187. Memorandum From the Defense Attaché in France (Walters) to the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Haig)1

Chinese Ambassador handed me following this afternoon. He seemed slightly embarassed but offered no comment to accompany it. He, Wei and Tsao were very cordial throughout.2

“The Chinese side has studied Dr. Kissinger’s message of January 26, 19723 on the Vietnam question and deem it necessary to reply as follows:

  • “1. During the exchange of views between China and the United States, we made clear on many occasions the Chinese government’s principal stand on the Indochina question and repeatedly pointed out that the question of the three Indochinese countries, and first of all the Vietnam question, should be settled between the United States and the concerned parties of Indochina. China has never asked the United States to make any commitments to her with respect to this question, nor has China ever made any commitments to the United States. It was stated in the message that the United States had presented a new plan for resolving the Indochina war and that ‘this action completed each of the commitments made by Dr. Kissinger to the Prime Minister with respect to the conflict’. What could be your intentions in saying so? We are most surprised.
  • “2. The United States proposals are by no means reasonable steps, but are, as the Vietnamese side has pointed out, a fraud for dragging out the war and continuing its interference in Vietnam’s affairs. It was asserted in the message that ‘these proposals go to the limits of United States generosity’. This is in effect an ultimatum demanding that the Vietnamese people submit.
  • “3. The United States has launched a war of aggression against Vietnam and thus insulted Vietnam, and it is not a question of Vietnam humiliating the United States. Being the victims of the war of aggression, the Vietnamese people have the inalienable right to hit back at the aggression at any time and in any form. The Chinese people will not flinch from even the greatest national sacrifices in giving resolute support to the Vietnamese people. The message alleges that the Vietnamese side is trying to humiliate the United States. This is a sheer [Page 656] confusion of right and wrong. The United States of America should understand that its declaration that it would react strongly can intimidate no one, and that the end result can only be detrimental to the United States itself.
  • “4. It was asserted in the message that it was believed the United States proposals mean that no country need trade in principles in promoting the objectives of ending the war. This assertion was directed at China. We believe we should tell Dr. Kissinger that these words of his mean precisely that he wants us to abandon principles and exert pressure on the Vietnamese side on behalf of the United States. This is absolutely impossible. If the United States truly wishes to end the war in Vietnam it should forthrightly accept the reasonable seven-points proposal of the Vietnamese side. Neither war threats nor petty maneuvers will be of any avail. As was mentioned in the message, frankness has characterized our exchanges thus far, and it is exactly in this spirit that we are applying to you.”

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 849, President’s File—China Trip, China Exchanges. Secret.
  2. Walters’ 1-page memorandum for record of this, the 37th meeting with PRC diplomats in Paris, is ibid. See also Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, vol. E–13, Document 84.
  3. See Document 186.