162. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Prime Minister Chou En-lai, People’s Republic of China
  • Chi P’eng-fei, Acting PRC Foreign Minister
  • Chang Wen-chin, Director, Western Europe and American Department, PRC Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Wang Hai-jung, Deputy Chief of Protocol, PRC
  • Tan Wen-sheng and Chi Chao-chu, Chinese Interpreters and Notetakers
  • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • Jonathan Howe, Senior Staff Member, NSC
  • Winston Lord, Senior Staff Member, NSC

[Omitted here is a 13-page section detailing plans for President Nixon’s February 1972 trip to the People’s Republic of China.]

Dr. Kissinger: Perhaps we should then begin the substantive discussion, if the Prime Minister agrees.

PM Chou: Alright.

Dr. Kissinger: The first subject is the subject of the normalization of relations and Taiwan. I would like to sum up what is my recollection of what I told the Prime Minister when we met in July. I told the Prime Minister that we would withdraw the forces on Taiwan that are related to the war in Indochina within a short period after the war in Indochina. I said that we would reduce the other forces progressively over a somewhat longer period of time and faster if our relations improved.

PM Chou: At that time you didn’t mention a final date.

[Page 499]

Dr. Kissinger: That is correct. We understand the evolution we are aiming for. (Chou nods) I said that we are not advocating a two-China solution or a one China, one Taiwan solution.

PM Chou: Is it likely to realize a situation of one China and two governments as put forward by the State Department?2 I have thought a lot about it. That is why we directed our spearhead of criticism to the State Department and Mr. Bush. But we didn’t direct our criticism at Mr. Rogers after he put forward this proposition in the name of your government. Only in our press. Only after Mr. Bush put it forward did we put forward a foreign ministry statement on 20 August.3

Dr. Kissinger: We noted your statement and truly you used restraint, and I will say a word about it in a minute. You have showed great restraint in what is for both of us a very difficult situation. I will explain it in a minute.

I said that we wouldn’t support or encourage the creation of an Independent Taiwan Movement. If you have any information that any American, official or unofficial, is encouraging such a movement, I understand that you will inform us and you have our promise that it will be stopped. We will oppose—

PM Chou: And the demonstration which took place in front of the UN Headquarters at the beginning of the UN General Assembly, was it premeditated by them or was it world-wide?4

Dr. Kissinger: To the best of my knowledge it had no encouragement from the US government, and I am not aware of the fact that it was a world-wide plan. However, I will look into it when I get back, and I will inform the Prime Minister of the results of my investigation through our channel.

PM Chou: These demonstrations for so-called Taiwan independence started with the convening of the UN in New York, and there was a series of demonstrations in other places in the US and Japan and even extending to Taiwan, and they are continuing. And I can send some of the material we obtained about this for you.

Dr. Kissinger: If you will send me the material, I will start an investigation when I get back from here and send you the result of our [Page 500] investigation, but I can assure you we are giving no encouragement whatsoever to such a movement.

PM Chou: The CIA had no hand in it?

Dr. Kissinger: As I told the Prime Minister the last time, he vastly overestimates the competence of the CIA.

PM Chou: They have become the topic of discussion throughout the world. Whenever something happens in the world they are always thought of.

Dr. Kissinger: That is true, and it flatters them, but they don’t deserve it.

PM Chou: According to the US set-up, is the CIA under the NSC?

Dr. Kissinger: The CIA is technically under the White House. Technically. Before they engage in the sort of operation the Prime Minister refers to, they have to make a request to a committee of which I am chairman and on which other agencies usually have a voice, but not inevitably.5 No such operations have been authorized. Nor has such an operation been proposed. I am being candid—this is not information we generally tell other governments.

I cannot absolutely exclude, again speaking totally frankly, that some office does something unauthorized sometimes. It’s extremely improbable and after a period of months we would certainly find out. It’s possible it could happen, but not on a large scale.

PM Chou: The Pentagon is not responsible for them?

Dr. Kissinger: The Pentagon has also an intelligence organization, but it also doesn’t have authority to do these things. Again I would like to propose the following to the Prime Minister. If you have any information of any American engaging in those activities and you give me his name, I can promise you in the name of the President he will be removed. It’s impossible for him to do it without being discovered by you and us. We are talking about unauthorized actions now.

PM Chou: This is a question which we may raise—it’s a little complicated question, because it’s a matter of your internal affairs but also an international problem.

Dr. Kissinger: You can raise it, and we will not consider it an intervention in our domestic affairs.

PM Chou: They have activities throughout the world. That is one question that people throughout the world are most unhappy about, [Page 501] and that’s why they are not welcome. Because after the Second World War, the US is taking a hand in all kinds of affairs throughout the world and this organization had a role to play.

Dr. Kissinger: The CIA?

PM Chou: Yes. Because they have a role and have a payroll, they must feed their stomachs. So as your President said, and also as Your Excellency said, after the Second World War you appeared to be very powerful both militarily and in the matter of economic aid. So the CIA thought they had the right to look into everything. The result of this is causing disharmony in the world. Now it is less than the espionage activities of the Soviet Union. We are freely exchanging views.

Dr. Kissinger: Oh, yes.

PM Chou: It is possible that activities in the China mainland are comparatively less but not perhaps nonexistent.

Dr. Kissinger: I am not sure it’s in our interest to reassure you completely, but I will. First, you said, what will CIA agents do if they don’t make revolution somewhere? Most write long, incomprehensible reports and don’t make revolution.

PM Chou: You can preserve methods without this. We reserve our judgment on this.

Dr. Kissinger: They are mostly from Yale and they don’t have the people.

PM Chou: He is from Yale [pointing to Winston Lord]?6

Dr. Kissinger: Does he look like a revolutionary?

PM Chou: Those reports you referred to are intelligence. While you use the word revolution, we say subversion.

Dr. Kissinger: Or subversion. I understand. We are conscious of what is at stake in our relationship, and we will not let one organization carry out petty operations that could hinder this course, what you described yesterday evening in your toast.7 You must have noticed that since my visit in July a whole list of things which used to be routine, especially in the military, have been changed.

But we will review all those activities once again, and I want to repeat that we will not consider it an intervention in our affairs if you will point out those measures that affect you directly, either in respect to the Taiwan Independence Movement or other, and call them to our attention. It’s not our policy to subvert the government of the People’s Republic of China or its policy.

[Page 502]

PM Chou: I just raised this question initially. When we discuss the question of Japan, I will raise it again. This is a matter which Taiwan also has complained of. Chiang Kai-shek and his son are very much worried about this.

Dr. Kissinger: Both the People’s Republic and the Taiwan authorities have the same view on this matter.

PM Chou: That’s right. For instance, we have set up the People’s Republic for 22 years. We will not have some of our CIA people go to the US to indulge in activities. Even if a delegation went to the US, we would be very careful that there is no misunderstanding because what we are seeking is friendship between the two peoples. Because to change the system of any particular country, that is the responsibility of that particular country and cannot be done by any foreign countries, and we persist in this.

For instance, we are spending such a great effort to help in Vietnam, but we never entered into Vietnamese affairs. Also in Cambodia. The Government of Cambodia is in Peking, but some members are in Cambodia itself. There are often internal disputes within their government, and sometimes when they ask for our mediation, we say we will not stick our hands into it. But the amount of articles we carry in our press concerning publications and reports regarding the Royal Union of the government of Cambodia is unprecedented in our press and world history. Norodom Sihanouk has already published 21 proclamations to his people, and we have published them in our press and we have published them in full without changing a word. If you say there’s no freedom in our country, that is the greatest freedom. We respect them and do not disrespect their sovereignty because the head of state is in our country.

You may have some experts study this and see if any government dares to do this. How did the British behave towards DeGaulle during the Second World War? The former American Government gave support to the Kerensky government in exile8 and also supported the government in exile of the three Baltic states. At the same time you are now supporting the so-called government in Taiwan, but you have never given them such privileges in your press. You can refute me in one way. Your press is owned privately while ours is not. That’s the question because there’s a question of profit. But we devote a great amount of space to their publications.

Nevertheless there are some people who say Sihanouk is not free in China and is a prisoner and even worse. I really can find no example [Page 503] of a head of state invited abroad who has such extensive freedom. Sihanouk wants to visit Europe, and we now have a possibility of sending him with our special plane because we have now an exit via the countries in central Asia; as you went last time, Pakistan and Tehran.

Dr. Kissinger: Spectacularly beautiful.

PM Chou: We have established relations with all these countries. He will go all the way to Romania and Yugoslavia. Only Greece we have not established relations with. One thing we cannot do. After our special plane sends Sihanouk to Europe, we cannot guarantee his safety. Saboteurs may come. They may come from the side of the Lon Nol/Matak clique. If it does come from that clique then it will involve you. That is a very natural logic followed in the world. So we are always considering how to guarantee his safety. We can guarantee his safety in China itself. But if he is to go abroad we can guarantee his security on our plane.

Dr. Kissinger: Wouldn’t the French Government guarantee his safety?

PM Chou: He doesn’t want to go there because France does not recognize him.

Dr. Kissinger: Where is he going?

PM Chou: Where I said. Romania, Yugoslavia, Algeria, and probably the United Arab Republic of Egypt. Because activities of saboteurs can be carried out easily. It can happen within the US. They may even put a plastic bomb outside the plane to destroy the plane. When I went to the Bandung Conference in 1955 I almost lost my life.

At that time we chartered an Indian plane, the “Kashmir Princess” from Hong Kong. Because Prime Minister U Nu wanted me to go with him, I went to Burma. He asked Nehru and Nasser to go with him and I changed my route at the last minute while the others went via Hong Kong. The saboteurs thought I was on the “Kashmir Princess” and set a time bomb on the plane. Just as the “Kashmir Princess” was about to reach Bandung, it exploded in mid-air and crashed into the sea.

India, together with authorities in Hong Kong, investigated the bombing. We have evidence that the bomb was placed by a Chinese who was brought over to Hong Kong, and I convinced the Indian Commissioner to go directly with our people to Hong Kong and demand from the Hong Kong authorities that they arrest that man. But such news leaks out, and the Indian told his Embassy, and just as we got to Hong Kong that man flew to Taiwan. So such things are sometimes not the responsibility of that government, and some individuals may do it on their own.

As for international hijacking, we do not approve those activities. It’s too unreasonable. Such adventurous acts are not a good practice, regardless of the motives behind it, whether it is revolutionary or of a [Page 504] saboteur nature. I say these not as superfluous words but to explain how people of the world think of the CIA. As for we ourselves, we are not very much excited by the CIA. Maybe indirectly. I didn’t know Dr. Kissinger was the chairman of the committee.

Dr. Kissinger: Not for day-to-day things. Day-to-day things I don’t know. I am only told of something that can have major foreign policy consequences. Not the sort of thing the Prime Minister described. I would not even hear about that.

PM Chou: They would seal you off. There are often some organizations that even though you are their chairman the more they seal you off. Chairman Mao has a thesis: those who hail you are not the ones who support you. He said it to Edgar Snow. There are three types of such persons. Those who support you and hail long life; they really support you; others support you maybe a little; and third, those who are double dealers and applaud you but under the table their feet kick you. Such people probably exist no matter the system.

Dr. Kissinger: I see many of those.

PM Chou: This will exist probably 10,000 years hence and even one million years hence, so long as human society exists. When humanity on earth disappears there may be people on other stars. This is a common phenomenon of society. One must be cool-headed and analyze things. And so you said that after the July 15 announcement, the majority supported it, and a minority were against it. I believe that. It’s also true in China. There’s no such thing as unanimous approval of agreement.

Dr. Kissinger: Only for those not worth making. (laughter)

PM Chou: Not really unanimity, but a carefree manner. This may be outside our discussion but this is a heart-to-heart discussion.

Dr. Kissinger: For friendship we must be frank and know how each feels. I appreciate how the Prime Minister feels and he can be certain it will be taken absolutely seriously. We will not let officials subvert the trend we have started.

PM Chou: We must be prepared in our minds. There will be some who will want to subvert it. Only when we have such a preparation can we do our things well.

I think your colleagues have never heard someone on the other side saying such things. So it’s only the second meeting, and I am saying what I want to you. You and Mr. Lord are familiar with this but not Miss Matthews and our new friend [referring to Jon Howe]. You probably thought the Chinese Communist Party has three heads and six arms. But, lo and behold, I am like you. Someone you can talk reason with and talk honestly. Back to Taiwan. I thought it was beneficial to say something about the CIA just then.

[Page 505]

Dr. Kissinger: It’s very important because in the relationship of our two countries much depends on confidence. There will be many ambiguous events and it is important to understand what we are really thinking.

A few more words about Taiwan. As I also said last time, we will not support, and indeed we will oppose, the establishment of Japanese military forces on Taiwan, military influence on Taiwan, and to the extent we have influence in Japan we will oppose an attempt by Japan to support the Taiwan Independence Movement.

We will support any peaceful resolution of the issues in the Taiwan Straits, and we will not be an obstacle to it.

We are prepared to move towards a normalization of relations with the People’s Republic of China, and we understand what you have in mind.

All of this the President will reaffirm in restricted meetings to you, Mr. Prime Minister, and to Chairman Mao.

I would like to add a few other observations if I may. With the same frankness with which the Prime Minister has spoken to me, I have to tell him that for us this is, of course, a somewhat painful process. We have worked with the Government of Taiwan for many years and whatever the course of the history that produced this, it is not easy for us to make the changes which we have outlined to you. Also there are many elements in the US who are violently opposed to the policy we are pursuing and who will be even more opposed to it as it begins to unwind.

We recognize that the People’s Republic considers the subject of Taiwan an internal issue, and we will not challenge that. But to the degree that the People’s Republic can on its own, in the exercise of its own sovereignty, declare its willingness to settle it by peaceful means, our actions will be easier. I am not speaking of undertaking to talk towards us as we asked in 1955, but something you do on your own. But whether you do or not, we will continue in the direction which I indicated.

Secondly, I want to say a few words about the discussion in the UN. There are many elements in our bureaucracy who are, of course, pursuing the traditional policies. And since we have not told them all the details of the discussions in July, it has not been possible to instill the discipline that will be the case as the years go on. We have carried out what I told the Prime Minister we would do when I was here in July. And we have tried to keep our rhetoric also at a lower level. I think the Prime Minister will have noticed that the President has not made a public statement on the subject.

Actually, if I can speak candidly to the Prime Minister, and this is not a matter in his control, it would be best for the policies which we [Page 506] discussed if the Albanian Resolution did not pass this year. In the latest public opinion poll, there are still 62% of the American people who are opposed to the expulsion of Taiwan from the UN. And if the transition— the work of the July 15 announcement was very severe, and if there’s another shock now, the elements opposed to what we are doing will have a rallying point, and they will launch a sharp attack prematurely. I am talking very candidly to you, Mr. Prime Minister. So paradoxically, if the position that has been advanced in the UN should prevail for this year, it will make it easier to carry out the policies we described, and it will make it easier next year to moderate our policies in the UN.

But I want to assure the Prime Minister that we are not looking for a clever way out of what I told him in July. With respect to Taiwan, I think we understand that it’s possible to do more than we can say. And that some things can be left to an historical evolution as long as we both understand the way it’s going. And that, of course, everything is easier for us if the resolution is peaceful. I am sure the President will reaffirm everything that I have said.

PM Chou: The question of the UN I will discuss at some point later. Our central question of concern is Taiwan. The question of Taiwan is a question that was already solved after the Second World War, but then became a question outstanding. Because after the Second World War it was a matter of certainty that in the instruments of surrender and in the signing in 1945 Japan gave up all claims on Taiwan just as it gave up all claims to Manchuria. The difference with Manchuria is that Soviet troops had already entered into Manchuria, and Chinese troops followed immediately after. So there was no question of China’s restoring sovereignty over Manchuria. Although at the beginning the majority of it was occupied by Chiang Kai-shek’s troops, then the whole of Manchuria was lost and became no international problem. The so-called State of Manchukuo existed for 14 years under the military occupation of the Japanese.

The difference about Taiwan is that because of China’s defeat in 1894, China was forced to cede Taiwan to Japan. That is similar to Sakhalin Island that was conceded to Japan after the war of 1905. And it was also like the question after the Prussian War of 1870 when Alsace–Lorraine was conceded to Germany. The First World War was concluded in 1918, and the Germans lost, and Alsace–Lorraine was restored to France, and no questions asked. But during the Second World War Nazi Germany occupied even greater areas of France. After the Allies won victory, all of France was restored.

So when one says that Taiwan was under Japan for a long period of time, it was only fifty years and if you compare to Alsace–Lorraine, it was two years less. It’s clear. I have never been to Taiwan, but I have [Page 507] been to Salzburg in Alsace–Lorraine and it was clear that the inhabitants there spoke German. You noticed. So the vast majority of people on Taiwan spoke Fukien dialect. Some learned Japanese.

Dr. Kissinger: The Japanese claim is no problem for us.

PM Chou: But there does exist this adverse current in the world, and they say the status remains undetermined. That’s entirely absurd.

Dr. Kissinger: That’s not been said by any American spokesman since June.

PM Chou: That was trouble provoked by your State Department, and then you forbade them to say more. Britain now wants to raise the level of representation to Ambassador. I can tell you something here, but please don’t make it public.

Dr. Kissinger: Nothing here will be made public and not outside the President. This goes only to the President.

PM Chou: I believe that. And I have even more confidence in the young. Old politicians sometimes have too many connections. The British Government says that the government of the United Kingdom acknowledges the position of the government of the People’s Republic of China that Taiwan is a province of the People’s Republic of China. That is clear and acknowledging the law. Not recognize but acknowledge. So for lawyers there might be a slight differentiation between acknowledge and recognize. That is a question of International Law.

What is more the British Government says as soon as it has declared this, the British Consulate in Taiwan will be withdrawn.

Third, the British Government said they will openly declare this and vote for the Albanian resolution. You know this. When your Deputy Secretary of State was visiting Europe, the British made its attitude very clear. So logically that should be sufficient.

Then there was a reservation that this was not to be made public. That is British diplomacy, that is the way the British Government said they themselves would not promote the theory that the status of Taiwan remains undetermined, but would not try to persuade any government. But when asked its position, the British Government says its position remains unchanged. So that is very interesting.

[At this point there is a short break.]

PM Chou: Sorry, I didn’t think of everyone taking break.

Dr. Kissinger: We followed your lead.

PM Chou: So it’s clear that if we are to proceed from expediency we can agree with this formula of the British Government, that they will not say unless asked. More people can support this, but we do not consider this acceptable. On this matter one should proceed with an earnest attitude on international problems.

Dr. Kissinger: What will you not accept?

[Page 508]

PM Chou: That final reservation, which the British Government said, that its policy will not change. There will be a consequence to that. That state of affairs of being asked whether its position has changed may not occur. From the standpoint of the British Government it should not reserve that attitude, because the British Government is a signatory to the Cairo Declaration. At that time participating were the heads of government of the US, Britain, and China. Also the British were signatories to the Potsdam Declaration.

What about the historical facts? Afterwards the British Government sent someone to take over Taiwan and had a provincial governor established. At that time no difference of view was expressed by the allies. So after the Chinese people had overthrown the rule of the Chiang Kai-shek clique, President Truman declared that Taiwan had returned to the Chinese people, and the US had no interest in territory there. There are documents stressing that. The decision of President Truman at that time was of no concern to the existence or not of Chiang Kai-shek.

Just because of the Korean War he suddenly decided to send in the Seventh Fleet to Taiwan and advisors, and from that time he declared Taiwan and the Taiwan Straits under American protection. He mentioned nuclear devices, that there were devices there.

And so later on in the San Francisco Peace Treaty with Japan he uses a very strange formulation to declare this. In it it was said that Japan renounces all claim to all such and such territories, that is to say, Japan renounces claim to all such territories with the exception of the four principal islands of Japan—Honshu, Hokkaido, Shikoka, and Kyushu and that with the exception of these four principal islands, Japan would not claim any others. Japan renounces claim to the southern side of Sakhalin and the Kuriles, and the position of the Ryukyus, including Okinawa, remained open and also Taiwan and the Spratley islands. But it was not specified in the San Francisco Treaty to whom they belong. It was left to the countries. I don’t know who drew that up.

Dr. Kissinger: Dulles, the Prime Minister’s old acquaintance.

PM Chou: So afterwards individual treaties were made with Japan. At that time Chiang Kai-shek was only a small dynasty hanging on to Taiwan, with American protection, so what could he say? He could only act as he was told to do. He himself sits on Taiwan, but in the treaty with Japan it does not specify who Taiwan reverts to, only saying Japan gives up all claim. If I call him a traitor, I have every reason to do that.

Dr. Kissinger: He claims, too, that there’s only one China but that is the Island of Taiwan.

PM Chou: I am talking about in the Peace Treaty of Japan. I tell the way that it is in the Peace Treaty with Japan.

[Page 509]

Dr. Kissinger: I understand.

PM Chou: When you made your agreement with Japan to revert Okinawa and the Ryukyus to the Japanese, Chiang Kai-shek asked why you were not returning them to China.

Taiwan is cursing us about the Ryukyus; not just about Okinawa. Because in history during the Ming and Ching dynasties the rulers of those islands and maybe even earlier…I will not go into the historical facts of that, but I am certain those islands sent gifts to the Chinese Emperor and were looked upon as tributary states. Maybe they were sent envoys to show concern for them. It merely shows relations between states. But in the factual empire days it was looked on as tributary states. Such things occurred in the Ottoman and Roman and Inca Empires in ancient days. All states that had relations with them were looked upon as belonging to them. If that’s to be considered, then the world will be overturned and the world turned into chaos. The ownership of Taiwan and the Pescadores are not stated in the so-called Peace Treaty with Japan, and so it’s null and void.

Chiang did not settle this problem. Later in order to seek protection from Dulles, he no longer mentioned that in his treaty. Particularly after the conclusion of the SEATO treaty and Dulles went to Taiwan and Chiang Kai-shek, he didn’t dare to raise this question.

It’s a ludicrous state of affairs because the situation in Taiwan remained undetermined and the government itself is undetermined. He claims to represent the whole of China, but he was overthrown by the Chinese people. The place he is sitting in now, the status of that island, remains undetermined. From this point of view it can be said his government is hanging in mid-air.

This is a question that must be made clear. We ask the British Government why they insist on that reservation, and the British Government said that during the Conservative Government it was stated in Parliament. But that is not the only reason because a party is capable of changing its policy. For the new to replace the old it is a natural phenomenon. Why is it then that the British Government insists on maintaining what it said 20 years ago? That is because in their minds they think there will certainly be a day when the movement for so-called Taiwan independence will rise up in accordance with the theory that the status remains undetermined. Of course, first of all Japan advocates that point of view and secondly, they have in mind the United States.

So what I would like to clarify with Dr. Kissinger today is that is it the stated policy of the United States Government that it still wants to maintain the point of view that the status of Taiwan remains undetermined or is it the US Government policy that Taiwan is already returned to China and is a province of China? As to how the Chinese people will solve the question of the Taiwan regime, that is of secondary [Page 510] importance. I have told you that last time. I replied to you already that we will try to bring about a peaceful settlement, the last morning before you left.

Dr. Kissinger: I remember.

PM Chou: So what is your point of view on the theory of the undetermined status of Taiwan? (Pauses) Maybe it’s difficult for you.

Dr. Kissinger: It is. (laughter)

PM Chou: I have discovered this.

Dr. Kissinger: I want to formulate my answer with some precision and I don’t have the same clarity of mind as the Prime Minister.

Let me separate what we can say and what our policy is. We do not challenge the fact that all Chinese maintain that there’s only one China and that Taiwan is part of that China. And therefore we do not maintain that the status in that respect is undetermined. How this can be expressed is a difficult matter, but we would certainly be prepared in a communiqué that might be issued to take note of the fact that all Chinese maintain that there is only one China. So that is the policy of this government.

PM Chou: That is the first point. Any second point?

Dr. Kissinger: That is the point of our policy. The second point is what can be said, and I think I have answered that also. I can also assure the Prime Minister that the phrase “undetermined” will not be repeated.

PM Chou: If in the international arena certain countries, for instance Japan, or some other countries, were to raise this either in the UN or some other public forum in the world, what would your attitude be when they say the status is “undetermined”?

Dr. Kissinger: Let me tell the Prime Minister that I have not discussed this particular question in detail with the President. So I can only give my impression. If I am wrong, I will give him the answer through our channel. I will never deliberately mislead him. (Chou nods)

Let me say two things. First we are not encouraging any government to maintain the position that the status is undetermined. The British Government’s position is an independent position and not at our encouragement.

Secondly, if a government raises this issue without our encouragement, we would certainly not support it. And I think the Prime Minister will have noticed that in our UN statements, no matter how distasteful they may have been to him, we took great care, and if the bureaucracy had been more pliable greater care, but we took great care not to mention the independent state of Taiwan. I think I can say to him with some confidence that we will do nothing that will encourage [Page 511] the elaboration of a two-China or one-China, one-Taiwan policy, in whatever form it’s presented. Our attempt will be to bring about a solution within a framework of one China and by peaceful means.

I will check this with the President and confirm it through our channel. The last sentence I can confirm now, i.e. I can confirm our policy of one China by peaceful means. But not the sentence on what tactical position we will take if another government raises whether the status of Taiwan is undetermined. I can confirm our position to bring about peaceful solution within the framework of one China. To “bring about” may be too active; “to encourage” is more correct. It’s for the Chinese themselves to settle. It’s not something we should actively push. We should try within the framework of one China. What tack we will take if another government raises the status as undetermined, I believe it will be that we will not support it, but I will check it with the President when I return.

PM Chou: Another question which is related to this question, that is when Taiwan, under the rule of the Chiang Kai-shek clique, is returned to the motherland—of course Taiwan was returned to the motherland, but because of the Chiang Kai-shek rule there is a problem— but should it be returned, then the US treaty, which we have never recognized, will it be possible to have it null and void at that time?

Dr. Kissinger: When Taiwan and China become one again by peaceful means then the treaty would lapse. It is not a permanent feature of our foreign policy to be maintained under such circumstances.

PM Chou: From our side our position is that although we have all along considered that treaty to be null and void and do not recognize it, but still our requirement at the time of your withdrawal of all military from Taiwan and as you remove all military installations from there, would be to declare the treaty null and void.

Dr. Kissinger: We understand your position and we hope that by that time the evolution will have reached a point where formal action may be unnecessary.

PM Chou: Only then can there be establishment of diplomatic relations.

Dr. Kissinger: I understand the Prime Minister’s point of view.

PM Chou: That is the present situation of Taiwan no longer exists, and all US armed forces and military installations have been withdrawn from Taiwan, and the Taiwan Straits area. And the treaty which was to protect the Chiang Kai-shek clique will become abrogated. You say “lapsed.” When that time comes there will be no longer difficulties between China and the United States, and only then it is possible for diplomatic relations between China and the United States.

Otherwise it’s not possible for us to go to Washington, to have two Chinese Ambassadors there. Your President and you may come here [Page 512] because there is only one United States here as far as we are concerned. But I cannot go to the United States because there’s the so-called ambassador of Chiang Kai-shek there. The differences are clear. You would not allow the Chiang Kai-shek ping pong team to perform in front of the White House but it did perform there [Washington] and so while it is there our ping pong team could not go. There is this difference.

Dr. Kissinger: I understand.

PM Chou: But from our point of view what is even more urgent than the Taiwan question is your withdrawal from Indochina. We can discuss this this afternoon. I discussed other thing. For you too it’s a most urgent matter.

Dr. Kissinger: Before we come to that I would like to answer one question.

PM Chou: That will be this afternoon.

Dr. Kissinger: The Prime Minister asked what our position would be once Taiwan has come back to the motherland. When Taiwan and China become one, we can abrogate that treaty. That’s not a problem. Once there is formal unification, there’s no reason for us to have a treaty with a province of China. We will present no obstacle in the way of such a political evolution. If the event that the Prime Minister mentioned in my last meeting should come about, either Chiang Kai-shek or his son should return to the mainland, we will not discourage it. To be very frank with the Prime Minister what we would like most and what we would encourage is a peaceful negotiation after which all the military relationships would be at an end.

PM Chou: Assistance or relationships?

Dr. Kissinger: After there is a political settlement between Taiwan and mainland China, yes. We will not insist on maintaining an American presence or military installations on Taiwan after unification of China by peaceful negotiations has been achieved. And in those conditions we will be prepared to abrogate formally. If there’s no peaceful settlement, which is the second contingency, then it’s easier for us to withdraw our military presence in stages, which I indicated to the Prime Minister than to abrogate the treaty.

PM Chou: I understand. But then Japan would go in.

Dr. Kissinger: We would not stand for that.

PM Chou: That is an important question.

Dr. Kissinger: We have a common interest there.

PM Chou: That is right. What they want to do is replace you.

Dr. Kissinger: Mr. Prime Minister, we have no interest in the military expansion of Japan.

PM Chou: That’s right because they have threatened in the past not only China but all countries in the Pacific. We remember that clearly.

[Page 513]

Dr. Kissinger: It would be a very shortsighted policy.

PM Chou: We think the Laird speech in that connection is not very appropriate.9

Dr. Kissinger: It has been denied that he made it, but never repeated.

PM Chou: He said something like that when he returned to Washington.

Dr. Kissinger: Some friends have asked what I would do after I left this job, and I said I would run a school for unruly boys.

PM Chou: That’s not an easy thing to run such a school. I would not like such a job. Some people don’t listen to you even if they are claiming to be of the same party or claim to listen to you. While there’s humanity in the world there will be such people.

Dr. Kissinger: Let me be more honest with you than I have been with any other foreign leader. I have to select those issues on which to enforce discipline. I am—

PM Chou: It’s not possible to go out in all four directions. Then you will be like Don Quixote.

Dr. Kissinger: Therefore, we choose to enforce discipline only on those statements that have practical consequences. We cannot keep Laird from making statements. But we can keep him from drawing practical consequences.

PM Chou: That’s why we made a point of writing a commentary about Laird. And that was not a government statement. Only a press commentary. We only made two comments on Cabinet members of your government since you left.

Dr. Kissinger: We noticed that.

PM Chou: That is formal commentaries. In the UN those who support us—

Dr. Kissinger: We understand.

PM Chou: Our only formal commentary was that on August 20. Dr. Kissinger: Some of your less formal are more vehement.

PM Chou: No matter, you know that is “firing empty guns.” When we say “down with imperialism” it’s for the people of the countries concerned. The same when we say “down with revisionism.” If the people of the Soviet Union don’t rise up to overthrow their leaders, it’s empty cannon. We fire one empty cannon at them and they fire back 100 at us. We would not say they are doing it a 100 times. It’s not worth it.

[Page 514]

So we must differentiate our comment. When it’s actual policy we must be very prudent because in those matters what we say must count; it must be based on principle not just empty cannons. You cannot fire cannon at random, but if you were to then we would be happy no one would believe in those words. You understand this better than the Soviets.

What I ask now is that you affirm that you don’t want Japanese armed forces to go into Taiwan and this must be affirmed only while your armed forces are in Taiwan. Isn’t that so? You had already admitted in the time of President Truman that Taiwan was Chinese territory and you noted her ambitions toward it, and it was also President Truman who sent troops to Taiwan. The Republican Party is not responsible for that but since you are already there you must be responsible for the situation. Because after you went into Taiwan and with the conclusion of the treaty of 1954, this matter became not only a matter of internal Chinese affairs but of international affairs. We do not advocate using armed forces against you. These discussions began first in August 1955. Only now can we say that we are earnestly going into negotiations. When we say of the Japanese going into Taiwan, it includes the military aspects as well as the economic and political aspects. This is something not only we but Chiang Kai-shek is following closely too. Just some time ago the elder brother of Sato, Kishi, went to Taiwan where he was to attend the meeting of The Cooperating Committee of Taiwan, Japan and South Korea. Three pro-Japanese chieftains on Taiwan took part in this meeting.

Dr. Kissinger: Chieftains?

PM Chou: Main people. On the civil side is Chang Ch’un, the Secretary General of the Chiang Kai-shek clique; on the military side is Huang Chieh, the Minister of Defense of the Chiang forces. He still has influence on Chiang Kai-shek’s troops. Chiang Kai-shek is very ill at ease about him. He was my captain at the Whampoa Academy when Chiang Kai-shek was head and he was military commissioner and was director of teaching. In his middle age he was quite able to fight. Chiang Kai-shek is quite fearful of him. But is in quite good health and not dying so Chiang Kai-shek is worried about him. The third man called Ku Cheng-kang is a subordinate of Hui Ting, a member of the Central Committee and also the President of the Japanese–Chinese Friendship Association.10

[Page 515]

After you left in the latter part of July, both Chang Ch’un and Ku Cheng-kang visited Japan. At this time Japan made some suggestions to them, that is to find a formula to solve the problem of the UN. But the formula cannot be agreed to by Chiang Kai-shek, that is to say that those three pro-Japanese elements would be willing to turn Taiwan into a subsidiary state of Japan. Towards the latter part of the war of aggression, shortly before the Pacific war, there was a time when President Roosevelt was paying attention to what to do with Southeast Asia, and those three men I mentioned all wavered. If you meet Mr. Service,11 he will tell you about these three men, and he will tell you the same thing. When I met some days ago more than 60 American friends, I did not mention these men but I saw that Mr. Service knew what I meant, this plot was being hatched by them. There were some young American friends who did not know about this.

So if such a state of affairs cropped up what would be your attitude?

Dr. Kissinger: The Prime Minister always produces dialectic answers in me because I am in the People’s Republic of China. Maybe he is engaging in subtle teaching. The relatively easy part is the projection of a Japanese military presence to Taiwan. It’s out of the question while there are American forces there. And if it happened while there are American forces there, it will require us to reconsider the American presence. In other words, we would oppose it. If it happens at a later stage—

PM Chou: So long as Chiang Kai-shek is still around he will not permit Japanese military forces to go in, but as you know, Chiang Kai-shek is already 85.

Dr. Kissinger: If it happened afterwards the problem would be more difficult, but in any event the US would oppose Japanese forces on Taiwan. This I can say categorically.

PM Chou: Yes, this would not conform to the treaty.

Dr. Kissinger: It would not conform to the San Francisco Treaty and would raise a whole new spectre in the Pacific, but it would cause us to reconsider our whole policy in the Pacific if Japan started sending forces outside its territory.

Secondly, the problem of political and economic expansion of Japan, I have to be honest with the Prime Minister, is a more difficult problem because it’s harder to measure. I can only say that it’s not American policy to let Taiwan become a subsidiary state of Japan. (Chou nods)

[Page 516]

PM Chou: It would be most disadvantageous to the attempts to relax tension in the Far East. In fact, it’s impossible.

Dr. Kissinger: We understand that. But it’s important we know that even before diplomatic relations we have a means of exchanging views and some visible signs of Sino–American relations, and we think that will affect the situation in Taiwan and also we believe in Japan.

PM Chou: Even now it’s affecting to a certain degree Japan, for instance, the biggest Japanese steel manufacturer. It produces 30 million tons of steel in its own structure alone. Your President has said that in a year or two Japan may catch up with the US in steel production. That is the biggest Japanese steel company. That steel company originally took part in the commission of Taiwan, Japan and South Korea. Now it openly declared that it will not go to Taiwan and on the contrary, accepted our proposition, that is to say, it declared it would give up its deal to have Taiwan as a colony.

So we can see changes are taking place. There are the conditions to make common efforts to prevent the reemergence of Japanese militarism. Those of you who are experienced about Japan since the 30’s after the Mukden incident. At that time Britain was allied to Japan. So Britain came to understand Japan later.

Dr. Kissinger: We are not discussing Japan now, but I will make one comment. I think if we treat each other with confidence there are certain things we can do together, but there is a danger that if the Chinese side acts too impetuously with respect to Japan this will bring about a forging of ties with Japan within the US and US and Japan. One attack on us is that we have sacrificed Japan for China. So some restraint on the Chinese side is necessary.

PM Chou: We are most restrained with regard to Japan because even now a state of war has not past between China and Japan in 26 years. Sato expressed a desire to see China even before President Nixon, but we pay no attention.

Dr. Kissinger: This could have the possibility of influencing the successor to Sato.

PM Chou: That is possible. Let’s not go too far off the topic. Who do you think will succeed him? Dr. Kissinger: The Japanese are very unpredictable. I think Fukuda. PM Chou: He was reared by Sato himself. Dr. Kissinger: As I told the Prime Minister yesterday, not all Japanese leaders who want good relations with China are easy to get along with. I always thought that Nakasone12 was the most nationalistic.

[Page 517]

PM Chou: He was your student, you must know about him.

Dr. Kissinger: I have known him since 1952.

PM Chou: In 1955 he came in the capacity as peace delegate to the conference. Years later he became the Director General of National Defense Ministry. After visiting the US and talking with Laird, he put out his Fourth Defense Plan. We have quite a long experience with Japan.

We have said so much about Taiwan. When we conclude our discussion we can formalize that. The most difficult topic is how we will put it down in the communiqué.

Dr. Kissinger: That’s right. It will require restraint and wisdom. I have more of the latter than the former.

PM Chou: Not necessarily. And your assistants have the ability to do that. Let us meet in the afternoon. You will go back now for lunch. We will meet at 4:00 or 4:30.

Dr. Kissinger: You decide.

PM Chou: 4:30. Once we start talking the talks go on very long.

Dr. Kissinger: But very usefully.

PM Chou: We have exchanged views without reservation.

Dr. Kissinger: That is the same for us.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 1034, Files for the President—China Material, Polo II, HAK China Trip, Transcripts of Meetings. Top Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only. The meeting was held in the Great Hall of the People. Kissinger’s topical briefing materials are ibid. Kissinger met with Chou En-lai on October 20 (Monday) from 4:40–7:10 p.m.; October 21 from 10:30–1:45 p.m. and again from 4:42–7:17 p.m.; October 22 from 4:15–8:28 p.m.; October 23 from 9:05–10:05 a.m.; October 24 from 10:28–1:55 p.m. and 9:23–11:20 p.m.; October 25 from 10:12–11 a.m. and 9:50–11:40 p.m.; and October 26 from 5:30–8:10 a.m. A short “informal memcon” of Chou En-lai’s introduction to the Americans accompanying Kissinger on the afternoon of October 20 is also ibid. See Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, vol. E–13, Documents 3641, 4344, 48, 5152, and 5456. Kissinger’s schedule is in National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 1035, Files for the President—China Materials, HAK’s October 1971 Visit. Memoranda of conversation of meetings held among Holdridge, Jenkins, and Hsiung Hsiang-huai, Secretary to the Prime Minister, are ibid. These meetings focused on preparations for the President’s trip, trade, and exchanges. See Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, vol. E–13, Documents 39 and 43.
  2. For documentation on Chinese representation in the United Nations, see Document 167 and Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume V.
  3. “Statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China, August 20, 1971,” Peking Review, 35 (August 27, 1971), pp. 5–6.
  4. In the late summer and early fall of 1971, supporters of the PRC, the ROC, and Taiwan Independence Movement all protested near the UN Headquarters in New York. See Frank Ching, “Chinese Groups in Confrontation Here,” The New York Times, September 22, 1971, pp. 1, 6.
  5. Apparent reference to the 40 Committee, a group of high-level officials who reviewed intelligence gathering and covert activity. The 303 Committee became the 40 Committee after President Nixon signed NSDM 40 on February 17, 1970, thus updating NSC 5412/2.
  6. All brackets and ellipses are in the source text.
  7. See Document 163 and footnote 2 thereto.
  8. Reference is to the Russian provisional government, July–October 1917, led b. Aleksandr Fyodorovich Kerensky.
  9. See footnote 14, Document 140.
  10. Reference is to Chang Ch’un (Zheng Qun), Secretary-General to Chiang Kai-shek from 1954 to 1972, then Senior Advisor to Chiang Kai-shek; Huang Chieh (Huang Jie), Governor of Taiwan Province from 1962 to 1969, Minister of National Defense from 1969 to 1972, then Strategy Advisor to Chiang Kai-shek; and Ku Cheng-kang (Gu Zhenggang), Honorary Chairman of the World Anti-Communist League (WACL) from 1968.
  11. John Stewart Service, U.S. Foreign Service officer and China expert who was fired in 1951 due to “reasonable doubt” of his loyalty. In 1957 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the dismissal was improper. Service, who died in 1999, retired from the government in 1962 and became a scholar at the University of California at Berkeley.
  12. Nakasone Yashuhiro, Director of Japan’s Defense Agency from January 1970 to July 1971, then Minister of Industry and Trade from July 1971 to December 1972.