21. Editorial Note
On April 21, 1969, Secretary of State Rogers defined administration policy objectives in Asia in an address at the annual luncheon of the Associated Press in New York City. He used the address to send another signal of the administration’s desire for improved relations with China:
“One cannot speak of a future Pacific community without reference to China.
“The United States Government understands perfectly well that the Republic of China on the island of Taiwan and Communist China on the mainland are both facts of life.
“We know that by virtue of its size, population, and the talents of its people, mainland China is bound to play an important role in East Asian and Pacific affairs.
“We have attempted to maintain a dialogue with the leaders of Communist China through periodic meetings in Warsaw; and we were disappointed 2 months ago when those leaders saw fit to cancel at the last moment a continuation of those talks.
“We have made a number of specific suggestions—an exchange of journalists, a relaxation of travel restrictions, the sale of grain and pharmaceuticals—in the hope that such steps would lead to a better climate between us. We regret that these overtures have been rejected—and that the leaders of Communist China have elected instead to attack the Nixon administration public pronouncements.
“Of course we recognize and have treaty relations with the Republic of China, which plays a responsible and constructive role in the international community. Whatever may be the ultimate resolution of the dispute between the Republic of China on Taiwan and the People’s Republic of China on the mainland, we believe strongly it must be brought about by peaceful means.
“As things stand now, Communist China is in trouble domestically and externally. The present leaders look with enmity or suspicion upon their neighbors. They are hostile toward the United Nations; hostile toward the United States; hostile toward the Soviet Union; and have shown little interest in normal diplomatic relations with other countries. They still preach violence as a permanent way of life.
“We can expect all this to change with time. Not even a nation as large as mainland China can live forever in isolation from a world of interdependent states.[Page 79]
“Meanwhile, we shall take initiatives to reestablish more normal relations with Communist China and we shall remain responsive to any indications of less hostile attitudes from their side.”
In the course of his address, Rogers also summarized the administration’s objective of shifting the burden of combat in Vietnam to South Vietnam forces:
“The United States is committed to achieving a peace in Viet-Nam which will permit the people of South Viet-Nam to determine their own future, free from outside interference by anyone.
“That is our objective. It has been stated many times. It is known to all concerned. It is not subject to change.
“The South Vietnamese, together with the five allies who responded to their appeal for help, have denied the North Vietnamese Communists the military victory they were seeking. Together we have safeguarded the right of the people in the South to make their own decisions.
“The leaders in Hanoi know that they cannot win by military means.
“That is why there is a new sense of self-confidence in South Viet-Nam.
“And that is why we can now be deeply engaged, as we are, in an intensive program of upgrading the equipment and combat capability of the armed forces of the Republic of Viet-Nam so they are able to take over an ever larger measure of their own defense.
“I want to emphasize that this is something that the leaders of South Viet-Nam very much want—and have so stated publicly and privately.
“This, of course, is what we want, too.
“The readiness of replacement forces, the level of offensive actions by the enemy, or progress in the Paris peace talks will determine the scope and timing of actual transfers of responsibility—and the consequent release of our forces.
“In Paris we have put forward concrete proposals for bringing an end to armed conflict in Viet-Nam. These proposals have been drawn up on the assumption that the leaders of North Viet-Nam are, in fact, now prepared to negotiate an end to the war. On this assumption, we seek to negotiate the withdrawal of all outside combat forces from the territory of South Viet-Nam. This process of troop withdrawal cannot get started by postulating abstract propositions. It cannot get started by taking last things first. It must begin at the beginning.” (Department of State Bulletin, May 12, 1969, pages 397-400)