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[Page 314]

123. Memorandum From the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Haig) to President Nixon 1

SUBJECT

  • Message from Norwegian Ambassador in Peking2

Ambassador Crowe in Oslo has forwarded the text of two telegrams to the Norwegian Foreign Ministry (received on April 19 and 23) from Norwegian Ambassador Aalgaard in Peking covering his conversation with the Acting Chinese Foreign Minister, Chi Peng-fei.3 I thought that you would be interested in the main points, which should be viewed in the context of events known only to you.

  • —Chi Peng-fei stressed the political importance of the American Table Tennis Team’s visit to China and maintained that this was only the beginning of extensive contacts with the American people. It was clear to Aalgaard from Chi’s remarks that the invitation to the American team was a response to the U.S. lifting of travel restrictions.
  • Mao told Edgar Snow that contact with the Russians was now impossible. The Russian people had allowed themselves to be led by the current leadership. The situation is completely different in the U.S. where the American people have demonstrated a great capacity to behave independently. China must therefore seek to establish better contacts with the Americans.
  • —Chinese sports teams will travel to the U.S. in the near future and the Chinese have a long list of American politicians, journalists and others who have expressed a desire to visit China. James Reston will come at the end of April.4
  • —China is now prepared to start a wide range of contact activity with the U.S. The U.S. rejected the Chinese proposal for such contacts [Page 315]made at the beginning of the Warsaw Talks.5 Now the conditions exist in both countries for the realization of the original Chinese idea.
  • Aalgaard felt that while the new Chinese line may be seen primarily as a face-saving device, for example with Hanoi, it is first and foremost a response to the American softer line.
  • Aalgaard also felt that in addition to the immediate utility in advancing Chinese political goals, the most recent Chinese moves should also be seen as part of a longer range policy of greater flexibility in relation to the U.S. to counter China’s greater danger, namely, increased Soviet influence in Southeast Asia and the possibility that the Soviets will fill the military vacuum which the American disengagement policy in Asia can create. Another factor is fear of an eventual Japanese nuclear capability.6
  • —The Norwegian Embassy in Peking believes that the Chinese will not immediately propose resumption of the Warsaw Talks though it is not impossible that this will occur in the last half of 1971. It is therefore assumed that the people-to-people formula will be maintained between China and the U.S. in the foreseeable future.7
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 698, Country Files, Europe, Norway, Vol. I. Secret. Sent for information. A notation on the memorandum indicates the President saw it. According to an attached covering memorandum. Holdridge drafted the memorandum for Haig on April 29.
  2. See also Document 104 and footnote 3, Document 112.
  3. Crowe combined the two Norwegian telegrams detailing Aalgaard’s conversations in Beijing in telegram 1185 from Oslo, April 27; National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 698, Country Files, Europe, Norway, Vol. I. The actual conversation between Aalgaard and Chi took place on April 14.
  4. The President underlined this sentence and added “?!” at the end of it.
  5. The President underlined this sentence.
  6. The President began underlining at the word “counter.”
  7. In a March 16 memorandum to Kissinger, which reported on Norwegian views of the PRC’s policy toward peace in Vietnam, Holdridge wrote: “Past experience makes us leery of Aalgaard’s reporting, which, we fear, is probably colored by his desire to play an intermediary role in the negotiations.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 698, Country Files, Europe, Norway, Vol. I) Crowe had also suggested to the Department of State that Oslo might be “a suitable locale for Chicom-US contact,” but apparently no action was taken toward this end. (Telgram 205 from Oslo, January 21; ibid.)