117. National Security Study Memorandum 1241


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


  • Next Steps Toward the People’s Republic of China

The President has directed a study of possible diplomatic initiatives which the United States might take toward the People’s Republic of China (PRC) with the objective of furthering the improvement of relations. These initiatives should explore the degree to which it is possible to build on recent progress. They should be put into the context of our relations towards other countries, especially the USSR and Japan.

The analysis of each possible diplomatic initiative should include:

  • —the objectives of the initiative;
  • —anticipated reaction or response by the PRC;
  • —the advantages and disadvantages of the initiative;
  • —an assessment of the possible effects on our relations with and the anticipated reactions of the Government of the Republic of China (GRC), the USSR, Japan and other nations as appropriate;
  • —an illustrative scenario by which the initiative could be pursued.

The initiatives should be placed into various groups of increasing scope and also include consideration of appropriate arms control measures included in the ongoing studies provided for by NSSMs 69 and 106 on this subject.2

The study should assume that there will be no change in our policy of recognition of or support for the Government of the Republic of China.

The President has directed that this study be prepared on a priority basis by the NSC Interdepartmental Group for East Asia and be [Page 300] submitted to the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs by May 15, 1971, for consideration by the Senior Review Group.3

Henry A. Kissinger
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, S/S Files: Lot 80 D 212, National Security Files, NSSM 124. Top Secret. A copy was sent to Moorer.
  2. See Documents 18, 97, 105, and 108.
  3. Joseph Walter Neubert, Acting Deputy Director for Policy, Planning and Coordination Staff, forwarded NSSM 124 to Green on April 23. According to Neubert, Irwin requested that the Green coordinate the Interdepartmental Group for East Asia’s work with other areas of the Department, then discuss the draft report with Rogers and himself. (National Archives, RG 59, S/S Files: Lot 80 D 212, National Security Files, NSSM 124) U.S. officials in Taipei, Tokyo, and Hong Kong were asked to provide their views on further initiatives to improve relations with the People’s Republic of China in telegram 71891, April 27. (Ibid., Central Files 1970–73, POL CHINATUS) Hong Kong Consul Genera. Osborn suggested five initiatives: organize a U.S.–PRC foreign ministers’ conference, announce publicly the end of the Taiwan Strait patrol, reduce U.S. military forces on Taiwan, establish de facto trade representation in the PRC, and have private groups invite PRC diplomats to the United States. (Telegram 2763 from Hong Kong, May 3; ibid., POL CHICOMUS) In Taipei McConaughy discussed the reactions by ROC officials to U.S. policy changes, noting that “So far this cost [in relations with the ROC] has been moderate, but to some extent it is cumulative.” (Telegram 2156 from Taipei, May 6; ibid.) On May 14 R.T. Curran, Deputy Executive Secretary, sent a memorandum to Davis to request that the report be delayed because Irwin, Green, and Trezise were traveling in Asia. (Ibid.) The final report was dated May 27; it is printed as Document 129.