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118. Message From the Premier of the People’s Republic of China Chou En-lai to President Nixon 1

Premier Chou En-lai thanked President Yahya for conveying the message of President Nixon on 5 January 1971.2 Premier Chou En-lai is very grateful to President Yahya and he will be grateful if President Yahya conveys the following verbatim to President Nixon:

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“Owing to the situation of the time it has not been possible to reply earlier to the message from the President of the U.S.A. to the Premier of People’s Republic of China.

“At present contacts between the peoples of China and the United States are being renewed. However, as the relations between China and the U.S.A. are to be restored fundamentally, a solution to this crucial question can be found only through direct discussions between high- level responsible persons of the two countries. Therefore, the Chinese Government reaffirms its willingness to receive publicly in Peking a special envoy of the President of the U.S. (for instance, Mr. Kissinger) or the U.S. Secretary of State or even the President of the U.S. himself for direct meeting and discussions. Of course, if the U.S. President considers that the time is not yet right the matter may be deferred to a later date. As for the modalities, procedure and other details of the high-level meeting and discussions in Peking, as they are of no substantive significance, it is believed that it is entirely possible for public arrangements to be made through the good offices of President Yahya Khan.”

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 1031, Files for the President—China Material, Exchanges Leading up to HAK’s Trip to China, December 1969–July 1971. No classification marking. According to a covering memorandum from Saunders to Kissinger, Hilaly called at 3:45 p.m. on April 27 and requested a 5-minute meeting as soon as possible: “He says he has an urgent message from his President having to do with Communist China.” Hilaly and Kissinger met from 6:12 to 6:30 p.m., then Kissinger met with Nixon from 7 to 7:37 p.m. (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 438, Miscellany, 1968–1976, Record of Schedule) A handwritten copy of this statement, apparently prepared by Hilaly, is attached to the typed version. The versions are identical. Hilaly also handed over a record of his December 16, 1970, meeting with Kissinger, Document 100.
  2. See Documents 99 and 100.