards establishing their claim to a semi-permanent seat. His only reply was that they had been advised by some of their friends not to press their candidature last year, but to try this year.

I had been expecting something definite to turn up in the course of the conversation, and Dr. Woo eventually made a suggestion very tentatively that an arrangement of some kind might be possible between the Saorstát and China. I said that that was a very interesting suggestion, and probed as delicately as possible for further information. He then suggested that there might be a meeting, and asked when the Delegation would arrive. I told him they would arrive on the 9th and having got him to the point of making this suggestion, I said that it would be unfair to him if I left him under any misapprehension regarding the Irish position: that my Government had been putting forth all their energy to secure election and that there was absolutely no prospect of withdrawal, that if there were any other way in which we could signify our friendliness for China I was sure that, from my general knowledge of the Government's policy, it would be considered in the most sympathetic manner. I failed to get him to state precisely if it were in his mind that some bargain might be made on condition of China's withdrawal this year, but as he did not withdraw his proposal for a meeting after I had twice emphasised the irrevocable decision of the Saorstát, it leaves me with a little hope that they have found the going too heavy. I also in parting left with him the initiative to speak to me on the first day of the Assembly with regard to a meeting between the First Delegates of our respective delegations.

Mise, le meas,
[signed] Seán Lester

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