186. Transcript of a Telephone Conversation Between President Nixon and the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1

[Omitted here is discussion of press relations, Vietnam, and China.]

K: I think on this one [China]. Sure the Democrats are going to start yelling now. They are going to come up with 50 hot gimmicks but we are so far ahead …

[Page 540]

P: What they will come up with now is why don’t we admit them to the UN? Why don’t we recognize them and so forth. Well, that’s all premature … debate.

K: Also, Mr. President, it helps us with the Russian game.

P: I think so.

K: Because if the Russians see that the Democrats are more hawk-wild [hog-wild?] than you are vis-à-vis China then—

P: I hadn’t thought of that, but it’s true.

K: Then they have much less of an incentive to bring them in. They already don’t trust them on the Middle East, then with China they also turn out to be a disaster. So I think—my major worry is that if we get too eager that the Chinese will start going back into a shell. And that’s why the way you have played it and that’s where the Democrats could do damage.

P: I sure as hell don’t expect to get eager at all with the Chinese. Unless the Russian thing drops. Then the Chinese may want to be eager and we will too.

K: That’s right.

P: We can’t just assume we will wait until 1974.

K: Oh no, oh God no.

P: This is one of those things where I don’t believe, I think—I think our Chinese game, Henry, should be played exactly as it is being played. Very cool and aloof and yet the door is open now you walk in kids. It’s your—

K: Mr. President, I must tell you honestly I believe that we have a 30% chance, even if we played the Russian game, of having a high level Chinese one next year. That may not have to wait until ’74.

P: We want to use it. We want it at the highest level too.

K: That’s what I mean. That’s not at all excluded.

P: Let me say that the more I think about the envoy thing. If we are going to go I think we ought to go at the highest level.

K: Well, I think the envoy could prepare for it.

P: It might, but it might take a lot of the zip out of it too. You know what I mean Henry. You just can’t tell. I don’t know if there is anybody we trust to send over there. That’s—

K: That’s a bit down the road yet. First we need a reliable channel.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, Henry Kissinger Telephone Conversation Transcripts, Box 29, Home File. No classification marking. The transcript was prepared at the time from a tape recording of the conversation.