177. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Ambassador Huang Hua, PRC Permanent Representative to the United Nations and Ambassador to Canada
  • T’ang Wen-sheng, Interpreter
  • Shih Yen-hua, Interpreter
  • Brig. Gen. Alexander M. Haig, Jr., Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • Winston Lord, Senior NSC Staff Member

General Haig: I understand there was some excitement around your hotel.

Amb. Huang: Yes, twice. There were demonstrations for and opposing Bangla Desh, for and opposing Indian aggression.

General Haig: At least it’s kept evenly divided.

Amb. Huang: I would like you to convey the following message. (Amb. Huang reads from a printed text and the interpreter translates):

“The Chinese side has carefully studied the opinions put forward by Dr. Henry Kissinger last time. We agree to the principle he has spoken of, that is, in order to implement the UN resolution of the General Assembly within the framework of a united Pakistan, an immediate ceasefire must first be effected both in East and West Pakistan which will be followed by troop withdrawal by both sides. For this purpose we also agree to the convening of an emergency meeting of the Security Council. However, in so doing, one must not show the slightest sign of weakness toward the Soviet Union and India. The ceasefire and withdrawal will be realized in steps and no recognition must be given to Bangla Desh. For our part we are stepping up support and assistance to Pakistan. And we must adhere to the principle that no recognition be given to Bangla Desh.”2

That is roughly our reply to the talk we had last time.

General Haig: That is very good.

I thought it would be helpful if I tell you what we have done since we last met. On Friday, we sent a very strong warning to the Soviet Union, and we told them that if we had no indication from them that [Page 622] they would act constructively in this situation we would proceed within the framework of the Security Council along the lines that we proposed, that is with a ceasefire and withdrawal. After this warning we had not heard from them, so we proceeded with a very strong public statement. After setting in train moving to the Security Council, we received an urgent message from Moscow. In that message they indicated that they were most anxious to find a solution and a way out of the situation. We have not received the details of their proposal.

So we intend, as you know, to proceed in the United Nations with the General Assembly resolution in the Security Council. We will ask for a ceasefire and withdrawal.

Here are the other steps we have taken. The movement of the forces of the Seventh Fleet is underway and will go through the Straits of Malacca tomorrow and proceed to the Indian Ocean by Wednesday.

We are informed that the King of Jordan has sent six fighter aircraft to Pakistan and intends to send others up to a total of fourteen very soon. The Government of Iran is sending aircraft to Jordan to replace those aircraft Jordan sends to Pakistan. We are informed that Saudi Arabia and the Iranians are sending small arms and ammunition. And there is some indication that the Government of Turkey is sending up to twenty-two aircraft. We, of course, are doing all we can to facilitate this.

I think the most important indication that we have is that the Soviet Union now is very concerned. We intend to watch that situation very carefully. We have no intention of weakening the US position in any way on this situation.

Where we go from the UN Security Council Resolution of cease- fire and withdrawal, and ultimately ceasefire, will be largely the result of the wishes of Pakistan, but without pressure from the United States of any kind.

Now the Soviet response to us was again very conciliatory. They informed us that they sent Deputy Foreign Minister Kuznetsov to New Delhi and that he met with Madame Gandhi, and they are very anxious to arrive at some way out of this situation. We intend to stay very, very firm with the Soviet Union on this issue.

Amb. Huang: That’s all up to now?

General Haig: That’s all up to now, yes.

I think it is very important that the People’s Republic understand that we have taken a full range of steps which have been very cognizant of the interests we have in preserving the integrity of Pakistan, and that your side recognize that these measures have been strenuous, given the realities of the political situation here domestically. And it is in our view quite important that your government recognize we have done every step with full coordination with you. We have told you [Page 623] each step. We don’t think it is helpful to characterize the measures we have taken as weak or vacillating, because that is not an accurate characterization of the steps we have taken and are prepared to take.

Amb. Huang: Do you have other plans with regard to the Security Council?

General Haig: At this moment none other than to insist on a vote in the Security Council along the general outlines of the General Assembly resolution and to hold with that. If this does not succeed, then we will move with ceasefire alone and leave it at that.3

I would welcome anything the Ambassador has to offer in terms of what the People’s Republic will see as coming at that point.

Amb. Huang: We have the same views on this question, that is to preserve the unification of Pakistan and in the Security Council we are in favor of the draft resolution along the lines of the resolution adopted at the General Assembly meeting, that is ceasefire and troop withdrawal. If the Soviet Union vetoes that resolution, then we must adhere to the principles that ceasefire and troop withdrawal constitute an integrated whole, but they can be effected by steps, that is the ceasefire must first be effected immediately in East Pakistan and West Pakistan.

General Haig: Both sides.

Amb. Huang: Then that would be followed by troop withdrawal.

General Haig: I would like to give the Ambassador a copy of the White House text which was issued today.

Amb. Huang: We heard the news, but we didn’t have the full text. (General Haig hands the text over at Tab A.)4

Amb. Huang: We have nothing more to say.

General Haig: Very good.

Amb. Huang: I will take leave then.

[Page 624]

General Haig: I hope the Ambassador will feel free at any time to contact us. It is important that we continue to exchange views as we proceed.

(There was then some continued small talk and light conversation as the Ambassador waited for his car to arrive. General Haig mentioned that Ambassador Bush would like to know if the Chinese wish to conduct bilateral discussions on the question of a successor to Secretary General U Thant. Ambassador Huang replied that they were ready for both bilateral and multilateral consultations. He added that this was their attitude with respect to the other three permanent members of the Security Council also.

Other topics of conversation included the fact that Ambassador Huang and his colleagues had been very busy the last few weeks, the heavy social schedule imposed on Ambassador Huang which he termed a “punishment,” the heavy traffic in New York City, and a brief rundown by General Haig on the latest reports on the military situation in the South Asian subcontinent.)

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 849, President’s File—China Trip, China Exchanges. Top Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only.
  2. On the same day, the PRC message and a brief summary of the meeting was relayed by Colonel Kennedy to Kissinger, then en route to the Azores with President Nixon. (Ibid.)
  3. After receiving unsigned instructions on December 17, Walters met with PRC diplomats in Paris the next day to update them on United States efforts involving India and Pakistan. Walters’ instructions and memorandum of record, December 20, are ibid. See also Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, vol. E–13, Documents 73 and 74.
  4. The attached White House statement reads in full: “On December 7th, the General Assembly by a vote of 104 to 11 with ten abstentions called on India and Pakistan to institute an immediate cease fire and to withdraw troops from each other’s territory. Pakistan has accepted the resolution. India has refused. In view of India’s defiance of world opinion expressed by such an overwhelming majority, the United States is now returning the issue to the Security Council. With East Pakistan virtually occupied by Indian troops a continuation of the war would take on increasingly the character of armed attack on the very existence of a member state of the United Nations. All permanent members of the Security Council have an obligation to end this threat to world peace on the most urgent basis. The United States will cooperate fully in this effort.”