196. Memorandum of Conversation1
- The President
- Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
- John H. Holdridge, NSC Staff
- Winston Lord, NSC Staff
- Prime Minister Chou En-lai
- Ch’iao Kuan-hua, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs
- Chang Wen-chin, Director of Western Europe, North American, and Australasian Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
- Wang Hai-jung, Deputy Director of Protocol
- Chao Chi-hua, Minstry of Foreign Affairs
- Chi Chao-chu, Interpreter
- T’ang Wen-sheng, Interpreter
- Two Notetakers
(The meeting opened with an exchange of pleasantries between Prime Minister Chou and President Nixon. The Prime Minister remarked that none of those on the U.S. side smoked. He said that Madame Mao would attend the ballet that evening and noted that it was difficult to combine classical ballet with revolutionary themes. The President noted that the Prime Minister had been an actor in his youth, and that he himself had met Mrs. Nixon while acting in a play in which he did not get the girl. The Prime Minister commented that the play therefore did not match reality.
The Prime Minister confirmed that the room in which the meeting was being held—the Fukien Room—was the same one in which he had entertained Dr. Kissinger in 1971 and had the duck lunch. Dr. Kissinger related he had gained two pounds his first trip to Peking and five pounds his second.)
President Nixon: I want to tell the Prime Minister that last night’s banquet was superb. All our party and the press are talking about it this morning, what a wonderful time they had. I talked to my daughter by telephone this morning, and she saw the banquet on television live, at 6:00 a.m. Boston time. She heard the Prime Minister’s toast, and was very impressed. She was very impressed, too that I could use chop sticks. My tipping glasses with the guests and going around the tables also made a very great impression. All this was on live television, from about 6:00 to 8:00 a.m.
Prime Minister Chou: It is a good thing to draw the attention of the people to this trip of the President. It shows you did not come in vain.
President Nixon: As I said, more people than at any time in the history of the world heard our two speeches live.
Prime Minister Chou: Your earth satellite played a role there, and we hope that other earth satellites will serve purposes like this.
President Nixon: That’s what we would prefer.
Prime Minister Chou: That is not an easy thing.
President Nixon: What is the Prime Minister’s preference as to how we should proceed? Whatever he would like—I would like to conform with his wishes.[Page 695]
Prime Minister Chou: I would also like to hear Mr. President’s views on this matter: whether we should start out with major world questions and then move on to the question of Taiwan and the normalization of relations, or start out with Taiwan and then move toward major world questions. I would like to hear Mr. President’s views.
President Nixon: I think a better way to proceed so the Prime Minister can get a better idea of my views—which he has not yet had except through my agent Dr. Kissinger—is if he would permit me to make a general statement. I would cover Taiwan briefly, then turn to the world scene and discuss it, and then go back to concrete issues such as Taiwan, Korea, Japan, and the subcontinent and other issues as they relate to the world scene. The reason is that I feel it is important that the Prime Minister understand how I relate specific issues to the world scene and why I have reached conclusions regarding certain questions. I want the Prime Minister to have my thoughts and to know why I think certain things are important. Afterwards we can talk about concrete items. He will want to probe my general feelings. If he will permit, that’s the way I would like to proceed.
Prime Minister Chou: Yes, I approve. Please.
President Nixon: I would like to begin by commenting upon the statement Chairman Mao made at the start of our meeting yesterday. He very properly raised the question of whether our talks would be in confidence or whether we were going to talk for publication. I assured him and have also assured the Prime Minister in our conversation in the car that they would be confidential.
Let me be more specific. When Dr. Kissinger returned from his trip in July and in October, the total number of pages in the transcript was over 500.
Prime Minister Chou: That must have been quite a tiring thing to read that.
President Nixon: It was very interesting. I think the Prime Minister will find this hard to believe, but except for General Haig and these gentlemen here, and Dr. Kissinger of course, I am the only one who has seen these 500 pages. I have read the whole 500. We provided a sanitized memorandum of conversation for others—I am talking here in great confidence—who are on the trip with us, like Secretary Rogers and Assistant Secretary Marshall Green. This is because they need to have some of this information in order to do their work.
This does not indicate any lack of confidence in either Secretary Rogers or Mr. Green, but our State Department leaks like a sieve. (Prime Minister Chou laughs) Also within our bureaucracy there is great opposition to some of the positions I have taken, for example, our positions with respect to India and Pakistan.[Page 696]
Prime Minister Chou: (laughs) The record of three of your meetings were made public because all sorts of people were there.
President Nixon: Now, I want to tell the Prime Minister that as far as the conversations I have with him and with Chairman Mao and any other conversations with the Chairman, this rule will apply. The only people who will get the transcript will be the people at this table and General Haig. General Haig must have it because he is Dr. Kissinger’s deputy. We will prepare for Secretary Rogers a memorandum only for those matters that can be generally discussed and regarding which the State Department must act. But the transcript of the conversations in this room will go no further than the people at this table and General Haig, who is totally reliable.
The Prime Minister may think we’re being too careful, but as you know, we had the Pentagon papers from the previous Administration, and we’ve had the Anderson papers from this Administration, and Dr. Kissinger and I have determined that this will never happen in the new relationship that we have established with his (the Prime Minister’s) government. Let me say to the Prime Minister in a lighter vein that the problem we have in keeping things in confidence in our country are greater than the ones which he has.
Prime Minister Chou: That I believe.
President Nixon: For example, I do not believe in making a public spectacle of a state gift. I wanted the musk oxen, which I think are a great idea, to be a surprise to the Prime Minister but the zoo keeper called in the press and said I was giving them the minute he heard of this idea. He wanted to get the credit. (Chinese laughter) That of course seems like a small matter, but I’m determined where the fate of our two countries, and possibly the fate of the world is involved, that we can talk in confidence.
Prime Minister Chou: Yes indeed, and since Dr. Kissinger made his first visit to Peking, we have abided by the principle of strict confidence. So we understand that is really quite difficult for you to do that.
President Nixon: In the eight years in which I was Vice President, in the three years I have been President, and in the six years I was a member of Congress, I have never seen a government more meticulous in keeping confidences and more meticulous in keeping agreements than his (the Prime Minister’s) government. It’s difficult, but we want to reciprocate in kind and that’s why we want to keep such iron control. I wish—as I know he will—I hope the Prime Minister would convey that to the Chairman, what I have told to him, because it is very important he (the Chairman) knows this. When I give my word—I don’t give it very often—I want him to know I will keep it.[Page 697]
Now, if I could turn and, as we have discussed, begin with the subject of Taiwan briefly at this point on things regarding which there is no disagreement. I thought we would return to it later, or I’m sure we will want to discuss the issue in more detail.
Dr. Kissinger when he was here stated our agreement to five principles. I completely endorse these principles, and the Prime Minister can count on that no matter what we say on other subjects.
Principle one. There is one China, and Taiwan is a part of China. There will be no more statements made—if I can control our bureaucracy— to the effect that the status of Taiwan is undetermined.
Second, we have not and will not support any Taiwan independence movement.
Third, we will, to the extent we are able, use our influence to discourage Japan from moving into Taiwan as our presence becomes less, and also discourage Japan from supporting a Taiwan independence movement. I will only say here I cannot say what Japan will do, but so long as the U.S. has influence with Japan—we have in this respect the same interests as the Prime Minister’s government—we do not want Japan moving in on Taiwan and will discourage Japan from doing so.
The fourth point is that we will support any peaceful resolution of the Taiwan issue that can be worked out. And related to that point, we will not support any military attempts by the Government on Taiwan to resort to a military return to the Mainland.
Finally, we seek the normalization of relations with the People’s Republic. We know that the issue of Taiwan is a barrier to complete normalization, but within the framework I have previously described we seek normalization and we will work toward that goal and will try to achieve it.
(Prime Minister Chou pauses and offers tea. When he asks Mr. Holdridge if he would like more, the latter replies that he hasn’t had time to start drinking it. President Nixon said he was being kept busy.)
President Nixon: Now, I would add to that, as Dr. Kissinger had pointed out, two-thirds of our present forces on Taiwan are related to the support of our forces in Southeast Asia. These forces, regardless of what we may do here, will be removed as the situation in Southeast Asia is resolved. I have made that decision. And the reduction of the remaining third of our military presence on Taiwan will go forward as progress is made on the peaceful resolution of the problem.
The problem here, Mr. Prime Minister, is not in what we are going to do, the problem is what we are going to say about it. As I said yesterday, my record shows I always do more than I can say, once I have made the decision as to the direction of our policy.[Page 698]
Now with regard to the technical matter of what we can say, I know that Dr. Kissinger and the Prime Minister had long discussions, and I know that Dr. Kissinger and the Deputy Foreign Minister had a discussion on it this morning. I don’t believe it would be useful here to go into the wording here at this point.
I know the Prime Minister also has a problem. This is an issue which basically is an irritant and has a high emotional content and therefore he needs to show progress on the issue. That’s his side, and I recognize this. I am taking that into consideration as to what we can say in the joint communiqué.
Let me in complete candor tell the Prime Minister what my problem is, from a political standpoint. What we say here may make it impossible for me to deliver on what I can do. Our people, from both the right and the left, for different reasons, are watching this particular issue. The left wants this trip to fail, not because of Taiwan but because of the Soviet Union. And the right, for deeply principled ideological reasons, believes that no concessions at all should be made regarding Taiwan. Then there is another group, the people in our country who are obsessed with pro-Indian sentiment, who don’t like the idea of a U.S.–China détente. All of these forces have lines into the various political candidates. And so, what we might find is that they might seize on the language we finally agree upon to attack the whole trip, and you would have the very unholy alliance of the far right, the pro-Soviet left, and pro-Indian left.
Mr. Kissinger: You forgot the pro-Japanese, like our friend, Professor Reischauer.2
President Nixon: I could add there is another strong group, those who are pro-Japan, like Reischauer; not because of Taiwan but because of Japan. He, too, was Dr. Kissinger’s student. (Chou laughs) They hope our movement toward relations with the People’s Republic of China will fail.
Now, the Prime Minister as a sophisticated observer of the American political scene, could very well interpret what I have said as being a self-serving statement, and solely devoted to assuring my political survival. I would simply respond by saying that there is something much more important than whether I am around after November this year or January next year, and that is the whole American–Chinese initiative. That is what is involved.
So what we need to do, and what we are trying to find is language which will meet the Prime Minister’s need, but language which will not give this strong coalition of opponents to the initiative we have [Page 699] made, that we have talked about, the opportunity to gang up and say in effect that the American President went to Peking and sold Taiwan down the river.
The difficulty is that as you get into the political campaign, and as critics join in, not because they are for Taiwan but because they oppose the American–Chinese initiative, as they join together, the debate will force both candidates to assure the American public on this issue. This we must not let happen if we can avoid it.
Now I would like to come back to Taiwan with the Prime Minister’s permission, after I have had the opportunity to discuss world views. I know this will take some time. Since Dr. Kissinger and the Deputy Foreign Minister had an interesting conversation today, I want the Prime Minister to know why we seem to be, shall we say, difficult on this issue. It is not because of a fatuous argument but because we see here a danger to the whole initiative. Our problem is to be clever enough to find language which will meet your need yet does not stir up the animals so much that they gang up on Taiwan and thereby torpedo our initiative. That is our goal.
I will simply sum up by saying I do not want to be forced when I return to the United States, in a press conference or by Congressional leaders, to make a strong basically pro-Taiwan statement because of what has been said here. This is because it will make it very difficult to deliver on the policy which I have already determined I shall follow.
If I could turn now, with the Prime Minister’s permission, to the world scene, this will enable me to put into context my feelings with respect to Japan, Korea, Vietnam and India. I apologize for talking so long.
Prime Minister Chou: No.
President Nixon:… but if Mr. Kissinger had 500 pages I must have equal time.3
Prime Minister Chou: Surely. This visit is mainly for the purpose of talks.
President Nixon: Right. I am anxious to hear the Prime Minister talk, but I know he hasn’t had a chance to hear me talk, except through Dr. Kissinger, whose views I support, of course.
The Prime Minister and Chairman Mao are both correct in what they have said in previous years about what my attitude has been on the whole issue of East-West relations. Before 1959, it did seem to us in the U.S. that the socialist world was monolithic, and that the Czar was in Moscow (Prime Minister Chou laughs). Now, during the period of 1960–1968 when I was out of office, I had the opportunity to travel [Page 700] a great deal in the world and to reach what seemed to me some very sound principles about how the world had changed—conclusions which I summarized in my Kansas City extemporaneous speech.4
Incidentally, that speech was better thought out than the grammar would indicate. I was once talking to Winston Churchill’s son Randolph, who was Churchill’s biographer and who recently died. I had heard Winston Churchill make a brilliant speech without notes and I asked Randolph Churchill with some amazement how in the world Winston Churchill could make such a magnificent speech just off the top of his head. Randolph Churchill answered, and said “Mr. Vice President”— I was Vice President then—“my father spends the best hours of his life writing out his extemporaneous speeches.”
Now, with regard to the situation we now face, what is it that brings China and the U.S. together? For example, we have differences on Taiwan, not in my opinion so significant over the long run but difficult in the short run. We have differences over Southeast Asia. We have different attitudes toward Japan. We have different attitudes toward Korea. Now we say, and most of our rather naive American press buys this line, that the new relationship between China and America is due to the fact we have a basic friendship between our peoples. But speaking here, the Prime Minister knows and I know that friendship— which I feel we do have on a personal basis—cannot be the basis on which an established relationship must rest, not friendship alone. I recall that a professor of law when I was a first-year student said that a contract was only as good as the will of the parties concerned to keep it. As friends, we could agree to some fine language, but unless our national interests would be served by carrying out agreements set forward in that language, it would mean very little.
Now, I come to a point where I find I am in disagreement with the Prime Minister’s analysis of what America’s role in the world should be. Let me say that in terms of pure ideology, if I were in the Prime Minister’s position, as one who deeply believed in the socialist revolution, I would take the same position he took with regard to the United States in his talks with Dr. Kissinger. And publicly I think that the Prime Minister and Chairman Mao have to take that position, that is the U.S. is a great capitalist imperialist power reaching out its hands and it should go home from Asia, home from Europe, and let the democratic forces and liberation forces develop in their own way.
There are some of my advisers who tell me I could win the next election in a landslide if I advocated such a policy, because the American people did not seek this position of a world power and they would [Page 701] like to be relieved of maintaining forces in Europe and the burden of maintaining guarantees to various other nations in the world. And some would say why not cut the American defense budget from $80 billion to $40 billion and then we could use the money for domestic purposes to help the poor, rebuild the cities, and all that sort of thing.
I have resisted that—it is what we call the new isolationism for the U.S.—and have barely been able to get a majority on some key votes. I am in an ironic position because I am not a militarist. I don’t want the U.S. to be engaged in conquest around the world, but because as I analyze the situation around the world I see we would be in great danger if we didn’t maintain certain levels of defense, I have had to come down hard for those levels of defense.
Now let me come to the point. I believe the interests of China as well as the interests of the U.S. urgently require that the U.S. maintains its military establishment at approximately its present levels and that the U.S., with certain exceptions which we can discuss later, should maintain a military presence in Europe, in Japan, and of course our naval forces in the Pacific. I believe the interests of China are just as great as those of the U.S. on that point.
Let me make now what I trust will not be taken as an invidious comparison. By religion I am a Quaker, although not a very good one, and I believe in peace. All of my instincts are against a big military establishment and also against military adventures. As I indicated a moment ago, the Prime Minister is one of the world’s leading spokesman for his philosophy and has to be opposed to powers such as the U.S. maintaining huge military establishments. But each of us had to put the survival of his nation first, and if the U.S. were to reduce its military strength, and if the U.S. were to withdraw from the areas I have described in the world, the dangers to the U.S. would be great—and the dangers to China would be greater.
I do not impugn any motives of the present leaders of the Soviet Union. I have to respect what they say, but I must make policy on the basis of what they do. And in terms of the nuclear power balance, the Soviet Union has been moving ahead at a very alarming rate over the past four years. I have determined that the U.S. must not fall behind, or our shield of protection for Europe, or for some of the nations of the Pacific with which we have treaties, would be worthless.
Then, as I look at the situation with respect to China, as we mentioned yesterday, the Soviet Union has more forces on the Sino–Soviet borders than it has arrayed against the Western Alliance. Now, I think that, as the Prime Minister knows, I have asked Dr. Kissinger to provide a briefing to whomever the Prime Minister designates on very sensitive material, what we know to be totally reliable on both the position of the Soviet forces versus China and also the general nuclear [Page 702] balance. I suggest that if the Prime Minister could designate, in addition to people on the civilian side, someone such as the Vice Chairman for Military Affairs, (note: Yeh Chien-ying, Vice Chairman of the Military Affairs Mission of the CCP) I believe it would be extremely interesting for him. The meeting place should be highly secret, however, if this could be arranged.
Dr. Kissinger: We have.
President Nixon: O.K.
Now as I see China, and as I look at China’s neighbors, this is what would concern me. I believe Chairman Mao and the Prime Minister when they say that China does not seek to reach out its hands, and that while it will support forces of liberation, it does not seek territory around the world. However, turning to what others may do, and looking to the south, as far as India is concerned, China could probably handle India in a month in the event they went to war. India is no threat to China, but India supported by the Soviet Union is a very present threat to China because China’s ability to move, to deal with respect to India and to take military action would be seriously in question if the Soviet Union, its northern neighbor, was supporting India.
That was why in the recent crisis that was one of the reasons we felt it was very important to call the hand of India in moving against West Pakistan—and we had conclusive evidence that the Prime Minister of India was embarked on such a course—why we had to call their hand and prevent that from happening. In other words, when we took a hard line against India and for Pakistan, we were speaking not just to India or Pakistan but also—and we made them well aware of it—to the Soviet Union.
That brings us back again to my major premise: if the U.S. were in a position of weakness vis-à-vis the Soviet Union, whatever policy the U.S. followed would have much less credence with the Soviet Union. For the U.S. to be able to inhibit the Soviets in areas like the subcontinent, the U.S. must at least be in a position of equality with the Soviet Union.
We took a lot of heat on this policy because, again, we had an unholy alliance against us (Chou laughs)—the pro-Soviet group, and the pro-India group which has an enormous propaganda organization in the U.S., and also what you could call the anti-Pakistan group because they didn’t like the form of government in Pakistan. They charged we were sacrificing India, the second biggest country in the world, because of our desire to go forward with the China initiative. That’s to a certain extent true, because I believe Mr. Prime Minister, it is very important that our policies—and this is one area I think we can agree—that our policies in the subcontinent go together. I do not mean in collusion, but I mean we don’t want to make movement with respect to India and [Page 703] Pakistan unless you are fully informed, because we believe your interest here is greater than ours. We face a problem here because the question of resuming aid to India, economic aid, will soon arise when I return. A case can be made against this on the grounds that they will be able to release funds from buying arms from the Soviet Union which can then be manufactured in India.
But a very critical question which we have to ask ourselves, the Prime Minister and I, is would it be better for the U.S. to have some relation with India, some influence in India or should we leave the field for the Soviet Union?
Let me use one other example to bear out my argument that a U.S. presence in Asia is in the interest of not just the U.S. but in the interest of China. I think that the Prime Minister in terms of his philosophy has taken exactly the correct position with respect to Japan, for example the U.S. should withdraw its troops, the Treaty between Japan and the U.S. should be abrogated, and Japan should be left to become a neutral country that is unarmed. I think that the Prime Minister has to continue to say that. But I want him to understand why I think strongly that our policy with respect to Japan is in the security interest of his country even though it is opposed to the philosophic doctrine which he espouses.
The U.S. can get out of Japanese waters, but others will fish there. And both China and the U.S. have had very difficult experiences with Japanese militarism. We hope that the situation is changed permanently away from the militarism that has characterized Japanese government in the past. On the other hand, we cannot guarantee it and consequently we feel that if the U.S. were to leave Japan naked, one of two things would happen, both of them bad for China. The Japanese, with their enormously productive economy, their great natural drive and their memories of the war they lost, could well turn toward building their own defenses in the event that the U.S. guarantee were removed. That’s why I say that where Taiwan is concerned, and I would add where Korea is concerned, the U.S. policy is opposed to Japan moving in as the U.S. moves out, but we cannot guarantee that. And if we had no defense arrangement with Japan, we would have no influence where that is concerned.
On the other hand, Japan has the option of moving toward China and it also has the option of moving toward the Soviet Union.
So the point I would summarize on is this. I can say, and I think the Prime Minister will believe me, that the U.S. has no designs on China, that the U.S. will use its influence with Japan and those other countries where we have a defense relationship or provide economic assistance, to discourage policies which would be detrimental to China. But if the U.S. is gone from Asia, gone from Japan, our protests, no [Page 704] matter how loud, would be like—to use the Prime Minister’s phrase— firing an empty cannon; we would have no rallying effect because fifteen thousand miles away is just too far to be heard.
Now I realize that I have painted here a picture which makes me sound like an old cold warrior (Prime Minister Chou laughs). But it is the world as I see it, and when we analyze it, it is what brings us, China and America, together; not in terms of philosophy, not in terms of friendship—although I believe that is important—but because of national security I believe our interests are in common in the respects I have mentioned.
I will just close by saying that after this analysis I would not want to leave the impression that the U.S. is not going to try to go to the source of the trouble, the Soviet Union, and try to make any agreements that will reduce the common danger. Our policy will be completely open and frank with China. Since Dr. Kissinger’s visit, we have informed his (Prime Minister Chou’s) government completely with respect to the contacts we have had with the Soviets. When we have had my meeting in Moscow, if the Prime Minister agrees, I would like to have Dr. Kissinger come and report personally to the Prime Minister on what we have discussed and what agreements we reached in Moscow. We are going to try, for example, to get an arms limitation agreement and also make progress on the Middle East if that subject is still before us.
But the most important fact to bear in mind is that as far as China and the U.S. are concerned, if the U.S. were to follow a course of weakening its defense, of withdrawing totally or almost exclusively into the U.S., the world would be much more dangerous in my view. The U.S. has no aggressive intent against any other country; we have made our mistakes in the past. And I do not charge that the Soviet Union has any aggressive interests against any other country in the world, but in terms of the safety of these nations which are not superpowers in the world, they will be much safer if there are two superpowers, rather than just one.
I have taken too much of the Prime Minister’s time, but I wanted him to get the feel of my general philosophy on these points.
Prime Minister Chou: (in English): Thank you.
(Prime Minister Chou then suggested a ten minute recess and the President agreed this was a good idea. During the recess, from 3:50 to 4:00 p.m. there was light talk, including the difficulty of translating Chairman Mao’s poems.)
Prime Minister Chou: I would like to thank Mr. President for your rather comprehensive introduction to your views and your line of action.[Page 705]
Of course, some of that was already said by Mr. Kissinger before. But to hear it directly from Mr. President has enabled us to have a clearer understanding of your views and to know them more clearly.
Of course, the world outlooks of our two sides are different, basically different, which we do not cover up. But that should not hinder state relations between our two countries from moving toward normalacy, because owing to the interests of a state during a certain period of time one is able to find common ground.
As for the fact that peoples of various countries want progress, and to move forward, neither the Chinese Government nor the American Government can do anything about that. It is not a matter for us; it is a matter for posterity. As Mr. President has said, you wanted to strive for a generation of peace, but can only talk about the present generation.
President Nixon: But it would be longer than (the era of) Metternich.
Prime Minister Chou: But I didn’t agree with the view of Dr. Kissinger in his book, and we had a discussion on it.
President Nixon: It was very interesting.
Prime Minister Chou: The times are different.
Dr. Kissinger: I told the Prime Minister I had enough difficulty discussing American foreign policy without concerning myself with Austrian foreign policy.
President Nixon: It was a brilliant debate.
Prime Minister Chou: So this question arises, that is, in view of the current interests of our two countries, there is the possibility we may find common ground. But this common ground must be truly reliable. It should not be a structure built upon sand, because that structure will not be able to stand.
And so Mr. President just now has made a description of the world scene, and the situation of the world, as we have said on previous occasions, is a situation of upheaval in the twenty-six years or so since the Second World War and this situation is increasing, not decreasing. Of course, as we have said, a worldwide war did not break out during this interval, but local wars have never stopped. And so the question arises as the President put it, there can be no vacuum in the world. But here again arises a question of philosophy.
For example, with respect to China after the Second World War; according to the Yalta Agreements, the U.S. was the principal country having a sphere of influence in China, whereas the Soviet Union only had a partial sphere of influence, in some parts of China.
(There was a brief interruption as snacks were served and Prime Minister Chou reported that Wang Hai-jung had told him that TV pictures of the Nixon–Mao meeting had already been transcribed. There [Page 706] was some blurring because the Chinese cameramen found the equipment too heavy and shook and thus the pictures were not very clear. Also since the meeting was on the spur of the moment, they were not at all prepared and thus were very tense.)
Prime Minister Chou: Shall we continue?
So the situation at that time, immediately after the Second World War, was clearly stipulated by those agreements. What is more Chiang Kai-shek had a treaty with the Soviet Union at that time, which also was called the Sino–Soviet Treaty of Friendship and Alliance. It was to last for twenty years. In addition, according to the agreements reached at Yalta, Chiang Kai-shek recognized the independence of Outer Mongolia, which is now called as the People’s Republic of Outer Mongolia. Now, however Chiang Kai-shek says he regrets very much the establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and the People’s Republic of Mongolia. I would like to write a letter to Chiang Kai-shek to ask him who signed the agreements providing independence for Outer Mongolia.
At that time, Lady Cripps of Britain4 went to Yenan and met Chairman Mao. Chairman Mao asked her why you powers were interested in drawing up spheres of influence. She said she could do nothing about it, but Britain was on the downgrade. And so as I saw it at that time, the situation was fixed as it then was.
Then, as the President probably recalls, the U.S. sent Ambassador Hurley5 to China to mediate between the KMT and the Chinese Communist Party, who advocated the establishment of a coalition government. And later President Truman sent General Marshall as an envoy to mediate.6 At that time, Ambassador Hurley was quite enthusiastic. Besides he had the courage to draw up a provisional coalition government and sign those articles with me in Yenan. (Prime Minister Chou laughs.)
After that, Chairman Mao immediately sent me off to Chungking, because I was already the representative of the Chinese Communist [Page 707] Party in Chungking, to continue negotiations. But Chiang Kai-shek didn’t agree. President Truman’s reasons for having Ambassador Hurley act as he did was because Stalin had told him that you should advise the Chinese Communist Party to join in a coalition with the KMT. As for us, the Chinese Communist Party, the Soviet Union gave us no help at all. We had no contact with them at that time. We didn’t even know about the Yalta Agreement. We learned of the terms of the Yalta Agreement quite late. In fact, we learned them from the KMT side. Since Chiang Kai-shek opposed establishment, the coalition government couldn’t be established. Then General Marshall came, and the history of that is mostly published in Acheson’s White Paper. At that time, Mr. Chang Wen-chin was my interpreter, my assistant. We engaged in negotiations with them (the KMT) for one year and signed all sorts of things, but to no effect. What happened then was that Civil War broke out and still continues. The U.S. sided with Chiang Kai-shek because of your state relations with him, which we understand.
But what were the results? The results were, as Mr. President said in one of his campaign statements, the Truman Administration lost a country of 600 million. Well, having lost China a new relationship could have been established. The fact, however, was that at the beginning the Truman Government admitted that they had no territorial ambitions against China, including Taiwan. But because of his suspicions and his belief that it might be possible for Chiang Kai-shek to make a comeback, he did put that into effect (establish a new relationship), and the result was that he sent the Seventh Fleet into the Taiwan Straits.
From that the policy of the Truman Administration developed to the point of Dulles’ signing a treaty with Taiwan at the end of 1954 which was ratified at the beginning of 1955.7
There is still a question now which the State Department often have replied to (Prime Minister Chou laughs) that is to say, the Committee for a Free China organized by Walter Judd, the organizer of the Committee of One Million. Walter Judd’s Chinese name is Chou Yi-de, so my surname and Judd’s are the same.
The development of history shows that there was no vacuum in China. The U.S. forces left China, the Soviet forces, too, left China, and the Chinese people themselves filled up the vacuum. Therefore, if we really believe in the people, and believe people can liberate themselves, then there can be no real vacuum appearing. The biggest change after the Second World War was the liberation of China.
In your campaign speech, Mr. President, although you did complain about the dangers of the Truman policy, you also recognized the [Page 708] realities of China, the success of the Chinese people. It was because of that we are meeting today. The situation in China today is like what it was almost two-hundred years ago—you talk of the Spirit of ’76—when the British Colonial forces were driven out of America, and the American people themselves filled up the vacuum. That is one way of looking at things.
I would like to ask Mr. President a question, because Mr. President pointed out possible dangers. We too have taken note of these dangers. But what is the best way out? Should we do it by expanding armaments mutually? There is an old Chinese saying that as the tide rises the boat also rises. You have made public your military expenditures. The Soviet Union does not make public its military expenditures. There is no question that the percentage of their budget for military expenditures is no less than yours. Otherwise how is it that the life of the Soviet people is so bad, and the agriculture situation is so bad. They can’t say it was only bad weather. (President Nixon laughs.) Agricultural production in Canada is not bad at all although the weather there is the same as the Soviet Union. So they cannot explain by the weather, but because the Soviets use the greater part of their budget on military expenditures.
As for disarmament conference, there have been many dozens but no result whatever. The Soviet proposal at the UN was only to deceive people, so Mr. Ch’iao Kuan-hua expressed our position on it and Czar Malik was thrown into a frenzy, with the result that this proposal was postponed. Nevertheless, the Soviets asked the UN General Assembly to vote to express appreciation for their proposal.
Now both of you keep on expanding armaments like this, what will be the result. It will only be war. Of course, it may not necessarily be a nuclear war, but could start as a small-scale conventional war which could develop into a larger scale conventional war. Of course, if you two big powers can get an agreement limiting armaments, that would be good. We don’t have the least opposition to the improvement of relations between the United States and Soviet Union.
Dr. Kissinger can bear testimony to that fact. We even suggested that Mr. President visit the Soviet Union first and then us. That is what Chairman Mao wanted me to tell Dr. Kissinger, that is to say that if you felt there was advantage in visiting the Soviet Union first, you could. When I say advantages to you, it doesn’t mean a unilateral advantage, but to both sides and to the world as a whole.
But now, Mr. President, you first came to China, and Moscow is carrying on like anything. But let them go on. We don’t care. They are mobilizing a whole mass of their people, their followers, to curse us. What we are concerned about is that you two big powers spend so much money on arms expansion. What does this mean for the future of the world, the far reaching results?[Page 709]
The worst possibility is what I told Dr. Kissinger in the record of our proceedings, that is to say the eventuality that you all would attack China—the Soviet Union comes from the north, Japanese and the U.S. from the east, and India into China’s Tibet. Under these circumstances, of course, our people would have to make terrific sacrifices. But it is also possible under these circumstances that the question could be solved. Of course, that’s talking only about the worst possible contingency. But just as Dr. Kissinger and Mr. President have said, there is no conflict between our two countries; there is no necessity for our interests to conflict or for the U.S. to occupy Chinese territory, even though on philosophy our two sides differ and we have the slogan, “Down with U.S. Imperialism.” Chairman Mao mentioned this yesterday that it is just “empty cannon.” Dr. Kissinger knows the phrase.
Dr. Kissinger: The Vice Minister knows it now too.
Prime Minister Chou: And Mr. Bush. But even despite that Malik and the Soviet Union are cursing us, saying that there is a synchronized duet between the U.S. and the PRC.
President Nixon: Let me interrupt to pay a compliment to the Vice Minister. The most effective thing he did was at one point when Malik talked, he just smiled at him. That drove him nuts. (Prime Minister Chou laughs)
Prime Minister Chou: You saw that on T.V.? So you have that advantage over us. We didn’t see it here. On these matters we are still backward and we admit our backwardness. We don’t have the idea we’re number one in the world. One thing Chairman Mao constantly teaches us is that once one thinks one is number one under heaven one is bound to suffer defeat. Because no matter what people or what nation, that people and that nation are bound to have shortcomings. Similarly, that people and that country are bound to have strong points. Dr. Kissinger has said that Vietnam, although a small country, has a great people. Only in this way can one have a sense of reality.
So proceeding from these considerations, if one country tries to gain superiority over another merely through expansion of armaments, there will be no end to it.
You’re in a very important position vis-à-vis that question. You have said you have no intention to dominate the world, nor have you any territorial designs. You want to see peace in the world and first of all see a relaxation of tensions. We believe that this indeed reflects a genuine desire of your people.
But as to whether the U.S. will completely revert to isolationism, I don’t think that is possible, because the times have changed and are no longer the times of the beginning of the twentieth century. Speaking quite candidly, so-called isolationism these days is not real isolationism but merely a desire to see that other countries don’t meddle in [Page 710] the affairs of the Americas. Mr. President, you are quite right when you said that the Chinese people couldn’t understand either the Monroe Doctrine or the Open Door Policy.
The question is now of great importance not only to Sino–American relations but to the future of the world. Since neither China nor the U.S. has any territorial ambitions on the other and neither side wishes to dominate the other, and what is more, each wants to make some contribution to the relaxation of tensions in the world, then we should see to it first of all where there is a possibility for relaxation of tensions in the Far East. Because we are not in a position to look into the possibility of other parts of the world; they are too far away from us. If we were to do that, it would only give rise to new troubles. Our help to the African people is only a very small part of our efforts. So we will only talk about the situation around us, and the crucial question then is the question of Indochina.
On this question, only the Indochinese people themselves have the right to speak, to negotiate with you. But as the Indochinese area is of concern to us we should have the right to raise our voice on that matter. What’s more we have the obligation to give the Indochinese peoples assistance and support. I said this to Dr. Kissinger on a number of occasions.
Since the U.S. had decided to withdraw all of its forces from Vietnam and the whole of Indochina, and the U.S. would like to see the region more or less neutral, that is to say, non-aligned, with no particular force occupying that region, then if that is the President’s policy and that of your Government, I think it would be better to take more bold action. Otherwise, you would only facilitate the Soviets in furthering their influence there. As for us, we are not afraid of that eventuality because whatever our help to Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, we have never asked for special privileges, and we have never interfered in their internal affairs.
We have not even looked at their different ideology. For example, Prince Sihanouk’s ideology is Buddhist and we respect him. The ideology of Vietnam, too, may not necessarily be completely the same as ours, but we have never interfered in their ideology.
So in this sense the later you withdraw from Indochina, the more you’ll be in a passive position, and although your interest is to bring about an honorable conclusion of the war, the result would be to the contrary. You admitted that General DeGaulle acted wisely when he withdrew from Algeria. In fact, General DeGaulle even withdrew more than two million European inhabitants from Algeria, an action which we didn’t dare to envision, and to have withdrawn in such a short space of time. And General DeGaulle encountered great opposition at home. But maybe because he was a soldier his life might actually be [Page 711] different from that of yours, Mr. President. I know Mr. President appreciated Mr. Patton. Of course, you didn’t appreciate his desire to attack Russia, but you appreciated him for his daring and for his doing what he thought was right.
Maybe these words of mine are superfluous in trying to persuade you, Mr. President, but I want to make my views clear. It is easier for us to discuss other matters. I appreciate that on this matter we don’t see eye to eye. As Dr. Kissinger told us, on this our attitude is even stronger than Vietnam.
Dr. Kissinger: Than the Soviet Union.
Prime Minister Chou: It’s clear what they say doesn’t count. I believe it is possible for you to take bolder action, and you would only gain a better feeling. Because if peace can be brought about in that region at an earlier date, then you’ll be able to maintain more influence there.
The French have something else in mind. The French are thinking to bring the U.S. and the Soviet Union together in some form of international conference for détente. But that would not do. You don’t approve either?
President Nixon: I think that is a moot question.
Prime Minister Chou: When I consider the form of the Geneva Agreements,8 my conclusion is that this was a mistake.
President Nixon: 1954?
Prime Minister Chou: Yes. At that time we were taken in by agreeing to sign. The result for you was that the U.S. was drawn into a quagmire. At that time, President Eisenhower brought about the end of the Korean War—quite a courageous action of President Eisenhower. But President Eisenhower didn’t expect that Dulles would lead him into the morass of Indochina, and have America sink in it.
How is it conceivable that a country could enter into an agreement and not sign? You said you would live up to the agreements, but actually disturbed them. The result was the elections that were supposed to take place two years afterwards were not realized, and if they had been held, even without international supervision it goes without saying that Ho Chi Minh would have been elected throughout the country. He was a very old friend of mine—I knew him in France in 1922. If Ho Chi Minh had led the whole of Vietnam, the relations between the whole of Vietnam and the U.S. could not have deteriorated, and may have been much better.[Page 712]
But history twists and turns, just like the history of our two countries, in which after twenty-two years we are meeting again. That’s history, and there are many examples of this. But if the U.S. Government would take a very bold move in Indochina you would gain very good feelings on the part of the Indochinese people. As to how to resolve this issue I can’t say, since we do not take part in the negotiations nor do we want to take part. Our position is that so long as you are continuing your Vietnamization, Laoization, and Cambodianization policy, and they continue fighting, we can do nothing but to continue to support them.
But I would like, Mr. President, to take note of the fact that our policies of assistance to the countries of Indochina, that is Vietnam and other peoples of Indochina, differ from that regarding Korea. Why did we send the Chinese peoples [as] volunteers during the Korean War? Because Truman compelled us. He sent the Seventh Fleet in to the Taiwan Straits so that it wasn’t possible for us to recover Taiwan. What was more, his troops pressed straight toward the boundary of the Yalu River, and we declared at that time that if the American forces pressed toward the Yalu River, although China was newly liberated, we could not stand idly by. So when Truman’s forces came to the Yalu River, we had to show that what even we say counts. We couldn’t be sure, though, that we would win, because the Soviets were not willing to send forces. You are quite clear about that.
The end result was that when President Eisenhower took office, he realized the war should be brought to an end. But the loss of lives and material losses you suffered in Korea is incomparably less than in Vietnam. No one expected that. Rather than spending so much effort in a war of contention in such a localized area, you should adopt a most courageous attitude and withdraw when you should.
The Taiwan question can be discussed rather easily. For example, the five point program you mentioned was told to us by General Haig on instructions from the President, and the President reiterated it just now. We have already waited over twenty years—I am very frank here—and can wait a few more years. I can go a step further. Even when Taiwan comes back to the Motherland, we will not establish any nuclear bases there. Mr. President knows more about it than I. What use is there to establish nuclear bases in a place like that? Only the Soviets continue to hold four islands north of Japan. They will either hang on or maybe sell. What’s more, their condition for a peace treaty with Japan is that Hokkaido cannot be defended. We can tell Mr. President in advance, and also Japan, that when Taiwan returns to the Motherland we will not establish bases there. What use are they? We have no desire to send one single soldier abroad. We have no design on the territory of others. So why establish bases there? Our purpose is merely self-defense.[Page 713]
The most pressing question now is Indochina, which the whole world is watching. So in making your present visit, the Democratic Party tried to put you on the spot on this question by alleging that you came to China to settle Vietnam. Of course this is not possible. We are not in a position to settle it in talks. Of course, we can have an exchange of views on the matter in which we can proceed from a relaxation of tensions in the Far East and proceed in the interest of relaxation of tensions throughout the world. As Mr. President didn’t say much on this, I would like to hear your views. Possibly Mr. President has different views on these questions. As for the other questions, we can discuss them tomorrow. I would like to hear your views (on this) now.
President Nixon: On Vietnam?
Prime Minister Chou: Indochina as a whole.
President Nixon: Mr. Prime Minister, the problem of Vietnam is one that no longer should divide us. The Prime Minister has suggested that if we could move more quickly this would be a wise, and as he points out, courageous thing to do. This is a possibility which we have considered, but is one on balance which we feel we must reject.
Let’s look in terms of how quickly we are moving. We now have less than 100,000 [troops]. We have already removed our forces to less than 100,000, and in mid-April I will make another announcement regarding reduction of forces. We therefore would be at a point where we are only talking about two or three more months before the American role, insofar as our presence in Vietnam is concerned, will be finished, unless, of course, the problem of our prisoners is still outstanding. The difficulty we now confront is not simply ending American involvement by the withdrawal of our forces, which is now a foregone conclusion and only a matter of a few months, but the difficulty now is the question of bringing peace to the whole of Indochina, including Laos and Cambodia. That is why we believe the offer I made in October and reiterated in January is one which should be given serious consideration by the North Vietnamese.
Let me cut away the eight points, five points, and thirteen points, etc. and come right down to what our offer really is. If I were sitting across the table from whoever is the leader of North Vietnam and we could negotiate a ceasefire and the return of our prisoners, all Americans would be withdrawn from Vietnam six months from that day. And let me also point out that while we’re willing to settle on that basis, when this was suggested to the North Vietnamese as far back as the middle of last year, they rejected it and always insisted there had to be a settlement in which we had to impose a political settlement as well as to resolve the military side.
I couldn’t agree more with the Prime Minister’s view, to let the political decision be made by the people of those countries themselves [Page 714] without outside interference. We have already offered that. We have offered to withdraw all Americans, with no “tail” behind—to use the Prime Minister’s expression—and to have a ceasefire throughout Indochina provided we get our prisoners back. Then we would let the decision be made by the people there. But the North Vietnamese insist that we not only make a military settlement, they want us to impose a political future and remove the existing government and impose a government which basically would be one of their choice. That we can’t do.
I greatly respect the Prime Minister’s views on this subject because this is simply an issue on which the only gainer in having the war continue is the Soviet Union. They want the U.S. tied down. They, of course, want to get more and more influence in North Vietnam as a result. From all the intelligence we get they—should we say—may even be egging on the North Vietnamese to hold out and not settle.
I should also say that we realize we may not reach agreement on this, and who knows who’s right? We think we are right. As the Prime Minister knows, I have great respect for General DeGaulle’s resolution of the terribly difficult and wrenching Algerian experience. But what happened between France and Algeria only affected France and Algeria. France is a great country, but France at this time is no longer a world power.
If the U.S. were not only to get out of Vietnam—which we are going to do through the policy of Vietnamization in a few months in any event—but get out and at the same time join those who have been our enemies to overthrow those who have been our allies, the U.S. would in my view, perhaps be permanently destroyed insofar as being a country which any other nation could depend upon.
I realize there are views to the contrary, but when a nation is in a position the U.S. is in, where around the world, in Europe for instance, there are nations that depend on the U.S.A. for their defense, if the U.S. does not behave honorably—and I don’t believe dying for honor is enough—if the U.S. does not behave honorably, the U.S. would cease to be a nation to have as a friend and which the people of the world could depend upon as an ally.
The point that the Prime Minister has raised here is one which neither of us is going to convince the other, and I respect his point of view. I hope he can understand our policy is one which is truly designed to bring about an end of the war, not only for the people of Vietnam but for all of Southeast Asia as quickly as possible. I think it is very important for the Prime Minister to know this, because I don’t want to leave any false impressions: the negotiating track is open, and as I indicated, we are willing to negotiate a settlement on military issues alone, if they are willing, to negotiate a general political settlement in [Page 715] which Thieu would resign and an impartial commission would run the elections. If, in answer to our proposals, North Vietnam chooses to step up the fighting, I have no choice and the action I take is apt to be very strong. This is my record, and that is what it’s going to be so that other nations in the world know that the U.S. will react strongly if tested.
There is also something else very important for North Vietnam to consider. When we talk about Vietnamization, that’s the longer road. It does envisage the withdrawal of U.S. forces over a period of time, months, but on the other hand, if we are talking about total withdrawal, no residual force, that is something they are going to have to negotiate about—we’re not just going to walk out of there without an agreement.
I should point out also that there are no American forces in Cambodia and no American forces in Laos. It’s true that in relation to our policy in Vietnam we’ve found it necessary to use U.S. air action against North Vietnamese forces in both countries. If North Vietnam would withdraw its forces from Cambodia and Laos at least the war would end for those two countries, and let the people determine their own future.
The U.S. is prepared, just in conclusion, to provide a very heavy economic assistance to Cambodia, Laos, and North Vietnam for rehabilitation, and to South Vietnam in the event a settlement is made. We don’t want to leave a tail behind. We don’t want bases. And we would accept the idea the Prime Minister referred to as a neutralized area. On the other hand, it takes two to make a deal.
We really feel if our offer were seriously studied, it would be seen that we have gone very far indeed to settle military issues only and let historical processes decide or settle military and political matters in which the issue would be taken to the South Vietnamese; we would hope there would be elections. Here the situation would be very different from 1954 because here we would guarantee the elections and they would be supervised by an impartial body set up and guaranteed by outside powers.
The Prime Minister is very perceptive to note that some of my political opponents have created the impression that I am coming to see the Prime Minister in order to settle the war in Vietnam. (Prime Minister Chou laughs.) Let me say I want him to know in all candor that we, of course, would welcome any moves, any influence to get negotiations. We don’t expect anything, however, and if we cannot get any assistance we understand. We shall proceed to deal with North Vietnam in the way I have suggested. This will be a longer and harder road for them, much harder than for us. There is the shorter road of negotiations if they prefer.
Prime Minister Chou: Probably it is not easy for us to make these things very clear quickly. I have discussed this matter with Dr. [Page 716] Kissinger on many occasions. We can only remain in a position of supporting them and not speaking on their behalf. I understand the joint communiqué has been discussed?
President Nixon: Yes, I believe the communiqué draft is in very good order.
This (Vietnam) is one of the ironic situations where the U.S. will be equally damned by both the People’s Republic and the Soviet Union. (Prime Minister Chou laughs)
Dr. Kissinger: Except the People’s Republic wants the war to end and the Soviet Union wants the war to continue.
President Nixon: Yes.
Prime Minister Chou: Yes.
The President: We can be very honest in this conversation. I understand the Prime Minister’s position. We noted the Prime Minister’s comments before coming and know that this is an irritant in our relations. I want to assure the Prime Minister I am removing this irritant as fast as anyone in my position could. My predecessor sent in 500,000 men into Vietnam, and I’ve taken 500,000 out. I will end American involvement— it’s a matter of time. I can speak with certainty on this point. All we are really talking about is whether we can hasten the process, not by our moving out in a precipitate way, but by agreement.
We can—if I can put it quite directly—we will withdraw, we are withdrawing, but what we cannot do—and we believe this very strongly—we cannot remove the government of South Vietnam and in effect turn over the government to the North Vietnamese. That we cannot do. We believe they can have a fair chance to do it through what we regard as a fair election. But we are not going to withdraw and go one step further and remove the government of South Vietnam and turn it over to North Vietnam. That we cannot do. The U.S. then would be a nation which would, in my opinion, deserve nothing but contempt before the people and nations of the world, whatever their philosophies.
Prime Minister Chou: That is still your old saying—you don’t want to cast aside old friends. But you have already cast aside many old friends. Of these, some might be good friends and some might be bad friends, but you should choose your friends carefully. (PM Chiang Kai-shek was an old friend, and I said he was even an older friend of ours than yours. I cooperated with Chiang Kai-shek once. I also quarreled with him and fought against him. Chiang Kai-shek still believes in one China. That’s a good point which we can make use of. That’s why we can say that this question can be settled comparatively easily.
As for Vietnam, you went there by accident. Why not give this up? Vietnam is different from Korea because Korea was indeed divided into [Page 717] North and South by the results of the war. According to the terms the Soviet forces went north and you went south. I don’t recall whether this was a result of the Potsdam Agreement or what. It would be beneficial for the relaxation of tensions in the Far East to bring about a nonaligned Southeast Asia.
The President: I believe that will eventually happen. It is a question of…
Prime Minister Chou: You have this confidence? But if the Soviet Union goes in and you two big powers contend there, then there can be no talk of relaxation. The American government made public that reason when you increased your military expenditures. Now you have realized that we pose no threat to you, and as for us, you have no reason to believe that we have territorial designs in Southeast Asia.
The President: We have no designs on the territory of Southeast Asia either.
Prime Minister Chou: But you are tied down by the South Vietnamese regime. Actually that regime has nothing to do with your former treaties. You worked it out with Bao Dai. But according to the Dulles method you had Bao Dai represented by Diem.
The President: Bao Dai was out hunting lions.
Prime Minister Chou: Then you worked with Diem and his brother. He and his brother went to see God. These fellows are not reliable. If the U.S. really wants to create a good impression in the world, you don’t need these so-called friends. You may say that if you withdraw your influence from the area a vacuum is created and the Soviet Union will fill it up. The fact is, the later you move out, the more serious the contention there, and another Middle East will develop. Then that will be another extension of tension from the Mediterranean to the Middle East to the Indian Ocean to the Subcontinent to Southeast Asia to the South China Sea.
If the war in Indochina continues we will, of course, continue our aid to them because what we say counts, but we will not get involved unless, of course, you attack us. So tensions will continue there and, under those circumstances, how can you talk about a relaxation of tensions? When I first met Dr. Kissinger he said you wanted relaxation of tension. You must start somewhere.
The situation in Japan is different from Southeast Asia. That’s another matter.
The President: If I may interrupt. Before the Prime Minister goes on to that subject, I would only add that we have our proposal on the table now at Paris, and will continue to press it. We believe it is a fair proposition, and we think it would be in the interest of the relaxation of tension and very helpful if the North Vietnamese were to finally [Page 718] negotiate. I don’t ask the Prime Minister to do anything about it, and certainly not do anything about it publicly. I would simply say we want a relaxation of tension. We don’t want bases.
This is quite different from what I am sure the Prime Minister is going to say about Japan.
Prime Minister Chou: Let us conclude our discussion today. We still have to have dinner before going to the performance tonight.
The President: I want to say to the Prime Minister that I very much appreciated his frankness on these issues. Of course, I have tried on my part to give him my feeling of my own views on these issues. I believe that this kind of discussion these next few days will show that where great issues are involved our interests will bring us together. That is why I believe we can find understandings which will be very important for the rest of the world.
Prime Minister Chou: At least on issues which are important for the Far East.
The President: Yes.
Just as a historic note—who can be a prophet these days?—I think that looking ahead for the next twenty-five years, peace in the Pacific is going to be the key to peace in the world, there being a relative balance in Europe. The Middle East is a candidate (PM
Prime Minister Chou: When you say a generation, does that mean twenty-five years maybe?
The President: I am using it in the sense that we are one generation since World War II and in that period we in the U.S. have had two wars, in Korea and Vietnam. I’m not so presumptuous as to look beyond twenty-five years—if I can see twenty-five years ahead, that is as far ahead as I can see. And also, Mr. Prime Minister, I have often referred to the fact that every generation of Americans in this century has experienced wars—World War I, for the first generation; World War II, for the second generation; Korea in the 1950s; and Vietnam in the 1960s. I think four wars in a century is enough. (PM
Prime Minister Chou: It should be so. That’s why we also think there should be a way to solve armaments expansion.
The President: This is one subject I would like to take up at a later meeting. One reason we are pursuing the matter with the Soviet Union on limits to arms is that we believe a breakthrough in this area is essential if we are going to avoid an arms race.
Prime Minister Chou: Too much money has been spent on it. Our posterities will condemn us for such huge wastes.
President Nixon: Yes.[Page 719]
Prime Minister Chou: That is why we say we are only in the first stage. We don’t want to spend too much money. You probably took note of this.
President Nixon: Yes.
Prime Minister Chou: We say that in a very honest way. We don’t wish to expand.
The President: I understand. In terms of world peace, I would say that a strong China is in the interests of world peace at this point. I don’t mean to suggest that China should change its policy and become a superpower. But a strong China can help provide the balance of power in this key part of the world—that is desperately needed. Then, too, I have a selfish reason—if China could become a second superpower, the US could reduce its own armaments. (PM
Prime Minister Chou: You have too much confidence in us. We don’t want to.
We can meet again tomorrow at 2:00 p.m.
- Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Special Files, President’s Office Files, Box 87, Memoranda for the President. Top Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only. The meeting was held in the Great Hall of the People.↩
- See footnote 3, Document 143.↩
- All ellipses are in the source text.↩
- See footnote 13, Document 139.↩
- Lady Isobel Cripps, wife of Sir Stafford Cripps, was a World War II-era British Labour politician and Minister of Aircraft Production. She visited Mao and Chou in Yenan in 1946.↩
- President Truman sent General George C. Marshall to China in November 1946 as a special envoy to negotiate a cease-fire between Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalist troops and the Chinese Communist forces. Cease-fire was declared in 1946 but political and military questions stalemated the peace negotiations. Marshall returned to the United States in early 1947 without reaching a solution.↩
- See Foreign Relations, 1955–1957, vol. II, Document 3.↩
- The Geneva Agreements on Indochina are ibid., 1954, vol. XVI, Part 2, pp. 1505–1546.↩