45. Telegram From the Mission to the United Nations to the Department of State 1

3122. Subj: SYG’s Visit to Peking: Chinese World View.

SYG Waldheim discussed his recent visit to China with Ambs Bush and Bennett in some detail Sept 5. Waldheim had obviously found his trip interesting and personally stimulating. Waldheim generalized that Chinese had reflected bitter hostility toward USSR and a very positive attitude toward US. Waldheim had spent more than three hours with Chou En-lai, who had been forthcoming and even loquacious, and had also seen FonMin Chi Peng-tei. Latter did not seem to be very knowledgeable about foreign affairs. Vice Min Chiao Kwan-hua had been much more knowledgeable than FonMin Chi.
Whenever Soviets were mentioned, Chou En-lai spoke with indignation and made it very clear that USSR is “the enemy”. Chinese had criticized US positions on Korea and Vietnam and Chou had spoken bitterly and almost obsessively of Dulles’ snub to him in Geneva in 1954, but there had always been “friendly undertone” to Chinese references to US. In Great Hall of People, Chou had made point of saying “this is chair where President Nixon was sitting.” At Great Wall of [Page 75]China, escort had jocularly compared Waldheim’s stair-climbing performance to that of Presidents Nixon and Pompidou.
In context of criticism of Soviet “abandonment of Leninist attitudes” and Soviet belligerency on Chinese borders and elsewhere, Chou En-lai had compared Soviets unfavorably with US. “Laird at least tells the truth about US military posture. Laird is sincere, better than the Russians.” Chou had said China did not have economic resources to build major nuclear capability but asserted that in any case, China would never resort to first use of atomic weapons and was not afraid of atomic weapons. “We are big and are going underground, and so are not afraid.” Chou seemed to attach a good deal of importance to China’s “going underground”.
Re international security arrangements, Chou had described World Disarmament Conference as “Soviet sham” which PRC could not support. Perhaps paradoxically, he had said that “disarmament should not be arranged in small committees” and had been critical of SALT and CCD. Latter efforts tended to preserve nuclear monopoly of super powers and to permit them to continue to improve such weaponry.
In viewing evolution in PRC relations with US, Chou had said that beginning of dialogue with US goes back to Hammarskjold visit to China in 1955. Chou took view that in his conversations with President Nixon, latter had “accepted one-China principle.” There had been no Chinese reference to 1972 US elections except in context of discussion of Middle East prospects. Chinese had discussed Vietnam with Waldheim but had said absolutely nothing new. Chinese had reiterated all-out support of North Vietnamese.
Bush asked whether there had been any reference to prisoners of war, a subject to which USG very sensitive. Waldheim said Chinese had said nothing significant on this subject in Vietnam context. In other connections (e.g., Bangladesh) Chinese had reflected sense of their own virtuousness with respect to release of prisoners of war. (Waldheim noted in passing that Chiao Kwan-hua had been man who negotiated prompt release of South Korean prisoners of war at end of Korean conflict.) Chinese also recalled that after border hostilities with India, Chinese had returned not only their prisoners but also material that had been captured.
Chinese had been very positive in their attitude toward UN. They frankly revealed that they had not expected to be admitted to UN in 1972 and therefore had not had people trained and prepared to assume responsibility for conduct of UN responsibilities. They continue to be handicapped in this regard and would assume responsibilities in new areas of UN affairs only as they were able to prepare personnel to do competent job. Waldheim understood Vice Min Chiao would come to 27th GA and that Min Chi might also attend. Chinese had not [Page 76]referred to US 25 percent UN assessment issue, but had asked what Soviet assessment percentage was and asserted unequivocally that PRC, as soon as it was able to, should pay 7 percent instead of the current 4 percent. In UN connection, Chinese had made it clear that they thought “super power” was bad word that should not be applied to China.
Chinese were hostile to India. “Behind India is always the Soviet Union.” Chou had been very upset about Bangladesh issue, which then active in SC. Turn of events in NY had made atmosphere in subcontinent worse than before, Chou held. He was resentful of way Russians were exploiting Bangladesh issue to embarrass PRC (Waldheim thought Chinese fully understood what Russians were up to) but assured Waldheim that Chinese veto threat not idle one (it was at this point that Waldheim had sent Sir Robert Jackson to see Mujib).
Waldheim implied that Chinese have particularly favorable attitudes toward French. General de Gaulle had been recalled most favorably by Chinese. Waldheim did not report any Chinese reference to British.
Dept repeat as appropriate.
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 303, Agency Files, USUN, Vol. X. Secret; Exdis.