63. Letter From President Nixon to President Chiang1

Dear Mr. President:

Your letter of March 1 was most welcome.2 I greatly appreciated your frankness and your sincere concern for the success of my efforts to bring a lasting peace to East Asia.

From the conversations which we had together before I became President and from the previous correspondence which we have exchanged, I know of your deep distrust of Communist China’s motives. In my own evaluation of Communist China, I do not ignore the legacy of the past, nor do I ignore the threat which the Chinese Communist regime may pose in the future. In my report to the Congress of February 18, 1970 on United States Foreign Policy,3 I stated that in dealing with the Communist countries we would not underestimate the depth of ideological disagreement or the disparity between their interests and ours. You may recall, too, that in my press conference of January 30 I cited the potential danger to the United States posed by the growth of Communist China’s nuclear weapons capability.

At the same time, Mr. President, I believe that I would be remiss in my duty to the American people if I did not attempt to discover whether a basis may not exist for reducing the risk of a conflict between the United States and Communist China, and whether certain of the issues which lie between us may not be settled by negotiation. The alternative of maintaining a hostile relationship indefinitely while weapons of mass destruction increase in numbers and power is a terrible one, and demands that every reasonable effort be made to promote understandings which will contribute to peace and stability in Asia.

In undertaking this effort, I of course have in mind not only the essential interests of the American people, but of our allies as well. In your letter you have expressed concern for certain aspects of our talks [Page 209] with the Chinese Communists at Warsaw. Secretary Rogers has received from your Ambassador in Washington a detailed statement of your Government’s views on these matters and is replying to them.

I wish, however, to assure you personally and in the strongest terms of my determination that there shall be no change in the firmness of our commitment to the defense of Taiwan and the Pescadores and of my earnest desire that these talks will not affect the friendship and close cooperation which has existed between our Governments for so many years. I deeply value our long personal relationship as candid friends and am confident that this will serve us well in the future.

Mrs. Nixon joins me in extending our best wishes and warmest regards to you and Madame Chiang. We trust that Madame Chiang’s health has improved.


Richard Nixon
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, S/S Files: Lot 72 D 230, Presidential and Secretary of State Correspondence with Heads of State, 1961-1971, Box 18, China (Nationalist). Nodis. Also printed in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, China, 1969–1972.
  2. In his March 1 letter to Nixon, Chiang Kai-shek wrote that he did not object to talks between the United States and Communist China, but he warned that accepting Peking’s five principles of peaceful coexistence or discussing the “so-called Taiwan problem” would be “infringing on the sovereign rights of the Republic of China.” (Ibid., Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 520, Country Files, Far East, China, Vol. IV)
  3. Document 60.