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151. Memorandum of Conversation1

PARTICIPANTS

  • Huang Chen, Chinese Ambassador to France
  • Tsao Kuei Sheng, First Secretary of Chinese Embassy
  • Wei Tung-Secretary to the Chinese Ambassador
  • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • Major General Vernon Walters, Defense Attaché, U.S. Embassy, Paris
  • Winston Lord, NSC Staff

Dr. Kissinger apologized for being late for the meeting, but he had been delayed at another appointment.2 Ambassador Huang welcomed Dr. Kissinger on Chinese soil and commented that he foresaw that Dr. Kissinger would be late. He noted that he had seen Dr. Kissinger at General DeGaulle’s funeral and had almost said hello. Dr. Kissinger [Page 466]responded that he in turn had seen the Ambassador, but refrained from introducing himself because of the excitement it would have caused, particularly for the Soviet Ambassador. He said that he had pleasant memories of his trip to Peking.

Dr. Kissinger then stated that he had wanted to meet the Chinese Ambassador while in Paris so as to make arrangements for future contacts.

Ambassador Huang then presented a verbal message from his government which read as follows: “The Chinese Government agrees to an interim visit to China by Dr. Kissinger for the latter part of October. Owing to understandable reasons, it would not be appropriate for Mr. Bruce to come to China.”

Ambassador Huang then said that he had another verbal message which stated that when Dr. Kissinger comes to China in the latter part of October, the special U.S. aircraft should take off directly from Alaska to land at the Shanghai airport. For further details, the Chinese would advise the U.S. concerning further contacts.

In response to Dr. Kissinger’s query about why Shanghai was suggested Ambassador Huang replied that he could only transmit the message as he received it, and that this was what he had to say.

Dr. Kissinger said that he was sure that Prime Minister Chou Enlai remembered that it was his suggestion that there be an interim visit, and thus the United States had accepted his proposal. Dr. Kissinger had told the Prime Minister that Ambassador Bruce was the one man of our ambassadorial group in whom we had total confidence, and if Dr. Kissinger was not able to go to China, Ambassador Bruce would be able to speak for the President. He had explained to the Prime Minister at the time that Ambassador Bruce would have left the negotiations in Paris. In fact, he was leaving the next week. Dr. Kissinger understood the view of the Chinese government concerning this occasion, but it would be in the two countries’ mutual interest if this were not a permanent view. For the United States hoped Ambassador Bruce could be used to maintain contact with the Chinese government on the occasions that Dr. Kissinger couldn’t do so himself.

As for the technical side of the interim visit, General Walters would be in touch with Ambassador Huang, Dr. Kissinger continued. The U.S. would require specific information as to where the meetings would take place, who would participate, and the approximate size of the delegations on both sides, as well as the length of the visit. However, Dr. Kissinger added, there was plenty of time for these matters and they didn’t have to be settled for several weeks. He did wish that Prime Minister Chou En-lai would read what he had told him about Ambassador Bruce, since it was important that the two sides keep contacts that don’t become public.

[Page 467]

Dr. Kissinger said that he had a couple of other matters to discuss. First, the U.S. was aware of the fact that the Chinese Nationalists were organizing and would intensify a campaign, together with other countries, against the meeting that has taken place in Peking and against the meeting that has been planned between the President and Chinese leaders. Part of this campaign was to describe Dr. Kissinger as a communist agent. Dr. Kissinger remarked that he could only say that the communists were not paying him very well. Ambassador Huang laughed and said that was ridiculous. Dr. Kissinger responded that it was of no concern to the Chinese and that it was his problem.

Dr. Kissinger stated that there was a second problem that could concern both countries. There was a systematic campaign to tell the press things that were allegedly discussed between Prime Minister Chou En-lai and himself in order to embarrass both sides. He wanted the Chinese to know that the only things which the U.S. had told the press were in his backgrounder, a copy of which he had given the Chinese, and anything else they read did not come from the United States Government.

Secondly, Dr. Kissinger said, the U.S. would continue to inform the Chinese of any conversations in which the PRC is mentioned that the U.S. might have with any other socialist country. And if anything should be said to the contrary, the Chinese could be sure that it was not true.

Finally, in any contact the U.S. Government would have with the press, it would reserve with the greatest restraint any commentary upon the PRC. The U.S. would consider it helpful, given the delicacy of the U.S.–Chinese relationship, if this were done on a reciprocal basis, but in any event the U.S. will do it. Ambassador Huang said this presented no problem on this side; it remained to be seen how the U.S. was able to do it. The Chinese would take care of their side.

Dr. Kissinger remarked that the American press was beside itself at this moment, particularly Mr. Joseph Alsop who was writing endless speculation on what happened in Peking. Ambassador Huang commented the Chinese had already read some of his articles. Dr. Kissinger said that none of the U.S. side had talked to Mr. Alsop, and that’s what makes him angry, that and the fact that Dr. Kissinger had gone to Peking without his permission. It doesn’t matter what the United States did, Mr. Alsop did not recognize the PRC. Ambassador Huang commented that other Americans have attitudes like him. Dr. Kissinger replied that this was a problem, that the U.S. had major opposition from right-wing groups. Ambassador Huang noted that this was one of the difficult problems for the U.S. Curiously enough, Dr. Kissinger said, it was best if the left wing were not encouraged to say too much by the Chinese. The best way to keep the right-wing groups under control was if the U.S. Government could assure them that its [Page 468]policy was an independent one. Ambassador Huang responded that he was prepared to report to his government what Dr. Kissinger had told him. Dr. Kissinger said he was very grateful.

During some tea and pleasantries, Dr. Kissinger said that he would let Ambassador Huang know through General Walters when he was coming to town secretly. If Ambassador Huang had any messages for him, he could then let him know, and they could meet. Ambassador Huang agreed with this procedure, and the meeting then concluded.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 849, President’s File—China Trip, China Exchanges. Top Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only. The meeting was held at the Chinese Embassy. Attached was a draft summary memorandum for Nixon and a July 30 short covering note by Lord. Kissinger indicated that he did not wish to forward the summary to Nixon. See Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, vol. E–13, Document 12.
  2. Kissinger was also meeting with DRV representatives in Paris. See ibid., volume VII.