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104. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon 1

SUBJECT

  • Remarks by Chinese Communist Deputy Foreign Minister on U.S. Relations with Communist China

Our Ambassador in Oslo has reported a conversation on February 4 between the Norwegian Ambassador in Peking and Chinese Communist [Page 257]Deputy Foreign Minister Chiao Kuan Hua in which Chiao noted that:2

  • —The Chinese are aware of a new trend in America’s position vis-à-vis China and greater flexibility as regards the Taiwan question.
  • —However, because of Indochina it is impossible to resume the Warsaw meetings now, both out of respect for China’s friends in Indochina and because U.S. escalation is bringing the war closer to China’s doorstep.3
  • —The Chinese and the Americans nevertheless must sooner or later sit down and straighten out our relationships. Chiao implied interest in a meeting with me.
  • Chiao requested that the above be brought to our attention and hoped that Norway could continue to be a channel of communication. (They probably chose Norway for this on the grounds of Norwegian friendship and reliability—others such as the Pakistanis might not fit as well.)

Comment:

The remarks by Chiao Kuan Hua can be considered authoritative and probably representative of current Peking thinking on U.S. relations with Communist China. Significant points of this conversation are as follows:

  • —This is a formal Chinese approach, as evidenced by the fact that Chiao specifically requested that his remarks be brought to the attention of the Americans.
  • —The Chinese are aware of our more forthcoming position on U.S. relations with China, e.g. Chiao’s remarks on our flexibility on the Taiwan question. Our efforts to get this message across have therefore succeeded.
  • —The Chinese attitude was non-polemical. It of course comes as no surprise that Indochina is an obstacle to a resumption of contacts, [Page 258]but even on this point the Chinese position was a moderate one. Importantly. Chiao’s dispassionate remarks were made on the same day Peking issued a strong Foreign Ministry denunciation of our actions in Laos, suggesting a Chinese disposition to play down the effects of Laos on long-term U.S.-Chinese relations.
  • —Chinese willingness to get together with us in due course was emphasized. Chiao’s implied interest in meeting with me can probably be read not just as a mere gesture of politeness, but rather an expression of more serious intent to arrange a high-level meeting.

In short, the Chinese have let it be known authoritatively that they are indeed interested in dealing with us at an appropriate time and level, and recognize that our position has changed. Perhaps we might find flexibility on their side as well.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 520, Country Files, Far East, China, Vol. V. Secret; Nodis; Ohio. Sent for information. A notation on the memorandum indicates the President saw it. In an attached February 8 memorandum to Kissinger, Holdridge recommended that this memorandum be sent to the President. Norwegian diplomats also relayed information about the PRC to U.S. officials in Washington. The Norwegian Ambassador to the United States, Arne Gunneng, discussed Sino-American relations at least three times with U. Alexis Johnson during 1969. (Memoranda of conversation, February 27, September 18, and December 17, 1969; ibid., RG 59, S/S Files: Lot 96 D 695, U. Alexis Johnson Files, Memcons, 1969) During his visit to Washington in November 1970, Norwegian Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China Ole Aalgaard suggested to Johnson that he [Aalgaard] could serve as a conduit for messages between the United States and People’s Republic of China. (Memorandum of conversation, November 16, 1970; ibid., Memcons, 1970)
  2. In telegram 390 from Oslo, February 8, Ambassador to Norway Philip K. Crowe reported that Aalgaard transmitted the Chinese statement on February 6. The Norwegian Foreign Office gave it to Crowe on February 8. A notation by Kissinger on the telegram reads: “Summary for President, HK.” (Ibid.) On March 24 Holdridge informed Kissinger of another conversation between PRC and Norwegian diplomats, during which the “Chinese bore down very heavily on the fact of a US military presence in Taiwan as the key issue between the US and Communist China. He [Deputy Foreign Minister Lo Kuei Po] did not mention our treaty with the GRC or political support for Chiang Kai-shek as stumbling blocks.” (Telegram 846 from Oslo, March 19, attached to Holdridge’s memorandum to Kissinger; ibid., Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 520, Country Files, Far East, China, Vol. VI)
  3. The President underlined the word “Indochina” and the rest of the paragraph beginning with the word “respect.”