116. National Security Decision Memorandum 1051


  • The Secretary of State
  • The Secretary of Defense
  • The Director of Central Intelligence
  • The Attorney General


  • Steps Towards Augmentation of Travel and Trade Between the People’s Republic of China and the United States

The President has reviewed the recommendations forwarded by the Under Secretaries Committee on steps to increase personal and commercial contacts between the People’s Republic of China and the United States,2 and has directed that the following moves be undertaken:

  • —Issuance of a public statement offering to expedite visas for groups of visitors from the People’s Republic of China to the U.S.
  • —Relaxation of currency control to permit Chinese use of dollars.
  • —Ending restrictions on American oil companies providing bunkers except on Chinese-owned or chartered carriers bound to or from North Vietnam, North Korea, or Cuba. This relaxation covers ships as well as planes, but would not affect our existing controls on entry to PRC carriers into U.S. ports.
  • —Granting permission to U.S. vessels to carry Chinese cargoes between non-Chinese ports, and for U.S.-owned foreign flag vessels to call at Chinese ports.
  • —Commencement of a relaxation of controls on direct trade between the U.S. and China by placing individual items under general license for direct export to the PRC after item-by-item interagency review to determine if they are of strategic significance. The Under Secretaries Committee is to be charged with the responsibility of determining which items should be placed on general license, and should forward a report within 30 days requesting approval of these determinations. Upon the commencement of these limited direct exports, direct imports from China of a similar and correlated nature will be allowed.3

The President has also directed that the Under Secretaries Committee review and report to him after a period of four months the results of the steps taken. The report should include an assessment of the reactions to these steps by the PRC and the GRC.4 The President will then determine whether implementation of additional steps recommended by the Under Secretaries Committee may be warranted.

Henry A. Kissinger
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–223, NSDM Files, NSDM 105. Secret. Copies were sent t. Connally, Stans, Moorer, and Shakespeare.
  2. See Document 111.
  3. The President announced these changes on April 14. See Department of State Bulletin, May 3, 1971, pp. 567–577. The changes were forwarded to all diplomatic posts in circular telegram 63580, April 15. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 1 CHICOMUS) The Departments of State, Commerce, Transportation, and Treasury announced the regulations designed to implement the President’s decision on May 7. (Department of State Bulletin, May 31, 1971, pp. 702–704) The White House announced the list of products that could be sold under general export licenses (without the need for Department of Commerce permission for each transaction) on June 10. (Ibid., June 28, 1971, pp. 815–817)
  4. The Department of State kept the White House informed on the largely positive reactions to this decision. (Memorandum from Eliot to Kissinger, April 17; National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, FT CHICOMUS) The Department, relying upon a CIA report, also informed Kissinger that the People’s Republic of China was waiting to see whether it would enjoy the same trading privileges as the Soviet Union. (Memorandum from Eliot to Kissinger, April 27, with attached CIA Intelligence Information Cable; ibid., Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 521, Country Files, Far East, China, Vol. VI)