377. Editorial Note

In a meeting with President Nixon and Henry Kissinger on July 22, 1971, Secretary of State Rogers reviewed the Chinese representation issue in both the General Assembly and Security Council:

Rogers: Now, Mr. President, if you should decide, just in this room that it’s better from our standpoint to just lose to begin with, then we can sort of indicate to the Republic of China, go ahead with the statements, and we’ll just vote on the Albanian Resolution.

Kissinger: Yes, that’s what we talked about at the beginning.

Nixon: I don’t think it’s a good policy.

Kissinger: I don’t either.

Nixon: I think it looks too damn—

Rogers: It’s too cynical.

Nixon: Cynical, well another thing is this: Let’s look at it from the standpoint now of domestic relations, American relations, there’s still a helluva lot of people who oppose the initiative to Red China and the UN [unintelligible]. It’s still a very substantial number, I understand that. But in terms of this new initiative from China, it looks like we’re being tricky as hell, if we on one hand say we’re going to Communist [Page 733]China, and on the other hand we’re voting against Communist China coming into the UN. I wonder if that doesn’t just make us look like a bunch of hypocrites. Does it or doesn’t it?

Rogers: I think it does.

Kissinger: I agree with Bill. If you remember in April I was sort of attracted by the idea—

Nixon: Just get rolled.

Kissinger: Then if we were going to lose anyway, but it was an opposite situation. I felt that as long as we were going to lose, we might as well lose maintaining our principles, but right now maintaining our principles makes us look tricky. We’re not going to get credit for maintaining the principle while going to Peking, because we had had the principle that China ought to be excluded from the UN. So my original reason for it is no longer valid. Secondly, I did remember mentioning to Chou En-lai just in passing, there’s always voting on the Albanian Resolution, which [unintelligible] and he certainly did not pick that up. I mean he didn’t say [unintelligible], so I think the game with that is just too cynical. So I think if Taiwan wants to stay in, we owe them a fight for it.

Rogers: Suppose they decide they don’t want to? And I think—

Kissinger: We’d be better off making a fight [unintelligible], except we might fight less intensely.

Rogers: Well, do we all agree? I think I certainly feel that we have to vote for the PRC’s admission.

Nixon: You think so?

Kissinger: Yes.

Nixon: I guess we have to. I wish we didn’t have to, but I don’t see how we can avoid it—”

After further discussion, President Nixon commented: “I think that, it seems to me that the way it sorts out, we’ve got to indicate that we would support the admission of Red China into the United Nations. We will oppose the expulsion of any nation which has been a good member of the United Nations, period. Well, and we oppose the expulsion of Taiwan because Taiwan has been a good member, period. Right?”

The discussion continued, and Kissinger concluded: “What we should do in my judgment, is we should make a real fight, but we should do it in a way that we don’t elaborate too much on the legal basis for a two China solution. If we can win just by arm-twisting and—

Nixon: In other words, what we really need here, Bill, is to have George [Bush] or whatever, not to make a great big damn legal case for it, just say the nation shouldn’t be expelled, and we’re going to fight for them. Is that a good point?

[Page 734]

Kissinger: That’s actually my point.

Nixon: Because basically you don’t want to get into a position where the two China thing is so strongly—

Kissinger: I’d like to be in a position where we have made a genuine fight, but at the same time, Peking could figure that anytime they could get two-thirds, they could get rid of Taiwan and that seems to be something they could look forward to in two or three years, maybe even one year. But I think for us to roll over and play dead on the basis of just one visit, no matter how well you’ve talked to them or how well they’ve talked to you, is just too unprincipled.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Tapes, July 22, 1971, 3:49–5:05 p.m. Oval Office, Conversation No. 543–1) The editor transcribed the portions of the conversation printed specifically for this volume.