304. Editorial Note

Pursuant to NSDM 17 (Document 302), Eliot Richardson, in his capacity as Chairman of the NSC Under Secretaries Committee, on July 8, 1969, sent a memorandum to the President informing him that the Committee had prepared the documents to implement the NSDM. Richardson asked the President’s approval for new regulations and the strategies for Congressional, diplomatic, and press notification of the new policy. (National Archives, RG 59, S/S Files: Lot 83 D 305, NSDM 17)

On July 10 Richardson sent a follow-up memorandum to the President recommending that he authorize implementation of NSDM 17 prior to his departure on his July 25-August 3 around-the-world trip, which included a final stop in Romania. Richardson noted that early announcement of a change in China trade controls could be helpful in getting an extension of the Export Control Act by demonstrating the flexibility the President already had in administering trade controls, obviating the need to amend the Act at that time. Richardson voiced concern that action on the Export Control Act might take another 60-90 days, a delay during which the Sino-Soviet border situation could deteriorate, the administration might lose the diplomatic benefits it was seeking, and the likelihood of press leaks would increase. Richardson was also concerned that if the announcement were delayed until after the President’s visit to Romania, it risked being tied to speculation regarding an anti-Soviet purpose to the visit that would give the China trade decision a “too overt anti-Soviet significance.” The Approve option is checked after Richardson’s recommendation to authorize implementation of NSDM 17 prior to the President’s departure and at the top of the first page is the typed note, dated August 11: “The Under Secretary’s office indicates that the President authorized implementation to recommendations related to visits to China. Decision with respect to the rest is held in abeyance. MAbramowitz to RLBrown.” (Ibid.)

On July 21 Department of State Press Release No. 211 (Corrected) announced new regulations, effective July 23, to permit American tourists and residents abroad to purchase limited quantities of goods originating in Communist China. In addition, members of Congress, journalists, teachers, college and university students and scholars with postgraduate degrees, scientists and medical doctors, and representatives of the American Red Cross would be eligible for automatic validation of their passports for travel to Communist China.

This liberalization of travel was reconsidered, however; Public Notice 314, September 15, stated that “U.S. passports shall not be valid [Page 794] for travel to, in, or through Mainland China unless specifically endorsed for such travel under the authority of the Secretary of State.” (Department of State Bulletin, October 27, 1969, page 362)

On October 6 Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Marshall Green sent Under Secretary Richardson a memorandum on “Next Steps in China Policy.” The portion of Green’s memorandum concerning trade issues reads: “the President has expressed his general interest in modifying our trade policy toward Peking, privately through NSDM 17 … and publicly through our relaxation of tourist purchases of Chinese goods on July 21.” Green indicated that recommendations were being developed to modify Foreign Assets Control regulations regarding extraterritorial aspects of current trade policy toward Communist China, and possibly proposing lifting the ban on importation of Chinese antiques and objets d’art. Green also recommended that all travel restrictions should be dropped as soon as possible. (National Archives, RG 59, S/S Files: Lot 83 D 305, NSDM 17)

Concerning Secretary Rogers’ recommendations to implement the remaining measures in NSDM 17, see Document 308.