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


  • My November 23 Meeting with Ambassador Huang Hua, Permanent PRC Representative to the UN 2

I met secretly with Ambassador Huang Hua, Peking’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, for two hours in New York on Tuesday night, November 23. He was accompanied by their Deputy Permanent Representative, Ch’en PRC Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and an interpreter. On our side were Ambassador Bush, General Haig, and Winston Lord.

The meeting served to establish this new channel for UN matters as agreed to by both governments through our regular channel, to make arrangements for future communication, and to begin discussions on such UN issues as South Asia, a new Secretary-General, and the Middle East.3 The Ambassador, whom I had met in Peking in July and has since been the PRC Ambassador in Ottawa, was affable but cautious. He generally cited his government’s public statements as the approach they would take in New York. It was abundantly clear from Huang’s [Page 596] performance that the PRC was surprised to gain admission to the UN this year, that it was not particularly enthusiastic about its entrance, and that its delegation is feeling its way in an unfamiliar environment.

Following are the highlights of the session, which took place in a small apartment on the East Side, hastily arranged by CIA.

The Private Channel and Public Performance

We confirmed our agreement with the Chinese that Huang Hua and I would secretly exchange views on “relevant major questions of principle within the scope of the work of the United Nations.” We will communicate only on subjects of major importance, such as South Asia, at least until your visit, when various issues may become clearer. When consultations are necessary, we will decide on an ad hoc basis how each issue should be handled between us, and establish understandings which could then be implemented by Ambassador Bush in New York. I pointed out that it was in our mutual interest that we don’t appear to be cooperating visibly, and I made clear that we did not seek a great deal of contact.

After complimenting the Ambassador on how the PRC had turned aside requests from Democratic candidates to visit China, I emphasized the need for restraint in public statements between now and your visit. I said our side would avoid polemics, and pointed to their opening UN speech on November 15 as fodder for domestic opponents of your China policy. Many parties would like to derail your initiative; therefore while both sides would clearly stand by their convictions, we both had to be alert to this problem. I said that Vietnam was a particularly sensitive subject, a pointed reference to statements coming out of Peking during North Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Van Dong’s current visit there.

South Asia

This took up the bulk of our time. I explained our approach both generally and in the United Nations; Ambassador Huang Hua referred to their public statements and reaffirmed PRC support for Pakistan.

I said that we knew what the Indians were up to, and I repeated our intention to cut off assistance if they clearly launched aggression. We were alleviating the suffering and economic dislocation of the refugees, having given more to this effort than the rest of the world put together; we had earmarked $250 million for humanitarian relief in East Pakistan; and we favored a political solution of the problem and had taken many steps in this direction.

Reemphasizing that we would not accept military aggression by India, I outlined what we were currently doing to prevent hostilities, [Page 597] including our approaches to New Delhi, Moscow, and Islamabad, our consideration of UN action, and our approaches to the British and Germans.

Ambassador Huang Hua pointed to Chou’s statements to me, their note in the other channel, their Foreign Minister’s speech during Bhutto’s visit in Peking, and their recent speech in the UN as representing Peking’s basic position.4 This adds up to strong backing of Pakistan, including military assistance, but falls short of a commitment to send troops in the event of hostilities.

I outlined the type of resolution we were considering, and he said that they would have to study it.5 He inquired, and I confirmed, that we would probably not propose a Resolution but would work toward one that might have a restraining impact. He indicated the PRC’s unenthusiastic resignation to the prospect of Security Council action, saying it was out of their hands. I pointed out that it was in our mutual interest not to appear to have positions too close on this issue, thus establishing the fact that we will have to be more evenhanded than they.

I assured him that we would not force the pace on this issue and would give them advance information on anything that we know would occur. My efforts to elicit more precise positions on their part were fruitless, as he clearly was restricting himself to their public statements and to assessing the situation as it evolves.

Ambassador Huang asked for our assessment of the military situation and I gave him the rundown of our latest intelligence estimates.

Successor to U Thant

I said that we would take into account their views on U Thant’s successor, making it clear that I did not expect an answer at this time.

[Page 598]

He asked our views, and I said that we had not made any final judgment but had a slight leaning toward Jacobson at this point. The only candidate we had ruled out was Herrera.

He stated that they were unfamiliar with all the candidates and were still studying the situation. He pointed out that our official rejection of Herrera had put them in an awkward position when they were asked about his candidacy. I said that we would give them advance warning of any new official positions on the various candidates that we might take. He wondered whether there was anything to the suggestions that U Thant might stay on for a brief interim period while a successor was chosen; Ambassador Bush and I knocked down this possibility, saying that a decision was needed by January 1.

The Middle East

He raised this subject, asking in particular how it might be treated in the United Nations. I briefly recounted the negotiating history—the bilaterals with the Soviet Union, the Four Power talks in the UN, and our recent intermediary role. Ambassador Bush and I pointed out that no serious discussion had really been held among the Four Powers. I mentioned in low key that we would not be opposed to their participation in this forum, and he emphasized that the PRC was not interested in joining these talks.

I said that we had hoped that negotiations would move away from discussions of theoretical formulations toward concrete progress, and I pointed out the difficulties which had arisen over an interim settlement which we had thought was important to show movement. Our immediate efforts in the UN debate would be to prevent exacerbation of feeling on both sides, as well as more rigid commitment by the Israelis to existing lines. I explained that making too absolute demands on Israel had the practical tendency of making it easier for it to dig in.

Taiwan Independence Demonstrations

I preempted this subject, knowing their sensitivities and the fact that there had been some recent demonstrations around their hotel. I reaffirmed that there was no US official involvement in these demonstrations. We could and would not interfere in demonstrations so long as they were legal and orderly. I pointed out that you had been the target of larger demonstrations than they. Ambassador Huang did not press the issue, but pointed out that there had been increasing Taiwan independence activities recently in the US and in other places, such as Japan. I repeated what I had told Chou En-lai, namely that we would not encourage or participate in such movements.

The meeting ended with agreement on future contacts and additional pleasantries. I repeated that we would do anything that we could to make their stay in New York more comfortable.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 849, President’s File—China Trip, China Exchanges. Top Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only. A notation on the memorandum indicates that the President saw it.
  2. The 19-page memorandum of conversation is ibid. See Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, vol. E–13, Document 68.
  3. On November 16 Walters met with Chinese officials at the PRC Embassy in Paris where he passed along Kissinger’s suggestion that they open a second channel of communications through the PRC’s UN delegation in New York. Kissinger’s message reads: “The US intends to use Paris as the primary channel for communications on major and longer-range policy issues and sensitive questions unless it receives a contrary view from Peking. There will be, however, a number of policy issues arising in New York requiring early decision on which a more rapid contact may be necessary than would be possible through our arrangement in Paris.” Instructions to Walters, November 15, and memorandum of record and message for the Chinese, November 16, are in National Archives. Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 849, President’s File—China Trip, China Exchanges. At a November 20 meeting in Paris, the PRC accepted the plan for talks in New York, to be held with Huang Hua. Walter’s memorandum of record, November 20, is ibid. Lord contacted Huang at the Roosevelt Hotel on November 21 to arrange for a meeting by Howe on the 22. Lord’s memorandum for the record, November 22, is ibid. Howe provided the PRC representatives with information on a suitable meeting place for the November 23 meeting with Kissinger. Howe’s memorandum for the record, November 22, is ibid. See Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, vol. E–13, Documents 62, 67, 68, 69, and 70.
  4. In their November 20 meeting with Walters in Paris, the PRC representatives handed over a note claiming that India was interfering in Pakistan’s internal affairs, and that the PRC supported President Yahya Khan’s proposal for a mutual withdrawal from the border areas. The note concluded: “Should Pakistan be subjected to aggression by India, China will support the Pakistan Government and people in their just struggle. China already made public its above stand during the visit of the Pakistan Delegation to China. China has also agreed to continue to provide military assistance. It is hoped that the United States will exert its influence to prevent the further deterioration of the situation through persuasion.”
  5. After receiving instructions from Haig, on November 28, Walters met with Huang Chen on November 29 to discuss the situation in South Asia. He detailed U.S. diplomatic efforts regarding India and Pakistan and provided a draft Security Council resolution. Haig’s instructions and Walters’ memorandum of record are in National Archives. Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 849, President’s File—China Trip, China Exchanges. On December 3 Howe delivered a note to the PRC’s UN delegation in New York, updating them on U.S. efforts and suggesting that Kissinger and Huang Hua meet on December 10 to discuss South Asia, a successor to UN Secretary General U Thant, and other issues. Message for the Chinese and Howe’s memorandum for the record, December 4, are ibid. See Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, vol. E–13, Documents 71, 72, and 73.