The Taiwan government deeded a third embassy row properyy yesterday to an American nonprofit corporation that lists Sen. Barry Goldwater and longtime Washington attorney Thomas G. Corcoran as cochairmen of its national board.
The organization, Friends of Free China, received the Nationalist Chinese embassy and chancery properties last Friday. Yesterday, according to the group's executive director and its attorney, the group was given the Office of Military, Naval and Air Attaches at 2340 Massachusetts Ave. NW, across the street from the chancery.
The three properties have a combined value of more than $4 million, judging by the price of similar buildings nearby, but they were given to Friends of Free China for the nominal charge of $10 apiece.
The transactions have apparently been made in an effort to keep the Peking government from claiming the properities when it is recognized as the sole official government of China on Jan. 1.
"The properities were titled in the name of the Republic of China," said one source familiar with the deal. "Had they done nothing, it's obvious to anyone that the People's Republic might have claimed them -- you know, it says Republic of China and Mr. Carter says that doesn't exist, so move over."
In 1966, after France recognized Peking, Taiwanese diplomats reportedly were forcibly evicted from their Paris embassy when it was claimed by mainland China.
One informed source pointed out the lack of time for a more conventional and lucrative disposal of the building. Given the circumstances, this source said, "It can't hurt to have someone friendly in (the buildings), because who knows what the future may bring?"
Jack E. Buttram, executive director of Friends of Free China, said yesterday the properties were received "with absolutely no strings attached." He said no definite plans had been made for them, but did not rule out the possibility that the Taiwanese might continue to use them.
Although Taiwanese Ambassador James C. H. Shen will leave the official Washington residence this evening, the embassyhs press counselor said yesterday there are no immediate plans to vacate the chancery offices at 2311 Massachusetts Ave. NW.
"The staff will continue to work here (after Jan. 1), but the name plaque will come down and out flag will no longer be raised," press counselor Frank C. H. Tao said.
Asked if this would be a problem since the properties no longer belong to China, Tao said, "What do you mean it doesn't belong to us anymore? ... If you d eeded your house to a friend you could s tay on for a little while, and maybe longer."
The United States and Taiwan are negotiating in Taipei for some sort of unofficial representation in both countries to allow continued travel and commerce between them.
According to Buttram, Friends of Free China is a nonprofit cultural orgnization that sponsors and promotes tours of Chinese artists and performers in the United States. Its main interest, he said, is the preservation of a culture that has been largely eradicated on the mainland.
Buttram, a Greenville, S.C., public relations man who formerly worked for Sens. Barry Goldwater (R-Ariz.) and Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.) and former Sen. Paul Fannin (R-Ariz.), as well as in the office of Anne Armstrong when she was counselor to president Nixon, was a registered president Nixon, was a registered agent of Taiwan during the early 1970s. Buttram said yesterday that preccisely because he is familiar with governmental regulations on nonprofit corporations he scrupulously avoids any contributions to Friends of Free China by foreign governments or their representatives.
"We are specifically prohibited from lobbying," Buttram said.
Buttram described a packet of information about China sent to "all the candidates from both parties that we could find" during the congressional elections this year as "an information kit rather than a political action kit."
The packet, which contained newspaper and magazine articles on both sides of the China question, was led by a cover letter signed both by Goldwater and by Corcoran, a one time member of Franklin Roosevelt's "brain trust."
Goldwater, who is involved in a lawsuit to stop President Carter from severing ties with Taiwan, and Corcoran are cochairmen of Friends of Free China.
"The first concern of Friends of Free China is for the peace and security of the United States," the cover letter read in part. "To achieve that goal, should we go further than we already have in seeking to improve relations with Communist China?
"... If going further means attempts to buy the friendship of Peking at the expense of diplomatic and treaty relationships with a loyal friend and ally, the Republic of China on Taiwan, our answer is No."
Neither Corcoran nor Goldwater could be reached yesterday for comment.
Buttram said the membership of the organization's national board includes Norman Vincent Peale, former House Speaker John McCormack and Ronald Reagan. The organization has about 20 local chapters, Buttram said, and at total membership between 2,000 and 3,000 people.