I was acknowledged as the unofficial leading spokesman for the Group of 77, a U.N. unofficial group, mainly embracing countries from the Third World. The main item for discussion at one of the U.N. Sessions concerned ‘The Restoration of the Legitimate Rights of the Peoples Republic of China’. Up to that time, with the active support of the U.S.A. and the western nations, the United Nations’ Seat for China was held by Taiwan, General Chang Kai Shek’s ‘Free China’ and not by Peking (Beijing), Communist China, Mao Tse Tung and Chou En Lai.
The President of that U.N. Session was Foreign Minister Malik of Indonesia. The Group of 77 sponsored the Motion for ‘The Restoration of the Legitimate U.N. Rights to Peking Communist China’, and I was the unofficial Debate spokesman for the Group of 77. The industrialised nations of Western Europe and the United States sponsored a counter-motion to retain Free Taiwan China, and their spokesman was the American Ambassador and Permanent Representative, George Bush (Snr), later to become President of the United States, and father of recent President, George Bush Jnr.
I requested our Sierra Leone U.N. Head of Chancery official, Mr. George Coleridge Taylor, to get me as many copies as possible of United States officially published documents, reports and books dealing with the past relationship between the U.S.A. and Peking China. During that U.N. Debate, I would quote extensively from these U.S. official sources, to the embarrassment of American U.N. Permanent Representative, George Bush (Senior)
The U.N. Debate soon developed almost into a feud between Ambassador George Bush and myself on U.S./Sino past relationships and policies. The U.N. Debate went on unimpeded until two o’clock the following morning. It was clear that our own side, the Group of 77, was winning the day. Then, Ambassador Bush moved that the Session be adjourned. I counter moved that the question be now put, and the voting bells were sounded.
The U.N. procedure allowed for only two speeches of no more than five minutes each, one for and one against a procedural Motion. Since mine was the positive Motion (‘That the question be now put’), I had the last word. Ambassador Bush, quite correctly, indicated that the representatives were obviously tired and needed some time to sleep before resuming the discussions.
As for myself and our Group of 77, we realised that any overnight delay might prove catastrophic to our in-built majority, as we could not be sure about the lengths to which America would go during such a brief interval to intimidate some of our members. So, during my allotted five minutes, I rather stressed the importance of the matter which had been fully debated, and the need to take a decision straight away. The voting bells were sounded and delegates rushed into the hall, some of them unaware of what was being voted on. Some industrialized nations’ supporters, like Israel for instance, might have thought that they were being asked to vote on the United States’ Motion for the adjournment, and Israel pressed the button ‘YES’, which in fact indicated that she supported my Motion, that the question be now put. As a result, we had the majority and my Motion was adopted.
President Malik of Indonesia now had no option but to put the Motion by the Group of 77 that ‘The Legitimate Rights of Peking China be Restored’, without any further debate. The voting bells were again sounded, but that did not save the day for Ambassador George Bush. Around some ten minutes to three that morning, the result of the voting was declared; we, the Group of 77, with majority members, had won, and Communist China had been admitted to her rightful place in the United Nations family of nations. Ambassador George Bush left his Seat ‘E’ (Etats Unis) in the front row of the U.N. General Assembly Hall and walked towards me in the rear row ‘S’ (Sierra Leone). He grabbed my hands, shaking them vigorously and saying: “Congratulations, Mr Minister! If ever I have a problem in the United States, be sure that I will send for you, wherever you may be, to come over as my Attorney!”
Beijing, China was obviously satisfied with the role Sierra Leone had played in helping to restore her rights in the U.N. and we received an official invitation to visit that great country. I was still Foreign Minister and I had many audiences with the Chinese Premier Chou En Lai.
#Culled from Pages 218 – 220 of JOLLIBOY!
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