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142. Memorandum of Conversation1

PARTICIPANTS

  • Yeh Chien-ying, Vice Chairman, Military Affairs Commission, Chinese Communist Party, PRC (Second Session Only)
  • Huang Hua, PRC Ambassador to Canada
  • Chang Wen-chin, Director, Western Europe and American Department, PRC Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Tang Wen-sheng and Chi Chao-chu, Chinese Interpreters
  • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • John Holdridge, Senior Staff Member, NSC
  • Winston Lord, Senior Staff Member, NSC
  • W. Richard Smyser, Senior Staff Member, NSC

At the working session which began about 12:00 midnight on the night of July 10–11, both the U.S. and the PRC sides presented preliminary drafts of a joint statement announcing the visit of Dr. Kissinger and the summit meeting between President Nixon and the Chinese leaders.2

Present on the Chinese side were Ambassador Huang Hua, Chang Wen-chin, and the two interpreters, Mr. Chi and Miss Tang. On the U.S. side were Dr. Kissinger and Messrs. Holdridge, Lord and Smyser.

Both sides agreed that the announcement should be kept simple. Dr. Kissinger, finding the wording of the Chinese draft in certain respects to be in accordance with what the U.S. had in mind, soon took this language as the basis of the discussions (attached at Tab C).3

The first significant issue which emerged was the Chinese desire to make it appear that the President had asked for an invitation to visit China. Dr. Kissinger reminded the Chinese of the fact that it was the Chinese who had actually proposed such a visit in their communication to the U.S., although the President admittedly had commented on visiting China during a press conference. After some discussion, the [Page 438]Chinese agreed that there should be a mutually expressed desire for a summit.

A second issue which then arose was a proposal by Dr. Kissinger that the announcement not set the purpose of the summit meeting only as seeking the “normalization of relations” between the U.S. and the PRC. The Chinese, who had submitted this formulation, objected when Dr. Kissinger wanted to broaden the summit scope to state that the meeting would be beneficial to Asian and world peace. There was considerable discussion concerning this issue. The Chinese acknowledged that in the President’s message of May 19, 1971, to Prime Minister Chou, the President had suggested that each side should be free to include topics of principal concern to it in the summit discussions. Thus, something in addition to the normalization of relations was in order.

At 1:40 a.m. the Chinese asked for a thirty minute recess to permit them to consider wording which would be responsive to these two issues. They did not, however, return that night—at 2:55 a.m. the U.S. side was informed that they would not return until about 9:00 a.m. the next morning.

On Sunday morning, the Chinese returned at 9:50 a.m., accompanied this time by Marshal Yeh Chien-ying. (Prime Minister Chou remained outside pending approval of the draft announcement.) From the U.S. standpoint, the wording of the new Chinese draft (attached at Tab B) was a great improvement over that of the preceding day. The Chinese, on their own initiative, then changed the date for the summit from “in the spring of 1972” to “before May 1972.” Dr. Kissinger said this was a better formulation. With respect to the initiative for the invitation, the Chinese draft said “in view of” President Nixon’s expressed desire to visit the PRC. However, after a certain amount of give-and-take the Chinese agreed to a formulation in which Prime Minister Chou, “knowing of” the President’s desire, had extended the invitation. As to the purpose of the visit, they had included in addition to seeking a normalization of relations, the phrase “and also to exchange views on questions of concern to the two sides.” Dr. Kissinger said the U.S. preferred the phrase “peace in the world” but accepted the Chinese formulation since it met the principal U.S. concern of broadening the scope of the summit.

After further brief discussion the two sides agreed on an announcement in English and Chinese (attached at Tab A). In working during the night on a new draft to meet the U.S. concerns, and in the verbal exchanges at these sessions, the Chinese clearly made an effort to find mutually acceptable compromises. This attitude was reciprocated by the U.S. side.

There was a brief exchange on when the joint announcement should be made. Dr. Kissinger suggested the evening of July 15, U.S. [Page 439]time, while the Chinese preferred July 19. Dr. Kissinger explained that a Thursday evening announcement would allow for more intelligent coverage of the event in the American Sunday newspapers and weekly news magazines. Prime Minister Chou then entered the room to continue the discussion at 10:35 a.m.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 1032, Files for the President—China Material, Polo I, Record, July 1971 HAK visit to PRC. Top Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only. The meeting was held in the Chinese Government Guest House.
  2. The final version of the announcement is in Public Papers: Nixon, 1971, pp. 819–820. The President announced the contacts with the PRC in a television address the evening of July 15. The statement was forwarded to all diplomatic posts in telegram 128513, July 16. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 1 CHICOMUS)
  3. Tabs A–C were attached but not printed.