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170. Memorandum From John H. Holdridge of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1

SUBJECT

  • Memorandum of Conversation Between Governor Reagan and President Chiang Kai-shek 2

At Tab A is a State memorandum to you forwarding a memorandum of the conversation October 11 in Taipei between Governor Reagan and President Chiang Kai-shek.3 The principal points of interest are:

  • —Governor Reagan reaffirmed, on behalf of the President, our defense commitment to and continued interest in the ROC, and explained the rationale of the President’s trip to mainland China.
  • —As regards the President’s Peking trip, Chiang said he did not question the President’s good intentions, but thought such a trip could not be justified unless essential to avert a major crisis, which does not now exist. Given the Soviet military presence on Peking’s northern border, it cannot soon pose a serious threat to other Asian countries.
  • Chiang was certain that Peking would aim its major efforts at extracting U.S. concessions on Taiwan.
  • Chiang asserted that the trip would only enhance Peking’s prestige, and would be especially hurtful to his government.4
  • Chiang wanted the President to know that he and his people would never permit a Chinese Communist takeover of Taiwan, and would fight to the last man if necessary to prevent it.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 522, Country Files, Far East, China, Vol. IX. Secret; Exdis. Sent for information. A note on the memorandum indicates Kissinger saw it.
  2. On February 16 John M. Dunn, Military Assistant to the Vice President, informed Haig that Mike Deaver, an assistant to California Governor Ronald Reagan, had called to indicate Reagan’s interest in making a trip to the Philippines, Japan, and other East Asian nations in the fall. “It was Mr. Deaver’s understanding that the President had discussed the possibility with Governor Reagan of extending the trip to add certain other countries.” (Ibid., Box 830, Name Files, Gov. Reagan) In a February 23 memorandum to Kissinger, Haig noted that he had asked Holdridge to develop scenarios for the trip. (Ibid.) Holdridge’s March 11 memorandum discussed Reagan’s possible visits to South Vietnam, Taiwan, and South Korea. Kissinger’s handwritten comment on the memorandum reads: “I suggest Reagan go to Taiwan, October 10 [China’s National Day] and that we handle rest of trip. Advise [illegible].” (Ibid.)
  3. Attached but not printed. Reagan and McConaughy met with Chiang and Acting Foreign Minister Tschen Hiong-fei at the President’s residence in Shih-lin at 10 a.m. The memorandum of conversation was forwarded to the White House by Eliot on October 26. (Ibid., Box 522, Country Files, Far East, China, Vol. IX)
  4. In a meeting with Nixon on November 17, Reagan observed that “the situation in Taiwan was understandably unsettled as a result of the China initiative but that in the final analysis he felt the people of Taiwan understood the reasons for the President’s trip to Peking.” (Memorandum for the President’s File, November 17; ibid., White House Special Files, President’s Office Files, Box 86, Memoranda for the President) According to the President’s Daily Diary, Nixon, Haig, and Reagan met in the Oval Office from 11:06 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. (Ibid., White House Central Files)