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


  • Relaxation of Economic Controls Against China

You will remember that you approved three measures liberalizing our trade controls against China.2 You also ordered that they be held in abeyance until passage of the Export Control Act, and that the Under Secretaries Committee prepare in the meantime plans for implementing your decision.

Elliot Richardson has now put forward a memorandum, with which I agree, recommending that you not wait until passage of the Act and authorize implementation of the decision before you depart on July 23 (Tab A3). He makes the following three points:

The decision would demonstrate the flexibility you now have in administering trade controls and thus would emphasize the lack of need for amending the Act. This would be helpful in obtaining its straight extension.
A delay, which might be as much as 60–90 days, might lead us into a period where unforeseen circumstances; e.g., worsening of the Sino-Soviet border situation, could preclude the announcement and thus cause us to lose the diplomatic benefits we are seeking. Such a delay would also increase the likelihood of press leaks and attendant difficulties.
If you wait to announce this decision until you return from Bucharest,4 it probably would be tied in with speculation regarding a putative anti-Soviet purpose in the Bucharest stopover. This would give your decision overly overt anti-Soviet significance.

The Under Secretaries Committee has also prepared implementing instructions,5 and has raised the question of how to handle announcement of the decision. I recommend that the decision be leaked in low-key fashion. If a Congressional presentation is desirable, you have two choices.

Mention the decision at a meeting of the Joint Leadership at which some other business is being taken up.
Have Bryce Harlow mention the decision to a few selected Congressional leaders.

I lean toward the latter.


That you approve announcing your decision in low-key fashion.
If a Congressional presentation is desirable, that it be handled by Bryce Harlow.
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 519, Country Files, Far East, China, Vol. II. Secret; Sensitive. Sent for action. Printed from an unsigned copy.
  2. See Document 14.
  3. Attached at Tab A but not printed is the July 10 memorandum from Richardson on behalf of the Under Secretaries Committee. The three options below are taken almost verbatim from Richardson’s memorandum.
  4. President Nixon visited Romania on August 3, 1969, as part of his around-the-world trip.
  5. The policy was announced to all diplomatic posts in telegram 120569, July21. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, FT 1 CHICOMUS) The regulations were published in the Federal Register on July 23, 1969. (34 Federal Register 12165)
  6. There is no indication of approval or disapproval of the recommendation, but the changes were announced in a “low-key fashion.”