99. Editorial Note

The developing confrontation between India and Pakistan was one of the subjects discussed by Henry Kissinger and Chinese Premier Chou En-lai during Kissingerʼs trip to Peking July 9–11, 1971. South Asia was discussed extensively on July 10, the second day of conversations between Kissinger and Chou. The United States and China shared a mutual concern about developments in East Pakistan, and Kissinger and Chou both saw Indiaʼs hand behind the Bengali resistance that threatened the control of Yahya Khanʼs government over the eastern wing of the country. Chou implied that China would intervene if India acted to undermine Pakistanʼs control over East Pakistan: “In our opinion, if India continues on its present course in disregard of world opinion, it will continue to go on recklessly. We, however, support the stand of Pakistan. This is known to the world. If they (the Indians) are bent on provoking such a situation, then we cannot sit idly by.” Kissinger observed in response that, while the United States maintained what he referred to as “friendly relations” with India, the sympathies of the Nixon administration also lay with Yahya Khanʼs government. He was more restrained in projecting a U.S. response to military action by India in East Pakistan: “You know from President Yahya Khan the strong friendship we feel for him and his country. We strongly oppose any military action to solve the problems of East Pakistan. And if India takes military action in East Pakistan, we would strongly and publicly disapprove of it.” (Memorandum of conversation, July 10; National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 1032, Files for the President, China Materials, Polo I Record) The full text of the memorandum is scheduled for publication in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XVII, China, 1969–1972.