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

On February 11, 1972 during call on Chinese and after handing them your message regarding easing of trade restrictions I was given following:2

“The Chinese side has studied the U.S. side’s February 1 message on the Indochina question.

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  • “1. The Chinese side has noted the following clarification made in the U.S. message:

    “‘The United States side affirms that there is no reciprocal obligation between the governments of the People’s Republic of China and the United States with respect to this problem.’

  • “2. As for what is called in the U.S. message a unilateral promise, the facts are: In his discussion with Premier Chou En-lai, Dr. Kissinger revealed of his own accord that the U.S. side had submitted an eight-point plan to the Vietnamese side, and at the same time said that it would not be appropriate to show the Chinese side the documents of the secret U.S.–Vietnamese negotiations, including the details of the U.S. eight-point plan. Premier Chou En-lai on his part did not ask for that either. Dr. Kissinger also indicated that the U.S. side was not inclined to publish the eight-point plan, nor was it mentioned that the Chinese side would be informed of the details of this plan as soon as appropriate.
  • “3. Above is simply to clarify the situation and there is no need for a reply from the U.S. side.”3

Comment: They were obviously embarrassed by tone of message. Said it was their New Year and produced lavish cake with rose on top. We toasted New Year in Roseflower wine. They could not have been more cordial. Ambassador Huang Hen leading joviality.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 849, President’s File—China Trip, China Exchanges. Top Secret; Sensitive.
  2. A February 11 telegram from the White House to Walters reads in full: “Dr. Kissinger is requesting that the following information be brought to the attention of the Prime Minister. 1. The White House will announce on Monday, February 14 that the U.S. Government is further easing its trade regulations with respect to the People’s Republic of China. This will have the effect of bringing the People’s Republic of China into a comparable position with that of the Soviet Union. 2. With respect to the Indian subcontinent, the President will take no policy decisions until after he has had a full exchange of views with the Prime Minister. The U.S. continues to approach this region with the attitude of pursuing an approach which parallels that of the People’s Republic of China.” (Ibid.) See Document 185.
  3. A February 11 memorandum from Walters to Haig, which was probably sent as a backchannel message, reads in full: “Chinese today handed me following message ‘The Chinese side has received the US side’s message of February sixth, in which it mentioned that Mr. Le Duc Tho might visit Peking just before President Nixon’s arrival in China and indicated that the US would be prepared to discuss the Indochina question with Mr. Le Duc Tho. In this regard, we wish to reaffirm our consistent position: The negotiations on the Vietnam question are a matter between Vietnam and the United States, in which no other countries have the right to intervene. China supports the just struggle of Vietnam, but will definitely not meddle in the Vietnamese-US negotiations.’” Walters also prepared a memorandum for record of this, the 41st meeting with the Chinese in Paris. Both memoranda are in 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 85.