164. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon1


  • My October China Visit: Discussions of the Issues


Prime Minister Chou En-lai and I held very intensive substantive discussions for some twenty-five hours, building on the solid base that we had established in our July conversations. We had an additional five hours of talks at two banquets that he hosted for us and I spent many more sightseeing hours with Marshal Yeh Chien-ying, Vice Chairman of the Military Affairs Commission of the Chinese Communist Party, and Chi Peng-fei, Acting Foreign Minister, and other officials which lent greater insight into Chinese thinking.

(Attached at Tab A is a list of my meetings with Chou; at Tab B is a full itinerary of our stay, including all meetings and sightseeing tours.)2

Hsuing Hsiang-hui, the Deputy Chief of Protocol, Wang Hai-jung, plus interpreters and notetakers.

The first session on the afternoon of our arrival, October 20, was devoted to general philosophy, our overall approach to the People’s Republic of China, the agenda for our discussions, and the major questions concerning your forthcoming trip. This was followed by over ten hours of very intense discussions in three meetings on Thursday and Friday, at which, in addition to your trip, we explored the major issues [Page 525] that we had covered in July—Taiwan, Indochina, Korea, Japan, the Soviet Union, South Asia, and arms control, as well as touching on other subjects by way of illustrations. Concurrently one of my assistants and the State Department representative held two meetings on subsidiary issues such as ongoing diplomatic contacts, exchanges, and trade. And the technical people met on arrangements for your visit.

These substantive meetings provided the background and framework to enable me to table a draft communiqué for your visit, which you had seen, at the end of the meeting on Friday afternoon. On Saturday evening, in my sitting room, Chou and I settled the major remaining issues concerning the arrangements for your trip, and Chou said that his Acting Prime Minister would meet with us the next morning to begin the redrafting of the communiqué. The next morning Chou showed up instead and delivered a sharp speech. We subsequently launched right into a rigorous drafting process which Chou decided he had personally to conduct. We consumed the better part of five meetings lasting eleven hours as we went through seven drafts over a sixty hour period which included two rugged nights of drafting and negotiation, from Saturday afternoon through the morning of our departure, October 26. This process and the resulting tentative communiqué I have described to you in a separate memorandum.3 Discussions on the communiqué, of course, included a great detal of substantive exchange on the draft formulations as well as general philosophy and principles.

At the last session, in addition to clearing up the final issues concerning the communiqué, we resolved other outstanding technical problems such as the announcements concerning my visit and the date of your visit and the general public line the two sides would take.

Major Results

Against the backdrop of my July conversations with Chou there were no major surprises.

The basic premises on which we have both moved to open a dialogue remain. Both sides know there are profound differences but recognize that domestic and international constraints demand a phased resolution of outstanding issues. Meanwhile the very momentum of our joint initiative carries inherent advantages: for them, the burnishing of their global credentials, a general direction on Taiwan, and the prospect of a lower American military profile in Asia; for us, some assistance in reaching and safeguarding an Indochina settlement, and built-in restraint on Chinese activities in Asia; for both of us, less [Page 526] danger of miscalculation, greater exchanges between our peoples, and a counterweight to the Soviet Union.

PRC, being a big country, could afford to wait on issues of direct concern, such as Taiwan, while the more urgent matters were those concerning her smaller friends, such as Indochina and Korea, whom one couldn’t expect to have a broad perspective. This line is consistent with Peking’s virtuous stance of championing the cause of smaller nations and refusing to be a superpower with its characteristics of bullying and overinvolvement.

Another consistent theme, as in July, was Chou’s insistence on frankly acknowledging that there is much turmoil in the world and great differences between us. Both in our discussions and in the communiqué drafting, the Chinese showed their disdain for pretending that peace was either near or desirable as an end in itself; for submerging differences in ambiguous formulas of agreement, or for discussing such subsidiary issues as arms control, trade, or exchanges which only serve to make relations look more “normal” than they really are.

Among the general points that I emphasized were the fact that in some areas we could set trends but the policy implementation had to be gradual; that we should not push the process too fast because this would give your domestic opponents a chance to sink your initiative; and that Peking should not try to complicate our relations with our allies.

In brief, the essential outcome on each of the major topics was as follows:

  • Your trip. We achieved all of our major objectives, thanks both to our approach of minimizing our requirements and Chinese willingness to do all within their capabilities. The basic technical and substantive framework has been established: the arrangements have been agreed upon in principle; another technical advance will flesh out the details; the substantive discussion clarified both sides’ positions; and a tentative joint communiqué has been drafted.
  • Taiwan. Both sides understand the direction in which we are heading and what the U.S. can and cannot do, but we have not yet agreed on what can be said in the communiqué. We will gradually withdraw our forces from Taiwan after the Indochina war. We urge that any solution of the Taiwan question should be peaceful; and we will oppose, within our capabilities, Japanese sway over Taiwan. The PRC [Page 527] is in no hurry to get all our forces out but wants the principle of final withdrawal established; is most interested in global acknowledgment that Taiwan is part of China and its status is not undetermined; will try for a peaceful solution of the issue; and strongly opposes Japanese influence or Taiwan independence.
  • Indochina. Peking will be helpful, within limits. Both in formal and informal talks the Chinese made it clear that they hope we achieve a negotiated settlement and are saying this to Hanoi. They recognize the desirability of tranquility in Indochina for your visit and our relations generally (indeed they consider it the “most urgent” question in the Far East), as well as the link between the conflict and our forces in Taiwan. In addition to sounding these themes, I outlined the history of our private negotiations; stated that Hanoi needed Peking’s largeness of view so that there could be a settlement; and warned that we have gone as far as we can and negotiations had to succeed in the next couple of months or we would carry through our unilateral course which was more risky all-around.
  • Korea. We are both clearly sticking with our friends, but the working hypotheses are that neither side wants hostilities and neither Korea can speak for the whole peninsula. Chou pushed for equality for Pyongyang, said that a permanent legal resolution of the Korean war was required, and transmitted an abusive eight point program from their ally. I rejected the latter, said that we were prepared to consider a more equal status, and warned against North Korea’s aggressiveness.
  • Japan. We agree that an expansionist Japan would be dangerous, but we disagree on how to prevent this. Our triangular relationship could prove to be one of our most difficult problems. The Chinese are painfully preoccupied and ambivalent on this issue—they seem both genuinely to fear Japanese remilitarism and to recognize that our defense cooperation with Tokyo exercises restraint. The latter point I emphasized, pointing out that Japanese neutralism, which the PRC wants, would probably take a virulent nationalist form. I also warned against Peking’s trying to complicate Tokyo–Washington relations, a seductive temptation for the Chinese to date.
  • Soviet Union. The Chinese try to downgrade the Russian factor, but their dislike and concern about the Soviet Union is obvious. I reiterated that we would not practice collusion in any direction, that we would treat both nations equally, that we would keep Peking informed about our relations with Moscow, and that we have many concrete issues with the USSR. Chou accepted the last point, including the fact that some of our negotiations with Moscow would work objectively to Peking’s disadvantage.
  • South Asia. The PRC doesn’t want subcontinent hostilities any more than we do. Indeed the Chinese seemed more sober about the [Page 528] dangers than they did in July. Chou reaffirmed their support for Pakistan and disdain for India. In turn I made clear, in our talks and in the communiqué, that while we were under no illusions about Indian machinations and were giving Pakistan extensive assistance, we could not line up on either side of the dispute.
  • —Subsidiary Issues. The Chinese clearly want to keep the focus on major bilateral and regional issues and not get sidetracked on more technical questions that suggest a regular bilateral relationship. Thus they showed almost no interest in arms control, airily dismissed the subject of trade, and unenthusiastically included a reference in the communiqué to facilitating scientific, cultural, technical and journalistic exchanges.
  • Prisoners. We can expect some movement before your trip on at least one of the two CIA agents held by the Chinese, with release of the two pilots linked to an overall Indochina settlement. Premature public disclosure would, of course, be ruinous.

Opening Session

A brief rundown of the opening meeting is important, because it set the basic framework and tone for all the subsequent conversations.

I began by delivering the opening statement which you have seen, with some of the rhetoric pruned.4 My approach was to sketch the general principles which guide our relations toward the PRC and our attitude toward your meetings with the Chinese leaders; lay out the agenda for the following days and secure agreement on how to conduct our business; and raise the principal questions concerning the technical arrangements for your visit.

I described the U.S. attitude toward the PRC as the following:

  • —You are personally committed to an improvement in relations;
  • —Our policy is based on the profound conviction that better relations are in our interest and is not an attempt to create a power combination;
  • —We are aware that our two countries have different views and that neither the PRC nor the U.S. would trade in principles;
  • —We believe that our two countries share many congruent interests and that it is no accident that they have had such a long history of friendship;
  • —Asian and global peace requires Chinese cooperation and we would not participate in arrangements affecting Chinese interests without involving the PRC;
  • —We do not accept the proposition that one country can speak for all socialist countries;
  • —The one issue that divides us (Taiwan) is itself a product of history and if we could agree both on the general direction and a realistic process to resolve this issue, there should be no fundamental obstacle to the positive development of our relations.

I then set forth the case for gradual resolution of the issues between us, first implicitly by sketching the reactions to the July 15th announcement both at home and among our friends. I said that while we had set new currents in motion, we could not suddenly overturn traditional relationships; the old must coexist for a while with the new. Chou, here and later, acknowledged this but naturally his emphasis was on the importance of new departures. I added that foreign reaction to the July announcement was generally positive, but not all nations (e.g., the Soviet Union and India) really felt that way. I then emphasized the domestic problems you faced from some of your traditional sectors of support and the courage you have shown and which Reston had so much difficulty in acknowledging in his interview with the Prime Minister. (These were themes that I had instructed our whole party to stress in their social conversations.) Chou acknowledged that the PRC also had internal difficulties.

I then became more explicit about the need for gradualism. We had expected some of the adverse reactions and were determined to carry forward the constructive beginning that had been made in July. Both the PRC and we had been meticulous in implementing our understandings to date and were treating each other as men of honor. Looking to the future we had to sort out the questions which could be resolved immediately, from those on which we could agree in principle but would need time to implement, and those which had to be left to historical processes. We would carry out scrupulously whatever we had agreed to; this phased approach was not a pretext for avoiding fundamental problems but a guarantee that we would be successful in resolving them.

I then suggested an agenda consisting of three types of subjects:

(1) the major issues such as we had discussed in July; (2) subsidiary issues such as ongoing contacts and exchanges; and (3) the technical arrangements for your visit, the major aspects of which I then touched upon. (See the next section of this report.) Chou and I then informally agreed on a game plan for the three types of issues that we had already settled in advance through communications and a private talk I had with the senior Chinese representative who had come to meet us at Shanghai.

(This game plan was carefully followed over the next five days: On the technical subjects, I laid out the fundamental considerations and handed over the books we had prepared in advance. The Chinese [Page 530] studied these and came back with questions in meetings with technical personnel headed on our side by Messrs. Chapin and Hughes. The major issues were referred back to me and Chou and were settled in social and private sessions. Chou and I held a series of private meetings on the major substantive issues and the drafting of the communiqué. The State Department representative and a member of my staff held two sessions on the subsidiary issue of diplomatic contacts, exchanges, and trade.)

Chou made some preliminary comments on the substantive agenda which foreshadowed his approach on subsequent days. He termed Taiwan the crucial issue for normalizing our relations. He called Indochina the most urgent issue in order to relax tensions in the Far East. He moved Korea to third on the agenda, giving it a higher priority than in July, citing both sides’ responsibilities for settling this question which the 1954 Geneva Conference had not treated. His fourth and fifth topics were Japan, which he said had a far-reaching influence on reducing Asian tensions, and South Asia where both sides were concerned. He put relations with the Soviet Union sixth and last; this was not a main issue, as Peking was not opposed to our relations with any other country.

Then, clearly for the record, Chou once again said that they would prefer it if you visited Moscow before Peking. I subsequently repeated for the record that it was we who had set the date for the Moscow summit, and this was based on the ripening of conditions, not on Peking’s desires to interfere with U.S.–USSR relations. Chou eagerly assented.

Lincoln’s handling of the Civil War, and Britain’s expelling of Soviet spies. Following his regular custom, he once again put Chairman Mao’s stamp on your visit by saying that when you two meet it should be possible for you to understand each other even though your stands differ greatly.

I then sounded a warning about Peking’s making trouble for us with our allies. First, I noted that we supported Britain’s entry into the Common Market and a more unified and autonomous Europe. I added that we didn’t seek to drive a wedge between the PRC [Page 531] and its friends, and it would be shortsighted if either side tried to use the improvement in our relations as a device to destroy the traditional friendships of the other side. This would only cause the two sides to draw back into the rigidity from which they were trying to escape.

Chou rejoined this was only part of the story and could not be accepted absolutely. Since we were entering a new era it was necessary that some relations change; otherwise life would be as it was before. He cited an old Chinese proverb which says that “the helmsman must guide the boat by using the waves; otherwise it will be submerged by the waves.” I replied that we had no intention of avoiding difficult problems, such as Taiwan, but until we were able to cement our friendship we should not give domestic opponents on both sides an opportunity to destroy progress. Many were saying that China was only using the initiative as a trick to destroy our traditional relationships so as to resume the old hostilities from a better tactical position. Chou once again said that times were advancing and that we would either seize upon the opportunities presented or be submerged by the tides of the times.

This exchange set up the basic philosophic tension in our ensuing discussions as we sought, generally successfully, to strike a balance between their imperatives for change and ours for time.

Your Trip

You already know the agreements reached on the arrangements for your visit through my earlier messages, our conversations, and Dwight Chapin’s separate report.5 Our approach was to scale down our requirements to the minimum in advance, present all technical considerations in writing, let the Chinese come back to us with questions, [Page 532] and not try fruitlessly to squeeze extra mileage out of them once they told us what they would do.

This approach paid off handsomely. The Chinese appreciated our attitude, knew that we were not bargaining in conventional fashion, carefully clarified the issues so that they knew what was involved, and then agreed to the maximum that their technical capabilities would allow. In each case they met our essential requirements in terms of numbers and facilities, and when we left, there remained only a few issues on the itinerary for me to check with you.

At the opening session I outlined our general approach, stressed that we would not let technical issues interfere with the historic thrust of your visit, and then ticked off the major issues to be resolved:

  • —On the itinerary, I said that we were thinking of a five-day trip with perhaps one other stop besides Peking.
  • —On communications, I stressed the need for secure and rapid communications for the President at all times and said a ground station was the easiest method. Chou asked when a Vice President could take over some of the responsibilities of a President, and he revealed that he had read extracts of Six Crises, which showed that you had restrained yourself when President Eisenhower was incapacitated.
  • —On security, I said that we would rely on them as host country, that we had reduced our numbers drastically, and that the primary function would be for our men to serve as liaison with the Chinese security people.
  • —On the press, I explained the dimensions of the corps on other Presidential visits and how we had cut back the numbers.
  • —Finally I sketched the outlines of the official (12) and unofficial (16) party.

I then explained the books that we had prepared which showed the dimensions of past Presidential visits, the reduced optimum plan for your visit to China, and then the bare minimum plan that we had finally made.6 (During this exchange Chou revealed that, after hearing of your liking for it, he had seen the movie Patton and believed that you admired the General because he was one to break through conventions.)

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Later in this opening meeting, after I made clear that we would still proceed with the summits in the order that they were announced. Chou moved quickly to indicate that the Chinese preferred the February 21 date. He thus made it clear that there would be no haggling over this issue despite whatever other differences might crop up during the next few days. He also indicated that the Chinese were thinking of a visit lasting seven days instead of the five that I had indicated.

During the first part of our first private meeting the next morning. Chou and I explored further some of the major questions concerning arrangements. We pinned down February 21 as the date for your visit. We agreed to the general concept of meetings during your visit similar to the ones during this one—a general opening session of the two official parties, followed by private meetings between you and the Chinese leaders and concurrently between the foreign ministers, and perhaps another closing general session. And we confirmed that neither side would say anything to the press during or after your visit which was not first mutually agreed upon.

We then discussed the meeting between you and Chairman Mao. Chou said that the Chairman wanted to meet you early during your visit, after greeting the official party, and again towards the end. I said you wanted to meet alone with Mao. He rejoined that the composition of our side was up to us, but that the Chairman was always accustomed to having the Prime Minister present for specifics, although Mao was of course fully at home on general principles.

On the itinerary, we agreed that I would come back to Washington with two formulas, one for a five day visit and one for seven days. He said that he would accompany you wherever you went, made clear that they would expect you to travel on a Chinese plane, and introduced the idea of an overnight visit to Hangchow. There was further discussion of these issues during which I made another pitch for the ground station, and said that I would have to consult with you on the question of the aircraft, since an American President had never traveled on another nation’s plane.

Meanwhile the Chinese technical personnel were studying for twenty-four hours the books we had given them. On Thursday afternoon they began two days of meetings with our counterparts during which they posed a series of questions to clarify the meaning of our presentations.

After a private meeting on late Thursday afternoon, I took Chou aside and expressed Mrs. Nixon’s desire to see his country; he said he would check with Chairman Mao.

During our sightseeing trips to the Great Wall and Summer Palace, the Chinese mentioned Hangchow several times, underlining their hope [Page 534] you could go there. (Mao will probably be there, for in July Chou had said that you might be meeting him outside of Peking. However, an inconsistency arises since Chou has said that you would meet Mao early in the trip and Hangchow would come at the end of it. Since there will be two meetings between you and Mao, there could be one in Peking early in the visit and one at Hangchow at the end.)

At 9:00 p.m. on October 23 Chou came to my sitting room in the Guest House and proceeded to settle the major outstanding technical issues. He first accepted the overall dimensions of the Presidential party and support group, i.e. some 350 personnel. He said the Chinese had accepted these numbers out of respect for our having cut down the figures drastically in advance. (Chinese acceptance included 80 press. This represents a large incursion for them, but they explained on other occasions that their only concern was whether they could properly accommodate all the journalists, including having sufficient interpreters.)

Having heard our preference for a five day visit and that a trip to Hangchow would increase the numbers, Chou began to back away from that suggestion. He said that we could compromise on a six day visit which included five days in Peking and one day in Shanghai. Knowing of the intense Chinese interest in Hangchow, I said that I would be prepared to raise this issue with you. He then made clear, in typical Chinese fashion, that Mrs. Nixon would be welcome by saying that once she saw the villa in Hangchow she would not want to spend the night in Shanghai.

Picking up a reference I made to the legal aspects of sovereignty. Chou said they would like to buy the proposed ground station and Boeing 747 processing center, and if not they would rent it. I replied that it would be easier to lease it. As I then acknowledged to Chou, this was clearly an example of their “principled” approach on technical as well as substantive questions. They want to do things themselves and maintain their concepts of sovereignty. Within their capability, they would be as forthcoming as possible. Thus, this equipment was admissible so long as it “belonged” to them.

The only comments on technical matters with an edge to them were Chou’s references to security. He made clear that this was the responsibility of the host country and several times noted our requirements with a slight dose of sarcasm. (The Chinese did show some genuine concern about the security problem caused by the large press contingency.)

We settled on the text of the communiqué for my visit and the October 27 release date and we agreed that the announcement of the date for your visit would be in the latter part of November. After first suggesting that the text of the latter could refer only to “late February,” [Page 535] Chou was soon persuaded of the need to be specific about the date.

Chou then was once again very firm on your traveling in a Chinese plane, and I said I would discuss it with you. Chou said that the idea of an occasional U.S. envoy to Peking after your visit could be in the communiqué, and I made a pitch for Bruce once the Indochina war was behind us. He stipulated there would be two meetings between you and Chairman Mao. After some further discussion, which included agreement on what I would say at my backgrounder and my informing them of the upcoming Cannikin test, we adjourned the session.

This exchange left only a few loose ends which we have since tied up. At the final session, I confirmed that there would be another technical advance party, led by General Haig, after the announcement of the date of your visit. Since my return, we have informed the Chinese that Mrs. Nixon will accompany you and that we accept a seven day visit, including an overnight at Hangchow. We have also informed the Chinese that we believe the date for the announcement of your visit should be November 23, 1600 Washington time. On the question of your travel within China, we should take some more time to respond so that the Chinese will realize that this is a major decision for us.7

These discussions on arrangements for your visit confirmed both that our somewhat unconventional approach of presenting our minimal requirements at the outset made sense and that the Chinese do not engage in haggling over technical details once agreement in principle has been reached. Their acceptance of our numbers, their leasing of the ground station and 747, and their insistence on a Chinese plane for your travel within their country illustrate their basic attitude on arrangements.

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Chou might have engaged in some brinkmanship by raising shadows about your trip while we were wading through some of the difficult substantive issues. He did not do this, partly because this is not his style and partly because he needs the visit as much as we do. In any event, while we had some rough and tough private discussions, there was never any doubt cast by either side on the fact that your visit would proceed as planned.


This remains, as we always knew it would, the single most difficult issue. On the one hand Chou says that the PRC, being a large country, can afford to be patient; that it is showing restraint in the language that it is suggesting in the communiqué for your visit; and that Indochina, and even Korea, are more urgent problems, because the PRC can be less generous about its allies’ interests than about its own. On the other hand, the Taiwan question remains one of fundamental principle for Peking, as it has for 22 years; Chou is pressing formulations in a communiqué which we still cannot accept; and he has made it clear that there will be no normal relations until this problem is resolved.

Resolution of this issue in a way that allows our relations to move forward over the next few years depends on China’s willingness to accept our thesis that we can do more than we can say, that to push the process too fast and too explicitly could wreck the whole fabric of our China initiative. While Chou understands our dilemma, he has problems of his own and he must show concrete progress on this issue for his own domestic and international audiences. Accordingly, our discussions and our communiqué drafting were dominated by the tension between the Chinese thrust for clarity and ours for ambiguity.

This was the first substantive issue that we discussed. I opened by reviewing the understandings that we had laid out in July:

  • —We would withdraw those forces on Taiwan related to Indochina in a relatively short period after the war in Indochina is over.
  • —We would reduce other forces on Taiwan progressively over a longer period of time, depending on the state of our relations. In response to Chou’s query, I said that we would not set a final date on these withdrawals but that both sides understood the evolution.
  • —We would not advocate a two-China or one China, one Taiwan solution. At this point Chou said that we should not advocate a one-China, two-government solution as suggested by our UN position. He noted the PRC had been very restrained in its attacks on this position.
  • —We would not support or encourage the creation of an independent Taiwan movement, and we would take action on any information provided to us that Americans officially or unofficially were doing so. Chou interjected his concern over recent demonstrations at UN Headquarters for an independent Taiwan which he claimed were nationwide, even global in scope. I said that as far as I knew the U.S. had nothing to do with this and that I would check into the facts. Chou [Page 537] took the occasion to criticize CIA actions around the world, and I rebutted briefly.
  • —We would not support, indeed we would oppose, to the extent we could, the establishment of Japanese military forces on Taiwan or attempts by Japan to support a Taiwan independence movement.
  • —We would support any peaceful resolution of the Taiwan issue and would pose no obstacle to this.
  • —We were prepared to move toward normalization of relations with the PRC, keeping in mind Chinese views.

I said that you would be ready to reaffirm all of these points to the Chairman and the Prime Minister in a restricted meeting. I added that this was a painful process for us; we had worked with the government on Taiwan for years and whatever the historical causes, it was not easy to make such changes. Opposition to this policy would certainly arise as it began to unfold. We would not challenge the PRC view that this was an internal matter, but the PRC should settle the issue peacefully.

On the UN, I noted that we had carried out the policy I had outlined in July and that we had kept our rhetoric down. In fact it was better for both of our countries if the Albanian Resolution did not pass this year, for then the process would be pushed too fast and there would be a rallying point for opponents of your China policy.

I then reemphasized that we could do more than we could say on Taiwan, and that some things had to be left to historical evolution so long as we both understood the direction in which we were headed.

Chou then asked a series of questions which underlined that their primary concern is not so much our policy but Japanese intentions and the possibility of Taiwan independence, neither of which we can completely control.

After a brief historical lesson on why Taiwan is Chinese territory. Chou revealed what the British were prepared to do in order to elevate their diplomatic mission in Peking to Ambassadorial level: acknowledge that Taiwan was a province of China, withdraw their consulate from Taiwan, and support the Albanian Resolution at the UN. The British would also agree privately that they would not promote the view that the status of Taiwan was undetermined, and if they received inquiries the British government would say that its position was unchanged.

PRC acted expediently, but instead they considered it unacceptable. The PRC objected to the British reserving their position if the issue of Taiwan’s status were raised; Chou noted that Britain signed the Cairo and Potsdam declarations declaring Taiwan belonged to China. He reinforced this by relating some more history, including the U.S. role, to demonstrate why the status of Taiwan was not undetermined and to underline PRC [Page 538] sensitivity to this issue. He then got to his point: what was the U.S. policy? Do we maintain that the status of Taiwan is still undetermined or was it our view that Taiwan had already returned to China and was a province of China? This was the crucial question. How the Chinese people would solve the question of Taiwan was of secondary importance. He added that, as he had already said in July, the PRC would try to bring about a peaceful settlement of this problem. He acknowledged that this was a difficult question for us.

I responded by again saying that we must separate what we could say and what our policy is. We did not challenge the premise that all Chinese maintain there is only one China and that Taiwan is part of that China. In that sense we didn’t maintain that the status of Taiwan was undetermined. Expressing this in a communiqué was a different matter, but we were prepared to note that all Chinese maintain there is but one China. We would also make sure that there would be no further statements by our officials that Taiwan’s status is undetermined. In response to Chou’s question about what we would say if other countries were to raise this question, I said that I would have to check this with you. I assured Chou that we were not encouraging any government to maintain that the status of Taiwan was undetermined and that the UK position had not received our encouragement. Furthermore, if a government were to raise this issue we would certainly not support it; I pointed to our UN position which was careful not to address this question.

I again declared that we would do nothing to promote the elaboration of a two-China or one-China, one Taiwan policy in whatever form such plans were presented and that we would attempt to encourage a solution within the framework of one China by peaceful means. This question was for the Chinese to settle and not something we could actively push.

Chou then raised the issue of our defense treaty, asking whether once Taiwan returned to the Motherland it would still have effect. I replied that if Taiwan and China were to become one again by peaceful means the treaty would automatically lapse. Chou repeated that they considered the treaty illegal and that we should withdraw all our forces from the area. I said that we understood their position, that we hoped for a peaceful solution, that the evolution of events would make unnecessary any formal action on the treaty.

Chou emphatically stated that diplomatic relations between our countries were not possible until our forces had been withdrawn and the defense treaty had lapsed. They could not send an ambassador to Washington if another Chinese ambassador were there; it was possible for you and me to go to China since Peking considered there was but one U.S. and there was no competing U.S. ambassador in Peking. He [Page 539] pointed out that the presence of the Nationalist ping-pong team in the U.S. had prevented the sending of the PRC ping-pong team. (In other contexts the Chinese indicated they still planned to send their team, however.) This problem of there being a GRC ambassador in our country underlies the PRC position about ongoing contacts: i.e. they agree to our sending an envoy to Peking but do not wish to reciprocate; and Chou turned down the suggestion of a return invitation to him as a result of your visit. It may also influence their lukewarm attitude on other subsidiary issues which smack of more normal relations, such as trade and exchanges.

I then pressed further on the need for a peaceful solution of the Taiwan question. We would place no obstacle in the way of a political resolution which saw Taiwan and China get back together again peacefully. Chou commented that if Chiang Kai-shek or his son wished to negotiate, the PRC would not discourage it. I interjected that frankly what we most would like and encourage is a peacefully negotiated solution after which our military relations would automatically be at an end. A peaceful settlement would solve the questions of the defense treaty and our military forces. If there were no peaceful settlement, then it would be easier for us to withdraw our military presence in stages than to abrogate the treaty. The latter was unlikely.

Chou acknowledged these points but raised concerns about the Japanese taking our place. I replied that we would oppose that and that we had a common interest in preventing the military expansion of Japan. To encourage Japanese expansion in Taiwan would be shortsighted, but we had to select the issues on which we were able to enforce our discipline.

Chou cited Secretary Laird’s comments which suggested increasing Japan’s military potential.8 I responded that this was not official U.S. policy, and while we could not prevent such statements, we could make sure that they would not have any practical consequences.

Chou then dwelt further on his fear of Japanese influence in Taiwan, not only military but also political and economic, and he cited contacts between various Japanese elements and officials on Taiwan. I said that it was relatively easy for us to prevent the projection of Japanese military presence on Taiwan while our forces were there; we would continue to oppose these forces after we departed but this was less under our control. If the Japanese began sending military forces out-side of its territory, we would be forced to reconsider our entire policy in the Pacific. Political and economic expansion was more difficult to measure, but it was not American policy to let Taiwan become [Page 540] subsidiary to Japan. Chou warned that this would be most disadvantageous to the relaxation of tensions in the Far East. (Indeed, so concerned was Chou about Japan’s role that in a later meeting he said that he didn’t want all U.S. forces withdrawn from Taiwan for fear that Japanese forces would then move in.)

I made the point that if before diplomatic relations there were visible signs of Sino–American cooperation such as exchange programs, this could affect the situation on Taiwan as well as in Japan. I also warned Chou against exploiting U.S.–Japanese differences, saying that we were coming under attack in some quarters for giving up Japan in our initiative toward China. There had to be some restraint on the Chinese side. He then claimed that they had shown restraint toward Japan and said that they would not deal with Sato.

That afternoon, October 21, Chou picked up the United Nations issue. He dispassionately noted PRC opposition to our position, and I explained that we had chosen this route over one that clearly indicated a two-China policy. Chou emphasized that the status of Taiwan was much more important to them than the UN seat and that they would refuse to go to the UN if our position prevailed. He then revealed that they didn’t particularly like the Albanian Resolution either, since it did not specifically address the question of the status of Taiwan. (At our final meeting, which as it turned out, occurred at the very end of the UN debate, Chou pointedly complained that his talking to me at this time was very embarrassing for China’s friends at the UN.)

When I invited Chou’s views on a successor to U Thant, he offered nothing, saying that they had not thought about the matter. He did take the occasion to praise Hammarskjold and indirectly denigrate U Thant, a sign that the PRC might want an activist Secretary-General.

UN discussion by repeating the need to make progress on the Taiwan question. I again pointed out that if we moved too quickly on this issue our opponents could destroy the fragile relationship that we were trying to build with the PRC. I acknowledged the PRC’s need to show some progress, but repeated that if we went too fast we would tear the whole fabric of our relationship. We thus had to establish a direction in our conversations, insure that every step was implemented, and take no steps that were detrimental to our relationship.

This intensive discussion on Taiwan was later picked up in the communiqué drafting process which I have reported separately. Chou did indeed show some restraint in their language formulations and attempted to meet some of our concerns. We in turn moved toward their position by not challenging the one-China position of all Chinese and by indicating that we would reduce our forces in the Taiwan area. Chou’s formulations, which I could not accept, would have us actively [Page 541] express the wish that a one-China solution be brought about by peaceful means and pledge that we would finally withdraw all our forces from Taiwan and the Taiwan Straits.

Chou explained repeatedly that they were not setting a deadline on our withdrawal and, in fact, surprisingly admitted that they hoped we would keep some forces on Taiwan for a while in order to keep out the Japanese.

The Chinese will be patient but at one point toward the end Chou did suggest that if, e.g., six years passed without solution of the Taiwan issue, the Chinese would be forced to liberate by “other means,” his single reference in our discussions to the use of force.

As reported separately, I told Chou that I would talk this issue over with you and see whether we could come back with a new formulation for the communiqué. He indicated little further budging on their part but said that they might be able to change a word or two of their position if we presented a new formula. It will prove difficult and painful to close the remaining gap between us, but I think we can do it successfully.


Our discussions on the afternoon of October 21 on this subject were generally similar to those we held in July.

I underscored the reasonableness of our approach, pointing out that our negotiating proposals had addressed every concern of their allies. I stressed the advantages to the PRC of an Indochina settlement, on the one hand, and the risks of continued conflict on the other hand. Against this backdrop I made a somewhat more emphatic pitch than July for Chinese help with Hanoi, while still making it clear that we would not embarrass Peking. Chou, in turn, emphasized the desirability of our setting final withdrawals before your visit (without insisting on a political solution). He reiterated that peace had to be made with Hanoi directly, but explicitly hoped that negotiations would succeed. As in July, he was obviously uninformed about the details of our negotiations with the North Vietnamese.

Bruce in Peking while a war was still going on. I interjected that we understood this, but given the trust he had in the White House we hoped that the PRC would find him acceptable after the war.

[Page 542]

the PRC’s support for the seven points and said that final decisions on a settlement rested with Hanoi, not Peking. He then inquired why we had not set a final date and said that this was more urgent than the UN question or the normalization of Sino–US relations.

Telling the Prime Minister that he had been misinformed about the negotiations, I proceeded to give him a fairly detailed rundown of our negotiatiating efforts over the summer, including the outlines of our most recent proposal of October 11.9 I did not give him either a piece of paper or all the details on our proposal, but enough to show its forthcoming nature. I pointed out how we had met all of the concerns of the North Vietnamese and the PRG, even to the point of using some of their formulations. We had addressed ourselves primarily to the North Vietnamese nine point proposal, which, according t. Hanoi, superseded the PRG seven points. I told Chou that it was tempting for us to publish our negotiating proposals since this would dominate public opinion in our country, but that we preferred to try and reach a settlement. I then sought Chinese influence in Hanoi with the following arguments:

  • —We understood that Peking didn’t want to interefere in the negotiating process. But we questioned whether one small country, obsessed with its suffering and conflict, could be permitted to thwart every sign of progress between the U.S. and Peking because its suspicions were so great that it would not make a negotiated settlement.
  • —Why would we want bases in one corner of Asia when the whole trend was toward a new relationship with Asia’s most important country?
  • —If Hanoi showed Peking’s largeness of spirit we could settle the war within days.
  • —We wanted the independence of North Vietnam and the other countries of Southeast Asia. Perhaps there were others (i.e. the Soviet Union) who might wish to use Hanoi to create a bloc against China.
  • —We had made our last offer and we could not go further. We knew the PRC did not trade in principles, but the proposals we had made would end the war on a basis that would not require it to do so.

Chou then asked a series of questions about our withdrawals, the new elections, and the ceasefire. He frankly admitted, as he had in July, that he had not heard a word about these negotiating proposals. He asked whether we had sent a message with Podgorny10 to Hanoi. When I said that we had not, Chou laughed contemptuously about Russian diplomatic efforts, including their extensive travels since the July announcement. He indicated privately that Moscow had made unspecified proposals in Hanoi which Hanoi had rejected.

Chou said that our withdrawal would be a “glorious act” for us, and I responded that we had to find someone with whom to negotiate. We would withdraw in any event: the only question was whether it would be slowly through our unilateral policy or more quickly as a result of negotiations.

Chou made a distinction between Vietnamese and Indochina-wide ceasefires. He expressed concern that an Indochina ceasefire would freeze the political situation in the entire region (his main problem being Sihanouk’s status, of course). I said that we would not interfere with whatever governments evolved as a result of the ceasefire. We then had a testy exchange on Cambodia where I pointed out that there would not be any need to arrange a ceasefire if North Vietnamese troops would withdraw and let the local forces determine their own future. Chou did not deny their presence; he said that they were there in sympathy for their South Vietnamese compatriots. In order to explain Hanoi’s suspiciousness, he recalled the “deception” of 1954 when the North Vietnamese had been tricked and no election had been held. Getting quite excited, he termed this a “dirty act,” launching into Dulles. I replied that the guarantee for our actions in a peace settlement lay not in clauses but in the difference in our world outlook compared to the Dulles policy of the 1950s.

I again pointed out the generosity of our proposals and the temptation to go public with them. Chou said that he could not comment on our offer since he did not know about it in detail. (Later I said that I was not giving him our detailed proposal since that was up to the PRC’s ally to do. Chou agreed. In a later meeting Chou did acknowledge [Page 544] that our political proposal represented a new element.) He maintained that Hanoi’s preoccupation and suspicion were understandable for a small, deceived country. The North Vietnamese could not be expected to have a large view like the Chinese. (Marshal Yeh on another occasion told me that Hanoi was too proud; having, as it thinks, defeated the world’s largest military power, Hanoi was very reluctant to take advice. In this it was egged on by Moscow. Peking, according to Yeh, genuinely wanted peace, but it did not want to make it easier for Moscow to pursue its policy of encircling China by creating a pro-Moscow bloc in Indochina.)

In any event, Chou said, the settlement was up to us and Hanoi. He again emphasized that it was important to have this problem essentially settled before you came to China.

I then summed up:

  • —I had made seven secret trips this year to Paris which was not the activity of a government seeking to prolong the war;
  • —We were no long-term threat to the independence of Vietnam and wanted to make peace;
  • —We recognized the limits to what the PRC could do and the complications of the Soviet role, but nevertheless if the opportunity presented itself, we would appreciate Peking’s telling its friends its estimate of the degree of our sincerity in making a just peace;
  • —We could not go any further than our proposals of October 11.

Chou again commented that they hoped we could settle and get out, whereas the Soviet Union wished to pin us down. He said it would be impossible not to mention Vietnam in the communiqué if the war had not been settled. I rejoined that there should be no misapprehension that Vietnam was an extremely sensitive issue for us and that it was impossible to accept a communiqué that was critical of us. When Chou asked why we had not made a public pledge of final withdrawals, I said this would gain us two to three months of favorable headlines, but we were interested in making a settlement rather than empty propaganda victories.

Chou concluded by again wishing us well in negotiations, calling Indochina the most urgent problem with regard to the relaxation of tension in the Far East, and saying that U.S. withdrawal would be a glorious act. I closed with the hope that he understood what we were trying to do even though we recognized that the PRC had to support its allies. When I said that the Prime Minister should teach his method of operation to his allies, he commented that the styles of various countries differed and that they couldn’t impose their will on their friends.

In a subsequent session where Chou was bearing down on the issue of foreign troops, I pointed to the Chinese forces in Laos. He said that these were ordinary workers plus antiaircraft forces needed to protect them. If peace came, the latter could be withdrawn “in a day’s [Page 545] time.” In any event these personnel were building the road at the request of the “neutralists” and would all leave when the job was done.

In our last meeting Chou made the rather remarkable comment that he believed we “genuinely want a peaceful settlement.”

Hopefully this issue will have been transformed by the time you go to Peking. We cannot expect Peking to lean hard on its friends. We can expect it to help tip the balance for a negotiated settlement if the other objective realities move Hanoi toward a bargain. If so, Peking will have incentives to encourage North Vietnamese compliance. On the other hand, if the conflict continues, Peking (and Moscow) will not want to see a major offensive—and our reaction—shadowing the summit. Thus the situation on the ground, and our declining role should provide a relatively quiet setting. And the communiqué draft has Peking backing its friends in inoffensive language while we emphasize a negotiated settlement.


Chou devoted considerable time and passion to this subject, which he placed as number three on the agenda. In East Asia, the three principal “powder kegs,” in his view, were Taiwan, Indochina and Korea, with the last two the most urgent. (This had some quality of being for the record to prove loyalty to allies.)

He opened his presentation on the afternoon of October 22 by regretting, as he had in July, that the 1954 Geneva Conference had not settled the Korean question. A ceasefire had been reached but no treaty had been concluded and a serious crisis could therefore arise. He said that the Panmunjom meetings had gotton nowhere, that North Korea had no participation in the UN debate, and that North Korea could participate in UNCURK only under unacceptable conditions. He noted with approval the recent opening of talks between the Red Cross Societies of North and South Korea, and I pointed out that we had helped this process along since the July talks.

Chou continued as follows:

  • —U.S. military forces should withdraw from South Korea as Chinese forces had done in 1958. He acknowledged that we had already taken out a third of our troops and said that we had paid a great price to do it, i.e., extensive military assistance.
  • —The 1965 treaty with Japan was even more serious and there was the possibility that Japanese military forces would replace American ones. Officers of Japanese self-defense troops had been going to Korea (I had checked on this since July and Chou was indeed correct).
  • —If there were increased military strength and hostilities after we withdrew this could not but directly affect relaxation of tension in the Far East.
  • —Their Korean friends were “most tense” and this could not but affect the Chinese government and people.

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UNCURK, leave the Korean question to the Koreans themselves, and let North Korea participate in the UN debate unconditionally. Chou reaffirmed the importance of this question and noted that while big China could live with the problem of its divided status for a while, the PRC could not ask its smaller friends, Vietnam and Korea, to be so patient.

I retorted in extremely sharp fashion. I said that the Nixon Administration was dedicated to improving relations and easing tensions in East Asia, but we reject the translation of this goal into a series of unilateral demands upon us. We were prepared to set certain directions, but we could not accept a paper which listed all the things that the U.S. “must” do and called our ally a “puppet.” The PRC had never done this, and we respected it for standing by its friends. But it was important for North Korea, as it was for North Vietnam, to show some of the largeness of spirit of its large ally.

PRC attached great importance to that statement.

I then pressed Chou further to clarify Chinese objectives. I said that if their goals were to bring about stability in the peninsula, avert war, and lessen the danger of the expansion of other powers, then Chinese and American interests were quite parallel. If, on the other hand, their goals were to undermine the existing government in South Korea and make it easier for North Korea to attack or bring pressure upon the South, then a different situation existed.

In response to his inquiries, I made clear that we would not encourage South Korean attacks against the North, and in the case of clear [Page 547] South Korean aggression, our mutual defense treaty would not apply. I also said that we were already reviewing the UNCURK question and that we recognized North Korea as a fact of life. Chou stressed that the PRC was interested in equal legal status for both Koreas. Unification should be left to the future.

In our further exchanges I said that it was our policy:

  • —not to allow Japanese military forces to enter South Korea to the extent that we could control this;
  • —as tensions in the Far East diminished the number of U.S. forces would continue to go down and could be expected to be small;
  • —in any event, we would not allow South Korean military attacks while our forces were there;
  • —as an end of a complicated process, but not as an immediate objective, we could envisage North Korea as a lawful entity in the UN and elsewhere;
  • —there was merit in North Korea’s having fair representation in discussion about the peninsula;
  • —as for final reunification, we had not studied this problem but it should be accomplished peacefully.

At the end of our discussion, Chou in effect accepted our position that the issue of Korea would take time but that opinions could be exchanged in the interim. There was some agreement on general objectives although not about specific methods and we had reached no conclusion about the way peaceful reunification should be effected. In addition, we agreed that the two parties in the peninsula should treat each other as equals and that neither one had the exclusive right to unify the country.

Chou again emphasized that keeping Japanese military forces out was paramount. I said that we would attempt to do this, but that if North Korea should start aggression then one could not be sure of the consequences. I made very clear that whatever we could do in Korea depended on North Korean restraint. Chou agreed that all these issues were mutual and that both of us should use our influence with our friends to keep them from military adventures. He cautioned, however, that the era of negotiations, such as the Red Cross meetings, could be the era of “dragging out” and while they would wait on Taiwan, it was harder for their smaller friends to be patient.

In the communiqué draft we agree to disagree. The Chinese back their allies’ eight points and call for abolition of UNCURK. We honor our commitments to South Korea and endorse reduced tension and increased communication in the peninsula. These formulations are preferable to a formal joint position that suggests we are negotiating on behalf of our allies.


In addition to discussing Japan’s role in Taiwan and in Korea, reported elsewhere, Chou En-lai and I talked about Japan’s future in Asia [Page 548] in our afternoon meeting on October 22. We agreed that neither country wanted Japan to rearm and to resume the outward thrust that it had shown in the 1930s and 1940s. But we disagreed on the best way to assure that this would not happen.

Chou suggested that we drop our mutual defense ties and that Japan pursue a policy of neutralism, and I sharply rejoined that this was the best way to encourage a remilitarized, expansionist Japan and that the security we provided exercised restraint. I think Chou recognized the validity of our arguments, but obviously had difficulty acknowledging the virtues of a U.S.–Japan defense relationship. His ambivalence was reflected in his uncharacteristically lame presentation, during which he seemed unsure of himself, his strategic arguments were weak, and he continued to fall back on pat phrases.

At my invitation, Chou outlined Chinese views of Japan:

  • —Japan’s “feathers have grown on its wings and it is about to take off,” i.e. its tremendous economic expansion was inevitably leading it toward military expansion;
  • —Its economic assistance to other countries was not to help them develop but rather to establish Japanese economic domination;
  • —The Soviet Union was looking for Japanese investment and markets and was encouraging it to be more aggressive;
  • —China was not hostile toward Japan, and great changes have taken place in both countries since the war; the PRC was ready to conduct its relations on the basis of the five principles of peaceful coexistence.

When I questioned Chou on what he meant when he said that the PRC wanted Japan to pursue a policy of “peace and friendship,” he defined this as Japan’s recognizing the PRC’s sovereignty over Taiwan, giving up all ambitions for both Taiwan and Korea, and respecting the independence and territorial integrity of the People’s Republic of China. I responded as follows:

  • —China’s philosophic view had been generally global while Japan’s had been traditionally tribal;
  • —Japan had always thought that it could adjust to outside influences and still maintain its essential character;
  • —Japan was subject to sudden explosive changes, such as going from feudalism to emperor worship and from emperor worship to democracy in very short periods;
  • —These Japanese traits imposed special responsibilities on those who deal with them;
  • —We had no illusions about Japanese impulses and the imperatives of their economic expansion;
  • —The present situation is a great temptation for everybody, especially the PRC and the USSR, since Japan’s orientation has been made uncertain by the July announcement.

I then said that the Soviet Union had made a special effort to exploit the situation and the PRC had too—I cited a People’s Daily [Page 549] September 18 editorial which said that the U.S. could betray Japan at any moment.11 I sharply warned that such competition could only encourage Japanese nationalism. The present relationship with the U.S. exercised restraint on Japan; conversely, leaving Japan on its own would be a shortsighted policy. Someone would be the victim, for neutralism in Japan would not take the form of Belgian neutralism which had been guaranteed by others, but rather that of Swiss and Swedish neutralism which rested on large national armies. Both those Americans who believed that Japan would blindly follow the American lead and those other foreigners who tried to use Japan against the U.S. were shortsighted. It was therefore important that both the PRC and the U.S. show restraint on this issue.

I then repeated some of our principal policies toward Japan:

  • —We opposed a nuclear rearmed Japan no matter what some officials might suggest to the contrary:
  • —We favored keeping Japan’s conventional rearmament to a level adequate only to defense;
  • —We were opposed to the overseas expansion of Japanese military power;
  • —We recognized that Japan’s economic development concerned the whole world and not just Japan.

I repeated that for these major principles to be effective there must be restraint on all sides. When Chou claimed that a nuclear umbrella tended to make Japan aggressive against others, I said that the alternative of Japan’s nuclear rearmament was much more dangerous. There was no question that if we withdrew our umbrella they would very rapidly build nuclear weapons. When Chou asked whether we were capable of limiting Japan’s self-defense strength, I said that I could not promise this, but that we would have a better opportunity to do this with our present relationship than in a situation when Japan felt betrayed by us and Japanese nationalism asserted itself. I said that we had no incentive to encourage Japan to be dominant twenty-five years after World War II when we had fought against this very concept. If Japan did rearm itself, then the traditional relationship between the U.S. and China would reassert itself.

[Page 550]

other but neither would reorient itself that completely. Chou again was skeptical on whether the U.S. could control the “wild horse” of Japan, and I again rejoined that while we couldn’t do this completely, we had a better chance of controlling the military aspects under present arrangements than under the neutralism that he was pushing.

We ended up agreeing to disagree, with my commenting that our two countries had certain parallel interests with regard to Japan.

Chou closed by noting that we had helped Japan greatly to fatten itself, which I acknowledged. I pointed out that we did not need Japan for our own military purposes and that whenever Japan wanted us to withdraw military personnel we would do so. However, this would not be cause for Chinese rejoicing.

The tentative communiqué draft clearly delineates U.S.–PRC differences on Japan, consistent with the general approach of the first part of the document. Thus the PRC opposes Japanese militarism and supports a neutral Japan, while we place “the highest value” on friendly relations with Japan and state we will continue to honor our mutual defense treaty obligations. This can only help us with Tokyo and is much preferable to artificial—and suspicious—agreed U.S.-Chinese positions.

South Asia

This issue surprisingly consumed much less time than I expected, and while China clearly stands behind Pakistan, I detected less passion and more caution from Chou than I had in July.

Chou opened up by mentioning an October 7 letter from Kosygin to Yahya which he termed equivalent to an ultimatum threatening Pakistan. He said the situation was very dangerous and asked for our estimate.

I made the following points:

  • —At first India had a reasonable complaint about the political and economic burden of the refugees coming from East Pakistan. We had moved to meet this problem by providing over one-half of the foreign relief to refugees in India, or nearly $200 million.
  • —However, India was now trying to take advantage of the crisis as a means of settling the whole problem of Pakistan, not just East Pakistan. The Indian strategy apparently is to change abruptly the situation in East Pakistan so as to shake the political fabric of West Pakistan.
  • —I then outlined U.S. policy and the steps we had taken to support Pakistan in the consortium, debt relief, and other bilateral areas. I emphasized our total opposition to military action by India, the warnings that I had given the Indian ambassador about cutting off economic aid if they were to move, and the fact that you would repeat these warnings to Mrs. Gandhi when she visited the U.S. I added that we had urged the Russians to exercise restraint. They had told us they were trying to do so, but we were not sure whether this was in fact the case.
  • —We thought there was a good chance that in the near future that India would either attack or provoke Pakistan into action.
  • —Finally, I outlined our proposal that both forces withdraw their troops from the border and that Yahya make some political offers so as to overcome hostile propaganda and make it easier to support him in the UN and elsewhere.

Chou thanked me for this information and said that he wished to study the Kosygin letter further before discussing the issue the next day in more detail. He commented that Tito12 had been persuaded to the Indian view by Mrs. Gandhi, and this plus Soviet support would increase the risk of Indian miscalculation.

I then stated that we had no national interest in East Pakistan and only wanted the politicial solution there to reflect the will of the people. We had made many proposals to India to separate the refugee problem from the political evolution in a way that would not prejudge the future. However, India had made it very clear that they were trying to force political steps on Yahya in so short a time frame that it could only wreck the structure of West Pakistan.

Perhaps significantly, Chou, despite his promise, never came back to this subject nor mentioned the Kosygin letter again. This might be partly due to the fact that we spent so much time on other substantive subjects and that we now had the communiqué drafting process in front of us. However, there were opportunities to raise South Asia again in our subsequent meetings if Chou had really wanted to.

In any event, China still stands clearly behind Pakistan, as reflected in their formulation in the draft communiqué which reads that “it firmly opposes anyone exploiting the situation in East Pakistan to interfere in Pakistan’s internal affairs, provoke armed conflicts and undermine peace in the Asian subcontinent.” I believe the PRC does not want hostilities to break out, is afraid of giving Moscow a pretext for attack, and would find itself in an awkward position if this were to happen.

[Page 552]

us to gang up on either side. Nevertheless he did not attempt in any way to contrast their stand with ours as demonstrating greater support for our common friend, Pakistan.

Soviet Union

Chou initiated this topic by asking our views, and I replied as follows:

  • —We had kept the PRC scrupulously informed over the summer about our relations with Moscow.
  • —The Moscow summit would now take place because the necessary conditions had been met. There had been various attempts to have the President visit Moscow first, which he had, of course, turned down.
  • —Our July 15 announcement had not changed the direction of Soviet policy but had improved Russian manners. I had pointed out in my opening statement that this announcement had triggered an extraordinary amount of Soviet diplomatic activity and we were aware that it was designed to outmaneuver the PRC.
  • —We have a number of concrete issues with the Soviet Union which we have every intention of pursuing, such as SALT and Berlin. The Russians were now pressing us very hard on a European Security Conference.


I pointed out that the Soviet Union wished to free its hands in Europe so as to concentrate elsewhere, and Chou admitted this possibility. There was a contradiction in the Soviet policy—on the one hand they wanted to ease tensions so that they could concentrate on the East, but on the other hand their policy was apt to loosen things up in Eastern Europe.

I said that we recognized that the Berlin Agreement increased Chinese problems, and Chou responded “that does not matter.” I assured [Page 553] him that we did not make deals for that purpose and that we would keep him informed on the details concerning the negotiations on Berlin. The Soviet Union wanted a European Security Conference to solve their contradictions in Eastern Europe by at the same time dealing on a bloc-to-bloc basis and easing tensions with the West.

I then gave Chou a brief accounting of the Gromyko talks, saying that the European Conference was one of the topics that Gromyko had raised with you, along with the Middle East and subsidiary questions like trade. Concerning the latter I informed him that Secretary Stans would be traveling to Moscow in November. Chou inquired about the Middle East. I told him that if there were any serious chances for settlement I would let him know; prospects were generally gloomy at this point. I added that Gromyko had asked me to tea where we went over the same ground that you and he had covered. In addition, he had discussed U.S. relations with China with the standard Soviet line that Moscow had no objections to our improved relations but would object to our colluding. (On the way to the airport, Marshal Yeh said that he thought the Soviet Union wanted to settle the Middle East so that it could concentrate on China. He therefore hoped we would settle our problems with China quickly.)

I summed up our discussions by echoing some of the themes I had sounded in my opening statement with regard to our policy toward Moscow. I repeated that we would keep Peking informed of anything that might affect its interests; that we would conclude no agreements that would work against Peking (mentioning our deflection of the Soviet proposal for provocative attacks in 1970 as well as the third country aspects of the accidental war agreement); and that anything Peking heard from other sources about what was going on could not be true.

PRC wanted to regain all territories lost by China in the 19th century. What the PRC wanted was (a) an acceptance by the USSR that the treaties had in fact been unequal, and (b) a delineation of the border in minor aspects such as putting the demarcation line into the middle of rivers instead of on the Chinese side as the Soviets claim. Also, he said, the Soviets had pushed troops into all disputed territories—this was unacceptable.)

Throughout our meetings Chou often interlaced disdainful and hostile comments about the USSR, but always in the tone that the PRC was not afraid of any confrontation. He referred to their petty negotiating [Page 554] tactics, their sticking their hands out in various places, and their complicating of efforts for an Indochina settlement (a point reiterated b. Marshal Yeh in one of our sightseeing conversations).

As for our policy, the Chinese should be under no illusions that we fully intend to pursue our interests with Moscow while we try to improve our dialogue with Peking, that we have a number of concrete areas of interest with the Russians, and that while we will not conclude any agreement with the purpose of complicating Chinese problems, we can not be held accountable when the objective consequences of such dealings have this effect.

In the draft communiqué the PRC declares it “will never be a superpower” and opposes “hegemony” and “power politics.” Chou specifically suggested we might want to leave in some of our language (which I was prepared to delete) about improving communication so as to lessen the danger of confrontation because this would refer to our relations with Moscow. Both our countries declare against collusion, foreswear hegemony in Asia, and oppose “efforts by any other country or group of countries to establish such hegemony.”

Arms Control

Chou reflected the same Chinese disinterest in this subject that was so manifest in July.

I led into the topic when I was outlining our approach toward our relations with the Soviet Union, and I reaffirmed that we were prepared to make with the Chinese any agreement on arms control that we had made with the Soviet Union. I repeated that we would not participate in any agreement that would “lasso” the PRC.

I said, as I had in communications over the summer, that we were prepared to sign an agreement on accidental war, for example, with the PRC. Such an agreement would mean no restraints on China’s military preparations but would provide an opportunity for each side to inform the other about unexplained events. I made clear that we were not urging this on the PRC or making a formal proposal, but were merely letting them know that we were prepared to make a similar agreement with them. I mentioned also our willingness to conclude a hot line arrangement.

Chou responded disingenuously that such agreements as accidental war and hot line did not really apply to them, since they had said they would never use nuclear weapons first. He said, more out of politeness than genuine interest, that he would accept the texts of possible agreements to look them over. I subsequently gave him the text of our accidental war agreement with the Soviet Union.

Chou referred to the Soviet proposal for a five power nuclear disarmament conference, and I recalled that we had in effect rejected this [Page 555] proposal also.14 He then inquired about the new Soviet initiative in the United Nations for a world disarmament conference. I noted that although it was not a formal proposal, we would have to reply; I thought all countries, whether in the UN or not, would be included. When I asked about the Chinese attitude, he responded that he thought the Soviet proposal might be an attempt to reply to the Chinese initiative for a world nuclear disarmament conference, but pointed out that the Soviet idea concerned general disarmament, not just nuclear disarmament. I commented that Khrushchev had made a similar proposal every year and we did not consider it very useful. Chou then labelled the Soviet proposal unrealistic and an exercise in firing an “empty cannon” (a phrase he had used to describe Chinese propaganda against the U.S.). Nobody really needed to pay attention to it; it would waste the time and energies of nations. I said that we would try to deflect discussion on this initiative into specific subjects and try to treat problems on a regional basis rather than on a global one.

Chinese coolness towards arms control was further demonstrated in the communiqué drafting process. I put into our drafts our willingness to sign with the PRC any arms control agreement that we had made with other major powers and Chou took this reference out.

I think we have made a useful record in recent months of making clear to the Chinese that we are not trying to conclude arms control agreements at their expense, that we recognize their current lack of interest in the subject, and that we are always ready to conclude with them any agreement that we have made with the Soviet Union. While I do not think they will want to discuss these subjects seriously in the near future, our stand should be both reassuring to them and a clear demonstration of reasonableness and equal treatment.

American Prisoners in China

As in July, I waited until the final meeting to raise this subject and did so as asking the PRC a favor, not making a formal proposal. You will recall that the PRC holds four men: Downey (life) and Fecteau (20 years) downed on a CIA-sponsored flight in 1952; and Smith and Flynn (no charges), pilots in Vietnam who went over the border in 1965 and 1967 respectively.

Since July, I had checked into the actual circumstances concerning Downey and Fecteau whom the Chinese had claimed were CIA agents. They indeed were, and CIA, for its part, would be willing for us to admit their activities if this were required to get the men [Page 556] released.15 In my talks with Chou, I confined myself to saying that I had found that these men had engaged in activities that would be considered illegal by my country. I thus said that our plea had nothing to do with the justice of the case, on which we conceded that the Chinese had a correct legal position. However, if, as an act of clemency, the PRC would consider that they had been sufficiently punished, this would make a very good impression in the U.S.

Chou responded as follows:

  • —As he had said in July, the Chinese legal process permitted a shortening of sentences if the prisoners behaved well, which he further defined as confessing to crimes. In response to my question, he said that they had all confessed.
  • —In about two months time the PRC might consider lessening the sentence of some of the men who had behaved well and they would let us know later what they had in mind.
  • —They had released early this year the old man, Mr. Walsh. I said that we would do our best to see that anyone released would not engage in propaganda against the PRC, and Chou admitted that Walsh had behaved well since his release.

I then inquired about the two pilots; to my knowledge theirs were unintended intrusions into Chinese territory and they were victims of the war. Chou replied that Peking had to deal with these men “in a different light.” If the pilots were released before the Vietnam war were concluded, this “might give a bad impression” (i.e., Peking believes it has enough trouble already with Hanoi).

Chou concluded by suggesting that they could move on the two agents first, pointing out that they had already served long sentences and that Fecteau’s term was almost completed. I said this would mean a great deal to the American people and we would treat any release as an act of clemency.

[Page 557]

Thus in the near future we might expect a release of Fecteau and perhaps the shortening of Downey’s life sentence. If we can reach a settlement on the Indochina war, we could get the two pilots back as well. All of this may be possible without our having to make any public statements about the activities of our men. However, it is absolutely essential to keep this information secret, for any public disclosure of Chinese intentions would almost certainly wreck our chances for early releases.

Subsidiary Issues

I knew in advance that the Chinese would be cool to proposals in the commercial and exchange program fields. In the Warsaw talks they resisted our approach of focusing on these side issues, and they made the same point in a note this summer. Even now that we are talking about Taiwan and other major issues, they want to keep the emphasis there and away from areas which suggest a “normal” relationship.

I sought to meet this resistance head on in my opening statement by acknowledging their attitude and explaining ours. We considered progress in these fields not as a substitute for fundamental agreements but rather to give impetus to them. It would keep off balance those who wished to see the new U.S.–China dialogue fail. Chou and I agreed that such questions could be discussed by our assistants while we held private talks on the major issues.

These side discussions touched upon three questions: continuing U.S.–PRC contacts; exchanges between the two countries in the fields of science and technology, culture, sports, and journalism; and bilateral trade (in brief and low-key fashion).

On continuing contacts, the Chinese reaffirmed their backing of a proposal Chou had made in July—the sending of a high-level U.S. representative to the PRC from time to time. On several separate occasions I emphasized your preference for Ambassador Bruce, whom we hoped would be acceptable to Peking once the Indochina war was over. Chou did not confirm or deny acceptability. The Chinese were not interested in more formal contacts such as “liaison offices” or “interests sections” in friendly Embassies on the grounds that the liaison arrangement they had with Japan was entirely non-governmental and that the presence of a Chiang Kai-shek Embassy in Washington precluded their establishing an interests section here.

Cautious interest in exchanges was displayed by the Chinese. Our side explained the rationale for and outlined a broad spectrum of exchanges in a variety of areas, and the Chinese accepted a representative list of possible programs. They indicated that while there would be exchanges, these would be strictly non-government and limited in number from the Chinese side.

[Page 558]

When we raised the subject of trade and said we were prepared to liberalize our restrictions further, they said bluntly that they had absolutely no interest in the matter. Indeed they were grateful that the USSR and the U.S. had caused them to be self-reliant.

Of possible follow-up interest was a strong statement against hijacking—whatever the motive—by Chou in one of our private meetings.

The Chinese disinterest in these subsidiary issues probably stems partly from a wish to focus more on the fundamental issues in the U.S.–PRC relationship, and partly from a desire to preserve as much ideological purity as feasible by not appearing to rush into a too-active program of contacts and exchanges with the U.S. As for trade, they may not have defined their goals and probably see little immediate potential in any event.

On the other hand, the Chinese appeared to appreciate our rationale for seeking to make some progress on subsidiary issues: that this would help make movement possible on the more fundamental questions and convince detractors of improved relations that gains could, in fact, be made from this course. Thus they included references in the draft communiqué to sending a periodic envoy to Peking and to facilitating exchange in various fields.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 1035, Files for the President—China Material, China, HAK’s October 1971 Visit. Top Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only. Sent for information. Dated “11/71.” This text is 45 pages long; a 32-page version is ibid., RG 59, S/S Files: Lot 73 D 443, Personal Papers of William P. Rogers, China. This version is edited much the same way as Kissinger’s report on his July 1971 visit to the PRC (see footnote 1, Document 144) and also lacks references to progress toward a Sino-American communiqué.
  2. Both are attached but not printed.
  3. Document 165.
  4. The opening statement was included in the briefing materials for the October trip. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 1034, Files for the President—China Material, Polo II, Briefing Book, Issues and Statements, October 1971 HAK visit to PRC)
  5. Not found. During an October 14 conversation, Nixon and Kissinger discussed the February trip. Nixon stated: “Let me say, there’s never been a, no president in my memory has made a state visit longer than 4 days. That’s our standard rule. And I’m just not going over that.” Kissinger replied: “I have no problem with that, the more serious, the more businesslike—” After a brief discussion, Nixon added: “I just meet them at the airport and then I go in and get closeted for 4 days. And she [Mrs. Nixon] goes out to the goddamn schools. You know what I mean? So they get the feel of Americans; you see there’s a missionary feel about China. And they just like the idea that we love the goddamn Chinese, that’s what I really meant about that.” They eventually agreed upon a 5-day visit with one trip outside Beijing. Nixon decided he wanted to visit another city to “get a feel for the goddamn place. That’s one thing about the Communist system, the capital is the least, it’s like Washington, it’s the least representative. It’s so tightly controlled. You get to another city, it’s an entirely different thing.” (Ibid., White House Tapes, Recording of conversation between Nixon and Kissinger, October 14, 1971, 3:05–5:40 p.m., Old Executive Office Building, Conversation No. 289–19) The editors transcribed the portion of the conversation printed here especially for this volume.
  6. Copies and drafts of the materials provided to the Chinese are ibid., White House Special Files, Staff Member and Office Files, Box 30, Dwight L. Chapin, Preliminary China Plan. These materials are described in an October 12 memorandum from Chapin to T. Elbourne, General J. Hughes, General A. Redman, R. Taylor and R. Walker. The materials include information on a typical presidential trip, the “optimum plan” for the China trip, the “absolute minimum” contingent for a trip, and minutes from counterpart meetings held during the October 1971 trip to the PRC. (Ibid.) A copy of the complete book provided to the PRC by Chapin is ibid., NSC Files, Box 1138, Jonathan Howe Trip Files, Notebook: Summary Description of Presidential Trips.
  7. The October 27 announcement of Kissinger’s trip is printed in Department of State Bulletin, November 29, 1971, p. 627. On October 31 Walters met with Huang Chen in Paris and passed along three points: 1) The United States wished to announce the President’s visit on November 23; 2) Mrs. Nixon accepted the PRC’s invitation to accompany her husband on the February visit; and 3) The United States accepted a 7-day visit with 1 night spent in Hangchow. Haig’s instructions to Walters, October 30, and Walters’ memorandum for the record are in National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 849, President’s File—China Trip, China Exchanges. At a November 18 meeting, Huang informed Walters that the PRC proposed making the announcement on November 29 (Washington time). Walters’ memorandum for the record, November 18, is ibid. As instructed by Haig, at a November 20 meeting Walters announced that the United States accepted the November 29 date. Haig’s instructions, November 19, and Walter’s memorandum for the record and attachments, November 20, are ibid. See Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, vol. E–13, Documents 58, 59, 62, 64, and 65. The announcement of Nixon’s trip is in Public Papers: Nixon, 1971, p. 1143.
  8. See footnote 14, Document 140.
  9. At their November 20 meeting in Paris, Walters gave Huang Chen a message for Chou reviewing negotiations between the United States and North Vietnam. The message reads in part: “On October 11, 1971, the United States presented to North Vietnam a new comprehensive proposal designed to bring a rapid end to the war on a basis just for all parties.” The message also noted that the United States had proposed a private meeting between Kissinger and Le Duc Tho for November 1. On October 25 the North Vietnamese indicated that Le and Xuan Thuy would meet Kissinger on November 20, a date U.S. officials accepted. On November 17 the Vietnamese cancelled the meeting, and on November 19 U.S. officials informed Vietnamese officials that Kissinger would not be coming to Paris. The message to Chou added: “As I told you and Vice Chairman Yeh Chien-ying, and as we have made clear to the North Vietnamese, the United States is prepared to treat North Vietnamese concerns with generosity. At the same time, the People’s Republic of China, as a great country, will recognize that we cannot permit ourselves to be humiliated, no matter what the possible consequences for other policies. We know that the People’s Republic, like the United States, does not trade in principles. We have no specific request to make, and we do not expect an answer to this communication.” The message for the PRC and Walters’ memorandum of record, November 20, are in National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 849, President’s File—China Trip, China Exchanges. See Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, vol. E–13, Documents 64 and 65.
  10. Nikolai Viktorovich Podgorny, President of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
  11. The People’s Daily editorial of September 18 (reprinted in FBIS, China, September 20, 1971, pp. A7–A10) was one of several articles in the newspaper on that date, the 40th anniversary of Japan’s occupation of Manchuria.
  12. Josip Broz Tito, President of the Republic of Yugoslavia and Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces.
  13. Reference is to the Quadripartite Agreement on Berlin signed on September 3. Printed in Department of State Bulletin, September 27, 1971, pp. 318–325.
  14. See footnote 4, Document 155.
  15. On September 9 Helms informed Kissinger: “This Agency feels that if it would help secure the release of these officers [John Thomas Downey and Richard George Fecteau], an admission to the Chinese of their affiliation with the Agency and the fact that they were on an intelligence mission at the time of their capture would not now present serious security problems.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Agency Files, Box 208, CIA, Vol. IV, January–December 1971) For background to this issue, see Foreign Relations, 1952–1954, vol. XIV, Documents 406, 415, and 435. These two men were discussed during many of the U.S.–PRC ambassadorial talks held in Geneva and in Warsaw. An overview concerning all U.S. citizens held in China was transmitted in Airgram A–28 from Hong Kong, February 4. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 27–7) Nancy Oullette (standing in for Walters) in Paris was given a message by the PRC representative on December 10 stating that Fecteau and Maryann Harbert (who had been detained aboard a yacht in 1968) would be released on December 13. Downey’s life sentence was reduced to a 5-year term beginning in December 1971. Gerald Ross McLaughlin, who had been detained with Harbert, committed suicide in March 1969. The message from Oullette to Haig, undated, is ibid., Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 849, President’s File—China Trip, China Exchanges. See Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, vol. E–13, Document 72.