137. Memorandum for the President’s File1


  • Meeting Between President, Dr. Kissinger and General Haig, Thursday, July 1, Oval Office

[Omitted here is a brief discussion of the Paris Peace Talks.]

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The President next turned to Dr. Kissinger’s proposals for discussion with representatives of the People’s Republic of China during his forthcoming side visit to Peking.2 The President stated that the communiqué resulting from the visit should not include names and that in his view the President noted that the position which Dr. Kissinger proposed to take was not strong enough, that it was far too forthcoming and that he wished him not to indicate a willingness to abandon much of our support for Taiwan until it was necessary to do so.

The President emphasized that the issue of “one China vs. two Chinas” should be mentioned only once in the conversation rather than threaded throughout it as in the present text. He stated that with respect to United Nations representation Dr. Kissinger should specifically ask for the Chinese viewpoint. Concerning the section on Vietnam the President suggested that it be reduced in length and tightened considerably.

The President stated that during the discussions he felt it was important for Dr. Kissinger to emphasize more clearly to the Chinese the threat of Japan’s future orientation. He pointed out that Dr. Kissinger should state that the Chinese must recognize that a number of nations are concerned about Asia, particularly the role of Japan in the event the United States leaves. In the case of Japan it is obvious that they have both the ability, resources, and know-how to rebuild their military in a precipitous fashion and that a total disengagement of the United States or a misapplication of forces in the area could result in a resurgent Japanese bellicosity with considerable danger for all.

The President stated that he wanted a somewhat heavier emphasis on the Soviet threat. Dr. Kissinger replied that this issue would have to be handled gingerly and that the Chinese might report what was said to the Soviets. The President agreed but stated that the way to handle this was to refer to facts rather than U.S. interpretation of these facts. For example he should tell the Chinese that we note that there are more Soviet divisions on the Chinese border than those arrayed [Page 356] against all of the NATO pact countries. He should refer to this as reports in the press.

The President summarized by stating that in his discussions with the Chinese Dr. Kissinger should build on three fears: (1) fears of what the President might do in the event of continued stalemate in the South Vietnam war; (2) the fear of a resurgent and militaristic Japan; and (3) the fear of the Soviet threat on their flank.

The President stated that prior to a summit certain accomplishments should be arrived at between the two governments. First, the release of all U.S. POWs held in China. Second, at least some token shipments of U.S. grain to Communist China. Third, some progress on the Vietnam war issue. Four, we might conclude, as the outcome of a summit, the establishment of a hotline between the two governments and some kind of agreement on the issue of accidental nuclear war.

Finally the President stated Dr. Kissinger should make it very clear to the Chinese that we expected them to institute a severe limit on political visitors prior to any summit with President Nixon. Following that summit visits of any kind would, of course, be authorized.

The President then returned to the subject of Taiwan and the treatment of it in the discussions with the Chinese. He told Dr. Kissinger to tone down any reference to the fact that Vice President Agnew and Secretary Laird had cancelled their trips. He emphasized that the discussions with the Chinese cannot look like a sellout of Taiwan. He instructed Dr. Kissinger not to open up with a discussion on what we’ve done and the fact that we will not need troops there forever, but rather to restructure that point by emphasizing that the Nixon Doctrine provides for help to those nations who help themselves and thus it will not be essential for our military presence to remain in some areas forever. The President stated that the overall statement with respect to Taiwan should be somewhat more enigmatic.

The President asked Dr. Kissinger not to mention the Truman 1950 statement with which he personally did not agree.3 In sum, the President asked him to review the entire discussion of the Taiwan issue so that we would not appear to be dumping on our friends and so that we would be somewhat more mysterious about our overall willingness to make concessions in this area.

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With respect to future meeting places between the two governments, President Nixon stated that he preferred London where communications would be secure and where the size of the city added to the kind of security that would be necessary. He instructed Dr. Kissinger to refer to London as our first choice. Warsaw would be best for diplomatic contacts, but above all, Ottawa would be unacceptable to the President.

Again concerning Taiwan the President made the point that six thousand of our troops in Taiwan were directly related to our conduct of the war in South Vietnam so that as that issue was solved the requirement for these troops would disappear.

The President stated that the section on Korea was exceptionally well done.

[Omitted here is a brief concluding discussion of the Paris Peace Talks.]

  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Geopolitical Files, China, China Trips, July 1971 Briefing Notebook. Top Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only. According to the President’s Daily Diary, Nixon, Kissinger, and Haig met from 9:18 to 9:52 a.m. and from 9:54 to 10:26 a.m. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Central Files)
  2. Reference is to a briefing book prepared for Kissinger’s trip. Nixon’s comments here closely match his handwritten notes on the cover of the briefing book: “Put in fear RN could turn hard on V. Nam. Play up our possible move toward Soviets. Not Ottawa. Leave out names on Communiqué (Agnew, Laird). Don’t be so forthcoming on Taiwan— until necessary. Prior to summit: V. Nam, grain or other trade, POW in China. V. Nam too long. Put in more fears re Japan. Summit: Businesslike, Shanghai, limit entertainment. Press: Very small delegation. Limit press to TV + wires. We pick them. Limit political visitors.” (Ibid., NSC Files, Box 1031, Files for the President—China Material, Polo I, Briefing Book for the President, July 1971)
  3. President Truman made several major statements about Taiwan in 1950, including his January 5 news conference, a June 27 statement, and a September 1 speech. (Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Harry S. Truman, 1950, pp. 11–12, 492, and 613) In the first statement, Truman emphasized that Taiwan is part of China, while in the latter two (after the start of the Korean War) he suggested that its status had not yet been determined.