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186. Message From the Government of the United States to the Government of the People’s Republic of China1

President Nixon, in his speech of January 25, reaffirms once again the United States desire to find a negotiated settlement to the Indo-China War and presents a plan whose outlines have already been given to Prime Minister Chou En-lai by Dr. Kissinger.2 With the view towards keeping the record of current United States actions concerning the conflict in Southeast Asia complete, the U.S. Government is enclosing a copy of the new detailed plan designed to bring the war to an end on a basis that is just for all parties. This action completes each of the commitments made by Dr. Kissinger to the Prime Minister with respect to the conflict.

The United States has now taken every reasonable step to meet North Vietnamese concerns and respect the sacrifices and interests of all parties. These proposals go to the limits of United States generosity. They make it clear that there is no reason for the conflict to continue.

The North Vietnamese nevertheless seem intent to keep on trying to embarrass the United States by a major military offensive; the timing of their plans is noteworthy.

The People’s Republic of China should understand that the United States would have no choice but to react strongly to actions by the North Vietnamese which are designed to humiliate us. Such developments would be to no one’s benefit.

The United States believes that all concerned countries have an interest in helping end this war and that its proposals mean that no country need trade in principles in promoting this objective.

This note is sent in the spirit of frankness and mutual understanding which have characterized our exchanges thus far.3

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 849, President’s File—China Trip, China Exchanges. No classification marking. This message, a 3-page “Republic of Vietnam and United States Proposal for a Negotiated Settlement of the Indochina Conflict,” and information about communication, aircraft, and other preparations for the President’s February 1972 trip were sent to Paris on January 24, under a covering letter from Haig to Walters. (Ibid.) The 3-page document was replaced with a later version, which was sent at 2 a.m. on January 25 under a covering memorandum from Haig to Walters. (Ibid.) See also Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, vol. E–13, Documents 80 and 81.
  2. “Address to the Nation Making Public a Plan for Peace in Vietnam,” January 25, 1972, Public Papers: Nixon, 1972, pp. 100–106.
  3. According to an undated memorandum for the record by Walters, he delivered this message and other materials to PRC diplomats in Paris on the evening of January 26. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 849, President’s File—China Trip, China Exchanges.) See also Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, vol. E–13, Document 82.