155. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon 1


  • My August 16 Meeting With the Chinese Ambassador in Paris

I saw the Chinese Ambassador in Paris, Huang Chen, before my meeting with the North Vietnamese, and we covered a good deal of ground in our session which lasted one and three-quarters hours.2 Ambassador Huang was much more expansive than in our first encounter [Page 476] when he was rather stiff though friendly. His performance this time may have been due in part to our prior notification to the PRC of our cool reply to the Soviet Union’s proposal for a five power nuclear conference, which the Chinese have also rejected. Following are the highlights of my meeting with the Ambassador.

Your Trip to China

  • —After we discussed several other subjects, I proposed February 21, 1972, or March 16, 1972 (with a slight preference for the former), as a starting date for your visit to China of up to seven days. I said that we would, of course, leave it up to the PRC to select a date.3
  • —As for my interim visit, Ambassador Huang led off our meeting with an oral message which specified that Chou En-lai would personally conduct the discussions during my visit to Peking; said that I would land in Shanghai so as to pick up a Chinese navigator to take us to Peking; and asked us for our views as to agenda and procedures.
  • —I replied that I envisaged a visit of up to four days and suggested that it begin October 18–20, because I had to be in Washington for Tito’s October 28 visit. I said we would make a specific proposal about the agenda once the time was set, and asked for their views on when we should publicly announce this interim trip.

Our Relations with the Soviet Union

  • —I told the Ambassador that we had made good progress and were near agreement with the Soviet Union in the negotiations on accidental nuclear war and Berlin. I outlined the major provisions of the accidental war agreement, stressed that we had kept out all references to third countries, and said that we were prepared to sign a similar agreement with the PRC.
  • —As a result of this progress, and as I had foreshadowed to Prime Minister Chou, there was now a good possibility that you will meet with the Soviet leaders. I reaffirmed that this would take place after [Page 477] your Peking visit and said that we would give the PRC a week’s advance notice of any public announcement.
  • —I suggested that the Soviet Union’s strategy was to outmaneuver the Chinese, seeming to come closer to us because they could offer more than the Chinese. I said that we understood this strategy, and would not let it affect our new policy toward the PRC. I added that you would discuss our Soviet relations when you were in Peking and that we would be meticulous in keeping the Chinese informed of subjects which concerned them.4

South Asia

  • —I outlined our policy toward the South Asian continent and stressed that we were attempting to separate the problems of refugees and economic assistance where we wanted to help, from the political issues, specifically the question of East Pakistan.
  • —I emphasized that we face a very difficult domestic situation but that we would refuse to humiliate Pakistan and would strongly discourage others from attempting to do so. While we recognize that India had a problem with refugees, we would not be a party to its attempts to exploit this situation to settle Indian scores with Pakistan.
  • —I explained the up-coming Williams mission to coordinate relief and consult with Pakistan to develop a program which will allow a maximum number of refugees to return home and thus deprive India of any pretext for intervention.
  • —I said that we had told India that we would cut off economic aid if it started military action.
  • —Ambassador Huang, clearly acting on instructions, said that India in its efforts to create Bangla Desh “is obviously interfering in the internal affairs of Pakistan and is carrying out subversive actions.”
  • —I asked Huang to use China’s influence with Pakistan to keep it from starting military action. I suggested to Peking that it encourage Pakistan to be more imaginative politically and psychologically so as to allow the return of the refugees.
  • —I told Huang that we would understand the furnishing of military equipment by the PRC to Pakistan (they are doing it anyway).
  • —I repeated that we would do nothing to embarrass Pakistan publicly and that we welcomed any views that the PRC might have on this situation.

Other Subjects

  • —I told Huang that you would see the Emperor of Japan during his re-fueling stop in Anchorage on September 26, and that this was pre-empting an official visit by him or by you to Japan. In addition, I said that Prime Minister Gandhi had accepted your invitation, extended in April, to visit the U.S. starting November 9, with her acceptance perhaps designed to balance off the effects of the Soviet/India Treaty of Friendship.
  • —Ambassador Huang said that the PRC stood by the agreement we reached in Peking that neither side had an interest in reopening the Warsaw talks. This channel, in Peking’s view, would continue to exist in name only, being used perhaps for transmittal of bureaucratic documents. This Chinese position, which I said exactly matched our understanding, was in response to a message we had sent Peking last week. We had noted that Tad Szulc’s interview of PRC Ambassador Huang Hua in Ottawa had suggested the re-opening of these Warsaw talks. (It appears that Huang Hua’s position was inaccurately conveyed by Szulc.)5
  • —I gave to the Ambassador for his transmittal a courtesy note t. Huang Hua which gives him my telephone numbers in case of emergency, while making clear that Paris remained the primary channel and that this was strictly a contingency in case we could not contact the Chinese in Paris quickly.6
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This was a useful session. We are building a solid record of keeping the Chinese informed on all significant subjects of concern to them, which gives them an additional stake in nurturing our new relationship.7 We laid out our South Asia policy and made clear that we are not colluding against their ally. We have now foreshadowed the potentially unpleasant combination of a Moscow Summit and visits by the Emperor of Japan and Prime Minister Gandhi in a way that should make these events at the same time palatable and a reminder that we are not so eager with the Chinese that we will shy away from those countries which they dislike. The Chinese in turn were meticulous in their plans for my interim visit and their views on the Warsaw talks.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 849, President’s Files—China Trip, China Exchanges, July–October 20, 1971. Top Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only. Sent for information. A notation on the memorandum indicates the President saw it.
  2. Attached but not printed is the 11-page memorandum of conversation of this meeting held in the PRC Embassy in Paris on August 16 from 9:05 to 10:45 a.m. It was attended by Ambassador Huang Chen, First Secretary Tsao Kuei Sheng, Secretary to the Ambassador Wei Tung, Kissinger, Lord, and Walters. The meeting was arranged throug. Walters during his August 9 meeting with the PRC Ambassador to France. Haig’s August 8 instructions to Walters, and Walters’ report on the meeting are ibid., China Exchanges. See Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, vol. E–13, Documents 15, 16, and 17.
  3. The recommendations for the trip were the result of discussions among Nixon, Kissinger, and Haldeman on August 11. The proposed dates and length of the trip were determined by Republican presidential primaries scheduled for early 1972, the Soviet summit, and the expectation that the time needed for translation would slow the talks. The trip to the USSR was an important consideration. Nixon agreed with Kissinger’s statement that “so what I [Kissinger] think I ought to do is to tell their Ambassador in Paris on Monday that I don’t know anything specific, but as negotiations develop and succeed, we will in be in no position then to refuse the invitation, but we can put [it] after Peking and we intend to put it after Peking.” Kissinger continued: “So, the only part of the game plan it changes is that instead of holding the Peking date, we’ll agree on that now, but not announce it until I come back.” (Ibid., White House Tapes, Recording of conversation between Nixon, Kissinger, and Haldeman, August 11, 1971, 9:10–11:40 a.m., Oval Office, Conversation No. 561–4)
  4. After receiving instructions from Haig on August 5, Walters met with Huang Chen on the morning of August 6 (Paris time) and presented the following message: “The President wishes to call the attention of the Government of the People’s Republic of China to the following matters: The U.S. Government has not replied formally to the Soviet proposal for a conference of the five nuclear powers. It is transmitting an oral communication to the Soviet Foreign Ministry through the U.S. Ambassador in Moscow along these lines. The subject of nuclear disarmament is worthy of serious consideration. A conference would require careful preparation and agreement among the five powers as to what subjects were feasible for discussion. The views of non-nuclear states should be considered. All five powers must be willing to attend. It is not anticipated that a formal reply will be made.” (Ibid., NSC Files, Box 849, President’s File—China Trip, China Exchanges. See Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, vol. E–13, Documents 13 and 14.) A New China News Agency () release, August 7, contained a statement from the PRC Government rejecting the Soviet proposal. (Printed in Bejing Review, August 13, 1971, p. 5)
  5. Huang Hua in Ottawa on August 4. Green and Robert McCloskey met with Szulc the next day. Szulc reported to them that Huang Hua thought that the Sino-American ambassadorial talks in Warsaw would continue. On August 6 Rogers forwarded Green’s report on this conversation to Nixon and sent a copy to Kissinger. (National Archives, RG 59, S/S Files: Lot 73 D 443, Personal Papers of William P. Rogers Unlabeled Folder) On August 9 Walters delivered a message to the PRC representatives in Paris that reads in part: “The difficulty of instructing Ambassadors and keeping the contacts secret and the danger of confusion of channels would make reopening of the Warsaw channel inadvisable prior to the President’s trip.” (Ibid., Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 849, President’s File—China Trip, China Exchanges)
  6. Attached but not printed. See Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, vol. E–13, Document 18.
  7. During his August 11 meeting with Kissinger and Haldeman, Nixon summed up his approach to developing relations with the PRC and other nations:

    “They [the Department of State leaders] do not think big. Henry is, I mean, he’s probably a little off the wall, and I know that in these NSC meetings, I am too at times. The earlier ones we’ve had. Henry and I would take, we both talk about long-range strategy and philosophy and so forth. And Bill gets very impatient with this philosophy. In all honesty, what are we going to do, he says. He doesn’t understand that you must not talk about what you’re going to do outside of a framework of philosophy. You’ve got to talk philosophy; you’ve got to be a great mosaic and you put in the pieces. And State is not thinking in mosaic terms. The Communists do. The Chinese do, the Russian do. We must. The British used to. They don’t anymore, because they aren’t a power any more. And the British are only thinking about how much they’re going to get and whether or not whipped cream goes with their strawberries, going to be higher or less and that sort of thing. They’re down to the piddling little goddamn things which are not worthy of a parliament. But that’s all they’ve got to talk about. But we’ve got big things to talk about, and we’re going to play it. But on Bill, we’ll handle it well.” (Ibid., White House Tapes, Recording of conversation among Nixon, Kissinger, and Haldeman, August 11, 1971, 9:10–11:40 a.m., Oval Office, Conversation No. 561–4)