The Geneva Conference
At the initiative of the USSR, the Four-power Conference of Foreign Ministers in Berlin reached agreement on 28 February 1954, decided to convene in April 1954 a Geneva Conference on Korea and Indo-China. In addition to the USSR, the United States, France, the United Kingdom and the People?s Republic of China as participants throughout the whole conference, the other countries concerned with the two questions were also to be represented respectively at the discussions of their own questions.
On 19 April, the Chinese Government appointed Zhou Enlai, Premier and Foreign Minister, as Chief Delegate and Zhang Wentian, Wang Jiaxiang and Li Kenong as Delegates of the Chinese Delegation to the Geneva Conference. The Geneva Conference was an important conference on international issues in which the PRC participated with the status and in the capacity of the Big Five.
The Geneva Conference opened on 26 April 1954 and the first issue to be discussed was the Korean question. At the outset of the conference, the DPRK Foreign Minister Nam Il advanced the proposal for restoring Korean unity and organizing free elections for the whole of Korea. Foreign Minister Zhou Enlai expressed total support for the proposal made by Foreign Minister Nam Il.
However, the South Korean delegate proposed at the conference that an all-Korean elections be held according to the ROK constitutional procedure under the UN supervision; that the Chinese forces should be totally withdrawn from Korea one month before such elections, whereas the UN forces would leave Korea after the elections and the realization of reunification of Korea etc.. It was very obvious that the South Korean proposal was in essence an attempt to impose the ROK legal system on all the Korea people and to annex North Korea. The U.S. delegate gave instant support to these proposals.
Foreign Minister Zhou Enlai pointed out at the Conference: The withdrawal of all foreign forces from Korea is a prerequisite to free expression of will by the Korean people in the absence of any outside interference during their national elections; the elections in Korea should not be placed under the supervision of the United Nations which is a belligerent party to the Korean War; nevertheless, China agrees to international supervision over the elections; he proposed that in order to assist the all-Korean council in holding all-Korean free elections in accordance with the all-Korean electoral law without any foreign interference, a neutral nations supervision commission be set up to supervise the elections.
By 15 June it already seemed hardly possible for the conference participants to reach any agreement due to their differences of principle over how to settle the Korean question peacefully. The DPRK, China and the Soviet Union made a final effort and made proposals in favor of a peaceful resolution of the Korean question so as to break the stalemate. The United States, however, took the lead in opposing the above-mentioned proposals. Countries whose troops formed the ?UN Forces? came up with a ?16-nation declaration? which drove the conference on to the verge of a breakdown.
In such circumstances, Foreign Minister Zhou Enlai made a final effort. He pointed out that the U.S. delegate deliberately obstructed the Geneva Conference from reaching any agreement on the question of maintaining and consolidating peace in Korea. Even so, the participating countries at the conference still had the obligations to reach some kind of agreement on the peaceful settlement of the Korean question. He proposed that ?the participating countries at the conference agree that they shall continue their efforts so as to reach an agreement on the question of the peaceful settlement of the Korean question on the basis of the establishment of a unified, independent and democratic Korean state; the question of proper time and site for the resumption of talks will be decided through discussions by the countries concerned?.
Though this declaration was accepted by the overwhelming majority of participants at the conference, it was not adopted by the conference due to refusal by U.S. delegate to express agreement. In this way, the discussion of the Korean question at the Geneva Conference ended without reaching any agreement. However, just as Foreign minister Zhou Enlai pointed out that it helped everyone to see how the U.S. delegate had obstructed the Geneva Conference and blocked the adoption of a minimum but conciliatory proposal.
Having wound up its discussions on the Korean question, the Geneva Conference turned to the question of Indo-China on 8 May. The participants included China, the USSR, the UK, France, the U.S., the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, the Republic of Vietnam(i.e. South Vietnam), the Kingdom of Laos and the Kingdom of Cambodia. The conference mainly focussed its discussion on such questions as the delimitation of regrouping zones for the two belligerent parties in Vietnam (with DRVN on one side and France and South Vietnam on the other), the way to distinguish the questions of Laos and Cambodia from those of Vietnam, supervision of and guarantee for the cease-fire and the political future of Indo-China. The United States attempted to prolong and even expand the Indo-China War. Though it was compelled to participate in the conference, it never gave up its design of direct intervention in the Indo-China War. Confronted with such a situation, the Chinese Delegation adopted during the conference?s deliberations on the Indo-Chinese question an approach of trying as best it could to win over most of the countries including France, focussing on opposition to U.S. sabotage and vigorously pushing for progress at the conference.
In mid-June, the conference was at a standstill due to differences among the parties. Blending the views of the relevant countries in good time, China produced a proposal for settling the questions of Laos and Cambodia, a proposal which won applause from many quarters. The participants at the conference reached some agreements on ways to end hostilities in Laos and Cambodia, which advanced the Conference a big step forward.
The Chinese Delegation also played a significant role over how to delimit the regrouping zones for the belligerent parties in Vietnam. Premier Zhou Enlai??s meeting with new French Premier Mendes-France in Bern, his comparing of notes with President Ho Chi Minh in Liuzhou and his talks with the Soviet leaders in Moscow have further coordinated the views of Vietnam, China and the USSR. They succeeded in breaking the impasse over the delimitation of regrouping zones and thus removed from the conference the last and also the biggest obstacle to an agreement.
On 21 July, the Conference adopted a ?Final Declaration? which brought about an end to the war in Indo-China, termination of the long years of colonial wars carried out by France in this region and affirmed the national rights of the three Indo-Chinese states. This is an important milestone in the process of the struggles for independence by the people of the three Indo-Chinese states. At the same time, once again for the world as a whole, the Geneva Conference brought into sight the Chinese people?s positive role in their unremitting efforts for the security of their motherland, for the cause of world peace and human progress and for a negotiated settlement of international disputes.
The U.S. delegate refused to accede to the conference ?Final Declaration?. This indicates that it has other designs and foreshadowing its stepped up intervention in Indo-China.