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197. Memorandum of Conversation1

PARTICIPANTS

  • 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, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Chi Chao-chu, Interpreter
  • T’ang Wen-sheng, Interpreter
  • Two Notetakers
[Page 720]

(There were some opening pleasantries in which Prime Minister Chou asked about Mrs. Nixon and the President said she was fine. He added that she had been impressed with the acupuncture demonstrations she had seen. The President noted that there were forecasts of snow and asked if they would get to the Great Wall the next day. Chou responded yes.

Chiang Kai-shek, a very great turning point. The battle was near Tsunyi, in Kweichow province, after which the Communist forces marched west into Yunnan. In response to the President’s question of whether this was the battle in which the Communists crossed the river, Prime Minister Chou said this occurred later. Prime Minister Chou then proceeded to describes the battle and the various maneuvers used by the Communists to achieve victory. He gave a very detailed and precise rendition of the military maneuvers, describing the battle with great vigor and arm movements.)

President Nixon: Did Chairman Mao make all the strategic and tactical decisions or did he have a staff organization?

Prime Minister Chou: Yes. I could be considered one of the members of his staff at that time. But it was Chairman Mao who took the initiative on how far we should march every day and where we should stay at night. Chairman Mao made all the strategic decisions.

President Nixon: We hope we have no necessity of facing you in battle after hearing that description.

Prime Minister Chou: I don’t think that will happen. I hope it won’t.

President Nixon: It won’t.

Prime Minister Chou: You know our policy. We don’t disguise our policy. We of course support revolutions waged by the peoples of the world, but we don’t send a single soldier abroad. The revolution of any country must depend on the people of their country.

That was the case with George Washington, in your eight-year war of independence. Of course, at that time you had the assistance of the volunteers of Lafayette; they were not troops sent by the State of France. Also Abraham Lincoln in his Civil War had volunteers. He was defeated in many battles, but he was finally able to turn the tide of battle. He was able because he relied on the people. He had three phrases about the people. If something is really important, we then can really mobilize the people.

And although our philosophies differ, we think in managing our state relations we should act in accordance with the five principles of peaceful coexistence that I mentioned yesterday at the banquet.

[Page 721]

Actually the five principles were put forward by us, and Nehru 2 agreed. But later on he didn’t implement them. In my previous discussions with Dr. Kissinger, I mentioned a book by Neville Maxwell about the Indian war against us, which proves this.3

President Nixon: I read the book.

Dr. Kissinger: I gave it to the President.

President Nixon: I committed a faux pas—Dr. Kissinger said it was—but I knew what I was doing. When Mrs. Gandhi was in my office before going back, just before the outbreak of the war, I referred to that book and said it was a very interesting account of the beginning of the war between India and China. She didn’t react very favorably when I said that (Chou laughs).

Prime Minister Chou: Yes, but you spoke the truth. It wasn’t a faux pas. Actually that event was instigated by Khrushchev.

President Nixon: You think it was? Khrushchev?

Prime Minister Chou: He encouraged them. Mr. Holdridge probably knows this. He has studied it.

Mr. Holdridge: I can remember the editorial that came out in the press.

Prime Minister Chou: In looking at 1962, the events actually began in 1959. Why did he go to Camp David? In June of that year, before he went to Camp David, he unilaterally tore up the nuclear agreements between China and the Soviet Union. And after that there were clashes between Chinese and Indian troops in the western part of Sinkiang, the Ak-sai Chin area. In that part of Sinkiang province there is a high plateau. The Indian-occupied territory was at the foot of the Karakorums, and the disputed territory was on the slope between.

Dr. Kissinger: It’s what they call Ladakh.

President Nixon: They attacked up the mountain.

Prime Minister Chou: We fought them and beat them back, with many wounded. But the TASS Agency said that China had committed aggression against India. After saying that, Khrushchev went to Camp David. And after he came back from Camp David he went to Peking, where he had a banquet in the Great Hall of the People. The day after the banquet he went to see Chairman Mao. Our two sides met in a meeting.

[Page 722]

At that time our Foreign Minister was Marshal Chen Yi, who has now passed away. Marshal Chen Yi asked him: “Why didn’t you ask us before releasing your news account? Why did you rely on the Indian press over the Chinese press? Wasn’t that a case of believing in India more than us, a fraternal country?”

And what did Khrushchev say? “You are a Marshal and I am only a Lieutenant General, so I will not debate with you.” He was also soured, and did not shake hands when he left. But he had no answer to that. He was slightly more polite to me.

President Nixon: To the Prime Minister?

Prime Minister Chou: Yes. He said: “The casualties on the Indian side were greater than yours, so that’s why I believe they were victims of aggression.” If the side with the most casualties is to be considered the victim of aggression, what logic would that be? For example, at the end of the Second World War, Hitler’s troops were all casualties or taken prisoner, and that means that Hitler was the victim of aggression. They just don’t listen to reason.

So they had no way of passing this away, and anyway, the TASS Agency account had the effect of encouraging India. And also Neville Maxwell mentioned in the book that in 1962 the Indian Government believed what the Russians told them that we, China, would not retaliate against them. Of course we won’t send our troops outside our borders to fight against other people. We didn’t even try to expel Indian troops from the area south of the McMahon line, which China doesn’t recognize, by force. But if your (e.g. Indian) troops come up north of the McMahon line, and come even further into Chinese territory, how is it possible for us to refrain from retaliating? We sent three open telegrams to Nehru asking him to make a public reply, but he refused. He was so discourteous; he wouldn’t even do us the courtesy of replying, so we had no choice but to drive him out.

You know all the other events in the book, so I won’t describe them, but India was encouraged by the Soviet Union to attack.

Of course, Mr. President also comes from Camp David, but we have no interest in asking you not to have good relations with the Soviet Union. And we also hope that you will reach agreements with the Soviet Union on disarmament and other matters. We have even expressed the wish that you visit the Soviet Union first.

President Nixon: I would like to ask the Prime Minister a question with regard to Bangladesh recognition. I know his government must make a decision on recognition, and we must make our own. As I told you yesterday, we have delayed recognition, even though Britain and other countries have done so.

Prime Minister Chou: France has also recognized Bangladesh.

[Page 723]

President Nixon: Before we make a decision on that, we have tried to find out the attitude of Bhutto. And Bhutto has indicated he does not object to recognition. In fact he could see that we would have some advantage in not leaving the field clear to the Soviet Union in that region. It is our understanding that India is supposed to withdraw all its forces from Bangladesh by the 24th of March. And based on that we have for consideration—the decision is not yet made—we have for consideration the possibility of recognizing Bangladesh about that time.

I wonder what the Prime Minister’s reaction is to that?

Prime Minister Chou: As for the first matter, we have always stressed that the General Assembly and Security Council Resolutions passed by the United Nations should be implemented, because these have won the support of both of our nations and of the people of the world.

President Nixon: Ten to one.

Prime Minister Chou: In the past, generally speaking there hasn’t been so large a majority vote. After vetoing the resolutions three times, the Soviet Union was embarrassed to veto further, and could only abstain. Of course, it was finally passed at a rather late date, but it still had some binding moral force. By that time India had already seized East Pakistan, but they stopped their advances toward West Pakistan.

President Nixon: That was the important thing.

Prime Minister Chou: Because of this we truly wish to see them truly withdraw their troops in East Pakistan, now called Bangladesh. We wish to see them truly do this and not just with words. Of course they can only do that superficially, because if they get some Bengali forces to remain and join with Mujibir Rahman, there would be no way to be sure because the Bengalis all look the same. But that would bring trouble to the future of India and Mrs. Gandhi herself.

Also, in the West both sides should also truly cease-fire and withdraw their troops, and they must come together to negotiate. The Indians said they had no territorial ambitions, but the development of events is that they have remained in their place and have refused to withdraw. Once again we can only cite the events of the Indian aggression in the 1962 war. At that time our troops pressed to the foothills quite close to Tezpur in Assam, and when they reached that place, Chairman Mao ordered that all troops should turn back. We turned back all the equipment to the Indians—this is in Maxwell’s book—and we withdrew all troops back north of the so-called McMahon line because one must show one can be trusted and must not wait for others to act. One must do one’s own account and show good faith.

And since she (India) has also agreed to the UN resolution that things should be settled in the eastern part of Bengal, why are they not willing to settle with West Pakistan? At least the issue of West Pakistan [Page 724]should be settled, because if the question of West Pakistan is not resolved there is bound to be a return of trouble in the future. From our point of view, even if the subcontinent were under one country there would still be turmoil there, because they have nationality problems there even more complicated than yours which are now covered up. If India took over all of the subcontinent, there would be even more trouble. India is not able to exercise hegemony—this is our philosophy. But speaking from the question of state relations, this should not be done because, after all, after the partition Pakistan became an independent country in 1947. This was something left over from Britain.

President Nixon: 1949.

Prime Minister Chou: 1947.

President Nixon: 1947.

Prime Minister Chou: Since that is the case, then India should withdraw its troops from the areas it is occupying in West Pakistan, and Pakistan should also withdraw from the lesser areas it occupies in India. Bhutto agrees. These two things, at least, the Indian side should abide by. If the U.S. recognizes Bangladesh after this situation is brought about, then we believe this would raise the prestige of the U.S. in the United Nations. And you would be in a better position to speak on this issue.

After all, what you want is to bring about the withdrawal of all troops from Bangladesh and West Pakistan. Also, you will be able to encourage Mr. Bhutto and give him some assistance. That is what they need. You said your actions should be parallel with ours, and we don’t mind that. We said that both to Yahya, the former President, and to the present President. Both of us owe something to Yahya, although he didn’t show much statesmanship in leading his country, for bringing the link between our two countries.

President Nixon: He is a bridge.

Prime Minister Chou: We should not forget and we cannot forget, especially that Dr. Kissinger was able through him to come secretly for talks here. And when a man makes a contribution to the world, we should remember him.

Dr. Kissinger: Actually the President sent a message to Bhutto that he should treat Yahya well in retirement and we would not look favorably on any retribution. It was a personal message from the President.

Prime Minister Chou: He also told us that he was taking good care of him and protecting him, and that if he didn’t do so, some other generals would want to take care of him (Yahya) differently.

Of course we don’t want to interfere in others’ internal affairs, but Yahya really did not lead his troops in East Pakistan well. Even though [Page 725]we assisted with armaments, we didn’t send a single military personnel, what the Soviet Union calls military adviser. We only sent some people to train in the use of the planes and guns we sent, and afterwards brought those people back. At the time of the ceasefire they (the Pakistanis) still had 80,000 troops in East Pakistan. It was not a situation in which they couldn’t keep fighting. We know the Pakistanis are good fighters, and the men wanted to keep on. The trouble was the Commanders were terrible—they really just scattered the troops. General Patton, whom you admire, would not have done that. Yahya should have concentrated his troops to win a victory, and once the Indian side had suffered a defeat they would have stopped because West Bengal was not very secure either. The Indians had eight divisions at first, but these were also scattered. They had three divisions in the west part of East Bengal; the northwest part had two divisions; in the eastern part they also had two divisions.

They also had two other divisions on the McMahon line, which they didn’t move. They only took one division from the McMahon line down to East Pakistan. Also, in Sikkim they originally had an army of three divisions, from which they took one division over to eight in East Pakistan and left two divisions facing us.

If at that time the Pakistanis had concentrated a force of 40,000 against one Indian division, they would have been able to win and that would have demoralized the Indians. So at that time even our Vice Foreign Minister still believed they could win the war. Bhutto too. They are both men of letters; not soldiers. But we didn’t believe this. We said that if they fought, they would sacrifice everything.

(To Dr. Kissinger) Can that be said here?

Dr. Kissinger: Absolutely.

Prime Minister Chou: You saw Huang Hua on December 10.

Dr. Kissinger: Yes, the 10th.4

Prime Minister Chou: That time was the best time, the first ten days of December. They lost within 20 days. That was from the 25th of November to the 15th of December, but at that time they still had plenty of time. President Yahya was probably a good man, a man of good intentions, but he didn’t know how to lead an army, how to fight. So there was some reason for the dissatisfaction of the younger generals in the Pakistani army with President Yahya, but there is also some reason to say good words about him. I agree with that spirit.

[Page 726]

President Nixon: As Dr. Kissinger said in his conversations with the Prime Minister, one doesn’t burn down a bridge which has proved useful.

Prime Minister Chou: Yes, there’s a Chinese saying that to tear down a bridge after having crossed it is not good.

President Nixon: With regard to Bangladesh, in view of what the Prime Minister said, we will have Dr. Kissinger inform you with regard to the timing of recognition. Our decision will be made depending on our information with regard to Indian withdrawals, but we will inform you about that decision. We are pressing the Indians to withdraw and we believe we have some leverage there.

Now with regard to the problem of West Pakistan. We want to help there because it is essential to carry out the Prime Minister’s philosophy which is also ours, that no nation should establish dominance in that part of the subcontinent. We have a problem with regard to military assistance, because our Congress, and as I informed the Prime Minister and as the Deputy Foreign Minister knows, American public opinion, oppose military assistance to Pakistan. Incidentally, in retrospect it is my belief that had we been able to provide more assistance to Pakistan it would have averted war, because India wouldn’t have been tempted to win what they thought was a cheap victory. But that is water over the dam.

Prime Minister Chou: And I would also like to add here that the Pakistani Government policy toward East Pakistan had many errors. But because this was their internal matter we could only give advice and nothing more.

Dr. Kissinger: (Reading from a cable5) Mr. President, you were speaking of military shipments. We have information that the Soviet Union has shipped since November 150 tanks from Poland and 100 armored personnel carriers from Czechoslovakia. They were shipped in two ships each month in November and December. In January a third ship was to bring military equipment to India.

President Nixon: To India?

Dr. Kissinger: To India.

President Nixon: The problem is to find some way that West Pakistan can find some military equipment and assistance. On our side, what we will do is to supply substantial amounts of economic assistance to West Pakistan. That would enable West Pakistan to—we would think in the interest of its defense—to acquire arms from other sources. As a matter of fact, that is the tragedy of our policy in India. We supplied almost 10 billion dollars in assistance to India in the last 20 years—very little [Page 727]was military assistance, it was economic—and that relieved India so that it could purchase very substantial amounts of arms from the Soviet Union, and also manufacture arms. That was not our intent, but that’s what happened.

With regard to our aid to India on this point—economic assistance— we are going to move in a very measured way. I am resisting considerable pressure from the public and the press to rush in and resume economic assistance at former levels. (Chou laughs) We are going to wait and see what India does with regard to the border problem and our relations generally.

Prime Minister Chou: And India actually is a bottomless hole. (President Nixon laughs)

President Nixon: When the Prime Minister referred to the problem India has with Bangladesh, as I look at India’s brief history, it has had enough trouble trying to digest West Bengal. If now it tries to digest East Bengal it may cause indigestion which would be massive.

Prime Minister Chou: That’s bound to be so. It is also a great pity that the daughter (Madame Gandhi) has also taken as her legacy the philosophy of her father embodied in the book Discovery of India (in English).6 Have you read it?

Dr. Kissinger: He was thinking of a great Indian empire?

Prime Minister Chou: Yes, he was thinking of a great Indian empire— Malaysia, Ceylon, etc. It would probably also include our Tibet. When he was writing that book he was in a British prison, but one reserved for gentlemen in Darjeeling. Nehru told me himself that the prison was in Sikkim, facing the Himalayan mountains. At the time I hadn’t read the book, but my colleague Chen Yi had, and called it to my attention. He said it was precisely the spirit of India which was embodied in the book. Later on when I read it I had the same thought.

President Nixon: When did Chen Yi die?

Prime Minister Chou: Just recently. Chairman Mao attended the funeral. He had cancer of the stomach. Do you have a way of curing cancer?

President Nixon: It is a serious problem. One of the programs we want to undertake this year is a massive research program on cancer. We hope to have such a program. Who knows when we will find the answer? Scientific genius is not natural any place in the world, and we don’t know where to find it—here, or there. But whatever money is required will now be provided for massive cancer research.

Prime Minister Chou: We can cooperate in that field.

[Page 728]

President Nixon: We would approve of that. I was going to suggest it in the counterpart meetings if the question of medical research comes up. We will make all our facilities available on cancer, because research should not be for one country but for all the countries of the world.

Prime Minister Chou: (Nods) Yes. There would be some beneficial cooperation in this field for the world.

President Nixon: With regard to the subcontinent, I should emphasize our policy is not anti-Indian any more than the Prime Minister’s policy is anti-Indian. It’s pro-peace. It is the right of every nation in the subcontinent to survive and develop. This right should be recognized and protected, and if one country should be allowed to gobble up another, it would be a very unsafe world. We apply that to every country, including ourselves.

Prime Minister Chou: It would be another question if the people of that country rise up themselves to change the government. It is quite another thing if foreign troops invade a country. That can’t be allowed. That’s a very important principle.

President Nixon: We shall set up procedures to inform you on recognition.

Dr. Kissinger: Exactly, through our channels.

President Nixon: Through the established channel, in Paris.

Prime Minister Chou: We will probably recognize Bangladesh later on. Perhaps we will be the last one. Our reasons for that have to do with two questions. The first is the withdrawal of Indian troops from both East Pakistan and West Pakistan. The second thing is it would not do for them (the Indians) to proclaim that the problem of Kashmir is already settled because the UN hasn’t agreed and we (sic) still have observers there. It is very complicated. It is also something that Great Britain deliberately left behind.

President Nixon: It’s so sad because Kashmir has poisoned relations between India and Pakistan since 1947.

Prime Minister Chou: But Britain purposely left that problem behind. Another question is that the Islamic countries haven’t recognized Bangladesh, and we must respect their views.

President Nixon: We must respect them too.

Dr. Kissinger: We had a letter from Bourghiba7 expressing approval of your stand on India/Pakistan.

Prime Minister Chou: Even Bourghiba, who is considered to be a rightist, has supported Pakistan. As Chairman Mao mentioned yesterday, sometimes it is a good thing to be on the right.

[Page 729]

President Nixon: Another is the Shah.8 He’s on the right, but he’s “right” in this instance. (Chou laughs before the translation)

Prime Minister Chou: And also your case. You dared to have contact with China. Mr. Mansfield has said that he wouldn’t have had the courage to come. But he supports you.

President Nixon: Yes.

Prime Minister Chou: Last night I received all the news reports from your country on your visit. I found that all views I saw were favorable, even Meany of the AFL–CIO supported you.

President Nixon: Meany? That’s really a surprise.

Prime Minister Chou: He said that you had done right.

President Nixon: The Prime Minister would like Mr. Meany. He’s a man of the people, very earthy and very honest, but he’s not always right. (Chinese laugh)

Prime Minister Chou: It is impossible for a person to be correct always. No one on earth can call himself infallible. (President Nixon laughs)

President Nixon: I was going to say—the Prime Minister mentioned Senator Mansfield—while he is, of course, of the other party and has disagreed with us on some policies, as he should, on our Chinese initiative he has been a strong supporter. He visited China many years ago, as did Senator Scott the Republican leader. Before we left I said that I would mention to the Prime Minister that I think it would be useful, and significant, if the Republican leader of the Senate and the Democratic leader could visit China. It would show bipartisan support. This would not be now, when Congress is still in session, but perhaps later on at the end of the session in July. And your government may want to consider this. I’m saying this because they asked me, but I did want to bring it up.

Prime Minister Chou: Congress will recess in July?

The President: Yes, around July.

Prime Minister Chou: We have abided by our promise to Dr. Kissinger, and even though we had considered allowing—we felt it would be difficult to refuse to let some people in the political field come after (last) July—even so we have still put off this matter until your present visit. I think it was more beneficial to have them come after your visit. We think your present proposal is a very good one, and it would be even better if they came together.

President Nixon: They are two very good friends, although they are a Republican and a Democrat. On this issue they agree. They would not embarrass your government if they come.

[Page 730]

Dr. Kissinger: It’s fair to tell the Prime Minister that Senator Scott sometimes has the same tendency of our Japanese friends—anything you say to him is likely to find its way into the press. (Prime Minister Chou laughs)

President Nixon: But Mansfield does not leak. Now to show how fair I am, I’ll say that the Democrat does not leak but the Republican does leak. (Chinese laughter) All the virtue is not just in one party in our country.

I do appreciate the Prime Minister’s actions in not having political personages before my visit. I wish to emphasize that this visit has bipartisan support, and for other visits now it would be perfectly proper. As I indicated to the Prime Minister it is important to have policy carried forward whoever sits in this chair next year. I may be here next year and I may not, under our system. I want to be sure of that whether a Democrat or Republican occupies the presidency—actually I expect to be here, but I may not. It is bigger than one party or one man. It involves the future for years to come. When I go back I’m going to enlist bipartisan support for what we agree to and for continuing that.

Prime Minister Chou: Yes, from what I read last night about the response of public opinion in your country, both to your actions and our speeches, we find that on that response you have done right and we believe this unprecedented event is a correct action. Although there are four forces that oppose you, pro-Soviet, pro-India, pro-Japanese and pro-Chiang Kai-shek, yet the strength combined of their voices is not very loud. George Ball 9 also opposes you, doesn’t he? Is he pro-Indian?

President Nixon and Dr. Kissinger: He is pro-Japanese.

President Nixon: He represents some Japanese businesses. He thinks in different terms.

Prime Minister Chou: And Mr. Reischauer. And even if Walter Judd or McIntyre10 or George Ball or (to Dr. Kissinger) your former student, Reischauer, would like to come here, we wouldn’t oppose that.

President Nixon: Yes. We think it would be best if people came here—I would not dictate a decision of Chairman Mao and Prime Minister Chou—to have the two leaders of the Senate. This avoids having political candidates. A candidate does not act sometimes with the same responsibility as someone who is not a candidate.

[Page 731]

Prime Minister Chou: Yes, they try to seize an opportunity. In your dining room upstairs we also have a poem by Chairman Mao in his calligraphy about Lushan mountain, the last sentence of which reads “the beauty lies at the top of the mountain.” You have also risked something to come to China. There is another Chinese poem which reads: “On perilous peaks dwells beauty in its infinite variety.”

President Nixon: We are at the top of the mountain now. (Chinese laughter)

Prime Minister Chou: That’s one poem. Another one which I would have liked to put up, but I couldn’t find an appropriate place, is “Ode to a Plum Blossom,” I had an original plan to take you to see the plum blossoms, in Hangchow, but I have heard that their time has already passed. They are ahead of season this year.

Dr. Kissinger: They have passed already?

Prime Minister Chou: I don’t know why. In other years they have not shed so early.

In that poem the Chairman meant that one who makes an initiative may not always be one who stretches out his or her hand. By the time the blossoms are full-blown, that is the time they are about to disappear. (Chou reads the whole poem) The Chinese at the same time have a different meaning for this. (Chou gestures at the end as he reads the poem)

President Nixon: That’s very beautiful.

Prime Minister Chou: Therefore we believe we are in accord with the idea you just now expressed. You are the one who made the initiative. You may not be there to see its success, but of course we would welcome your return. We would think that is a very scientific approach.

Dr. Kissinger: A very unlikely event, though.

Prime Minister Chou: Of course, that’s what you should say.

I was only trying to illustrate the Chinese way of thinking. It does not matter anyhow. Regardless of who is the next President, the spirit of ’76 still exists and will prevail. From the standpoint of policies, I hope that our counterpart will be the same so we can continue our efforts. We also hope not only that the President continues in office but that your adviser and assistants continue in office. Also various changes may be bound to come. For example, if I should suddenly die of a fatal heart attack, you would also have to find another counterpart. Therefore, we try to bring more people to meet you. At least perhaps the interpreters have the hope of living longer than the Prime Minister.

I hope you won’t complain that I am too lengthy in my words.

President Nixon: Not at all. I am very interested.

Prime Minister Chou: This belongs to the philosophic field, but also to the political point of view. For example, this poem was written [Page 732]after military victory over the enemy. In the whole poem there is not one word about the enemy; it was very difficult to write the poem.

President Nixon: Of course, I believe it is very useful to think in philosophic terms. Too often we look at problems of the world from the point of view of tactics. We take the short view. If those who wrote that poem took the short view, you would not be here today. It is essential to look at the world not just in terms of immediate diplomatic battles and decisions but the great forces that move the world. Maybe we have some disagreements, but we know there will be changes, and we know that there can be a better, and I trust safer, world for our two peoples regardless of differences if we can find common ground. As the Prime Minister and I both have emphasized in our public toasts and in our private meetings, the world can be a better and more peaceful place.

I think one thing which Dr. Kissinger has greatly contributed in his services to my administration is his philosophic view. He takes the long view, which is something I try to do also, except sometimes my schedule is so filled with practical matters and decisions on domestic and foreign policy that I don’t have as much time to take the long view as he does.

I think if we could … incidentally, I should mention to the Prime Minister he can be sure that if we survive the next political battle, as we hope and expect to do, I will still have Dr. Kissinger with me.11 He can’t afford to stay, but I can’t afford to have him leave, because the book he would write would tell too much. (Prime Minister Chou laughs)

Prime Minister Chou: Yes, indeed, I think it would be better if he remained (to Dr. Kissinger). Yes, if it is your wish to promote the normalization of relations between China and the United States and if you left before fulfilling that mission, just to write a mere book, that would not be in accord with your philosophy.

Dr. Kissinger: I will not leave as long as the President thinks I can be of service and I will not write a book in any event.

President Nixon: I will amend that in one way. I will authorize him to write a book, but he must write poetry.

Prime Minister Chou: Write poetry; I like that. That would be good.

Dr. Kissinger: Because of my Germanic origin it would be 400 pages. (Prime Minister Chou laughs)

Prime Minister Chou: As for the question of Korea, we know of course your ideas, and of course you also know our ideas. First, the [Page 733]official policy of the President is that he is prepared to finally withdraw troops from Korea in the future, and also to prevent the entry of Japanese forces into South Korea because this would not be beneficial to the cause of peace in the Far East. How does one promote contacts between North and South Korea? How does one promote peaceful reunification? That question will take a long time.

President Nixon: What is important here is that both of us exert influence to restrain our allies.

Let me give you an historical note. In 1953, in my first trip around the world as Vice President, President Eisenhower gave me a long oral message for Syngman Rhee. Syngman Rhee was thinking of going north and I had the unpleasant duty to tell him that he couldn’t go, and that if he did we wouldn’t support him. I remember Syngman Rhee cried when I told him. I was the one that kept Syngman Rhee from going north. Of course, I was the agent of President Eisenhower, his Vice President. This story has never been told before.

Prime Minister Chou: Yes, and the characteristics of Syngman Rhee as you just now described are also similar to what we have heard about him.

President Nixon: Similar to what?

Dr. Kissinger: What he had heard about him.

Prime Minister Chou: A few years after that he left the scene.

President Nixon: The Koreans, both the North and the South, are emotionally impulsive people. It is important that both of us exert influence to see that these impulses, and their belligerency, don’t create incidents which would embarrass our two countries. It would be silly, and unreasonable to have the Korean peninsula be the scene of a conflict between our two governments. It happened once, and it must never happen again. I think that with the Prime Minister and I working together we can prevent this.

Prime Minister Chou: The thing is also to promote their contacts.

President Nixon: Like the Red Cross and political contacts.

Prime Minister Chou: And we think also it will be good when the day comes that the United Nations Commission for Unification and Rehabilitation of Korea should be able to end its life. That would be a good thing.

Dr. Kissinger: We are examining this question, Mr. President.

President Nixon: You raised that with Dr. Kissinger, and we are looking into it.

With regard to Japan, I must emphasize what I said yesterday. It is our policy to discourage Japan from any military intervention in Korea, but the extent to which we are able to implement that policy will depend on the extent to which we maintain close relations with Japan.

[Page 734]

I cannot guarantee it, but we believe we can very strongly influence Japan and our purpose will be to discourage any Japanese adventure against Korea or Taiwan.

Prime Minister Chou: I always try to cite the 1969 Joint Communiqué,12 but now the situation has changed. The situation on Okinawa has begun to change. And the question they face now is not Taiwan or South Korea, but the question of the four islands in the north.

President Nixon: I hope our Soviet friends will be as generous with Japan as we were on Okinawa. (Chinese laughter) I told Sato that when I saw him in San Clemente. The Okinawa decision was the right thing to do, after a period of time, for it belonged to Japan.

Prime Minister Chou: What caused the dissatisfaction of the Japanese people was that you still maintain nuclear bases. That still causes a problem.

President Nixon: That is a political issue created by the opposition to Sato. The point is really a false issue, because the problem of nuclear bases is covered by the statements we made at the time and later.

Dr. Kissinger: We have moved all nuclear weapons off Okinawa. They have already left.

President Nixon: There are none there.

Prime Minister Chou: Japan is now at the crossroads, as I had discussed with Dr. Kissinger. If Japan were to be able to make a friendly approach to both China and the United States, then the development of its economy could be in a more regular way, not such an abnormal way as it has been up to now. Its previous development is abnormal. That is very clear because they have no raw materials; their raw materials come from abroad and their markets also. Since their development has been at such a great rate the result is bound to be expansion abroad. Expanding in such a great way as they are toward foreign lands, the inevitable result will be military expansion.

You have now also said that your relationship with Japan is one of partnership, not the previous relationship between the victor and a defeated force. But when they reach a certain point they will cease listening to your words, and this development, if it goes in such a direction, will affect the security of the entire Pacific. Because of their tradition of militaristic thinking, this would be quite worrisome to some other people. Of course, only a very small section of their population are militaristic—old politicians and military men left over from the [Page 735]Second World War, who in recent years have been making a lot of propaganda. And as you mentioned in our previous meeting, neither you nor we will forget the historical past between us and Japan.

We hope that a new, independent, peaceful and democratic Japan will appear which will express a friendly attitude toward China and the United States.

President Nixon: I want the Prime Minister to know that we do have an alliance with Japan despite the great war we fought with Japan. We have developed a friendly relationship which you have described as a partnership, including the economic field. We believe that this relationship is actually in the interests of peace in the Pacific. Because the Japanese as a people have drive and a history of expansionism; if they are left alone as an economic giant and a military pygmy the inevitable result, I think, will be at this point to make them susceptible to the demands of the militarists.

If, on the other hand, we in the United States can continue a close relationship with them, providing their defense—because they cannot have a nuclear defense—we believe this can restrain Japan from following a course which the Prime Minister correctly pointed out could happen, of economic expansion being followed by military expansion. Our policy is, to the extent possible, to restrain the Japanese from going from economic expansion to military expansion. But we can only do that if we have a close relationship with them. If we don’t have that close relationship, they aren’t going to pay any attention to us.

The Prime Minister pointed out yesterday the danger, based on past history, that China might be carved up by its major neighbors, by the Soviet Union, India, by Japan, or possibly even by the United States. I, of course, can assure him unqualifiedly that not only will the U.S. never follow such a policy, but, to the extent we have influence, we will attempt to discourage Japan and others if they embark on such a policy.

One of the tragedies of history … Dr. Kissinger would tell you that I have read China’s history at night, on many nights; I didn’t know much about it, not adequately, and hadn’t known that China’s history has been one of so many foreign invasions. China is so strong it absorbs— as it has been said, China sifts all water that runs into it. On the other hand, as the leaders of their country, the Prime Minister and Chairman Mao rightly must be concerned by what happened in the past and must make every effort so that it does not happen in the future. The Prime Minister can be sure that the new relationship which we have established is one which will serve that purpose. We are not talking in terms of being philanthropic—it is in our own self-interest. It is in the interest of the United States that China be a strong independent country and that China’s neighbors not engage in carving it up.

[Page 736]

I would like to give—before taking ten minute break—I would like to give the Prime Minister one other assurance. I am sure the Prime Minister, who follows our press very closely has noted that some rather cynical observers have implied that it would be in our interests to have the two great socialist superpowers—the USSR is one, and China could be one—be in conflict because this would make things safer for us. Some have written this. The Prime Minister probably didn’t notice this, but I was asked in one of my press conferences a year ago about this, and I categorically said that it was not in the interest of the United States to have war between the Soviet Union and China. War between major powers can never be contained, and the whole world would become involved.

Prime Minister Chou: Because everything is linked.

President Nixon: Now to the assurance that I give the Prime Minister.

Prime Minister Chou: Yes, I also read your press conference.

President Nixon: To the assurances I already gave the Prime Minister I add this. In December, when the situation was getting very sensitive in the subcontinent—I’m using understatement—I was prepared to warn the Soviet Union against undertaking an attack on China. A warning, of course, means nothing unless the individual being warned realizes you may have the will to carry it out. Insofar as Japan is concerned and India, there is no question about where our influence will be used. With regard to the Soviet Union, I can also give assurances that the U.S. would oppose any attempt by the Soviet Union to engage in an aggressive action against China. This we would do because we believe it is in our interest, and in the interest of preserving peace as well, world peace.

Prime Minister Chou: Perhaps they now feel calmer, more at ease, after reading the World Report, the first part.13

Dr. Kissinger: They complained bitterly to us. (Chou laughs)

President Nixon: Shall we take a ten-minute break? Afterwards, perhaps, I would like to hear the Prime Minister’s views on this.

Prime Minister Chou: The World Report part on the Soviet Union was the thickest. After they read that they became quieter.

President Nixon: We had to devote the most attention to the nation which, as of now, seemed to pose the greatest threat to peace.

(At this time 4:00 p.m., the two sides took a ten-minute break.)

Dr. Kissinger: The Soviet Ambassador complained bitterly about the World Report, the Arms Control and South Asian sections.

[Page 737]

President Nixon: Dobrynin.

Prime Minister Chou: Is that so? He probably thought that Dr. Kissinger drew up those sections for the President.

President Nixon: I don’t want to blame Dr. Kissinger for our Indian policy, since when he writes his book he will point out it was my policy.

The Indian decisions were mine. If anything, again speaking to the Prime Minister in the confidence we always use, we made two mistakes. The first of these I could do nothing about—not seeing that Pakistan had enough arms to discourage an Indian attack. Secondly, when I saw Mrs. Gandhi I made the mistake of listening to my advisers, who said to reassure her. So I spent the whole time reassuring her when I should have warned her. So I’m the hard-liner on India. I must say he (Dr. Kissinger) was a conspirator with me. We agreed on that policy. (Prime Minister Chou laughs)

I would like to get the Prime Minister’s views on a very fundamental question. As he knows, we are planning to have a meeting with the Soviet leaders, neither of whom I have met before. Our policy as the Prime Minister has also agreed, should be one of seeking arms limitation and a relaxation of tension if possible. We will of course make no, and have no, understandings with the Soviet Union that we will not only inform your government and the Prime Minister about, but also in any event would provide the option of having a similar understanding with China.

For example, we have already made some progress in this area, unilaterally without any understanding as to what comes from it. I have made a further adjustment with respect to trade just before this trip, to put China and the Soviet Union on an absolutely equal footing. We made that announcement just before we came here.

And now to my question. As the Prime Minister knows, I feel that it isn’t pieces of paper that you sign but the motives behind these pieces of paper that really matter. Why, in the Prime Minister’s view, is the Soviet Union so critical of the meeting we are now having? What is the reason behind its policy? China has not criticized the fact that we are meeting with the Soviets; in fact you suggested that we go there first. Why is the Soviet Union so critical? It would be helpful to get the Prime Minister’s view on that.

Prime Minister Chou: The policy of the Soviet Union, although they don’t admit it themselves, is actually a policy of expansion, but they don’t admit that. In the course of this expansion they, of course, meet with criticism and naturally our criticism is rather sharp. And our criticism also has its influence in the world. We have called them “social-imperialists.” They don’t like that name, but they have no way of defending themselves because this name we have given them was taken from Lenin.

[Page 738]

Dr. Kissinger: (Looking toward Vice Minister Ch’iao): He’s particularly bad.

Prime Minister Chou: Lenin talked about people who were socialist in words but imperialist in deeds. We began to give them this name when they invaded Czechoslovakia. At that occasion, it happened just by coincidence that Romanian National Day occurred at that time. On that day I personally went to the Romanian Embassy and in front of the Soviet Ambassador I gave them that title. (President Nixon and Dr. Kissinger laugh.)

Since then they have hated us to the very core and since then they have been haggling with us. They have been doing various things to cause us great trouble. Because an overwhelming great number of countries of the world would have the same feeling about them, not to mention the peoples of the world.

The second point is that we also want to relax tensions between the Soviet Union and China to a certain extent. It was Kosygin, one of the troika, who came to do that.

President Nixon: In 1965?

Prime Minister Chou: In 1969. He came through China on the 11th of September, 1969.

Dr. Kissinger: In 1969 on his way back from attending the funeral of Ho Chi Minh in North Vietnam.

Prime Minister Chou: Even before that they created the Chen Pao Island incident in the Ussuri River in the northeastern part of China.

That occurred in March 1969. It happened exactly when we were preparing to convene the Ninth Congress of the Chinese Communist Party. And Mr. President, who is a great American lawyer and has a knowledge of the laws, will know that an international boundary running along a river should go along the centerline of the main channel. And that was also stipulated in the diplomatic dictionary that was compiled under the direct (sic) direction of Gromyko. In Russian, of course. But they don’t apply that rule to us. The two boundary rivers between China and the Soviet Union, the Ussuri and the Amur in Heilungkiang Province, were even stipulated in this way in the unequal treaties of the 19th century.

That was the time of the Czars. And we have already acknowledged that these treaties were concluded at a time when neither the Soviet nor the Chinese people had power in their hands.

President Nixon: So neither people had a representative. That was very generous.

Prime Minister Chou: And in Lenin’s time he had declared all in equal treaties between the Soviet Union and China should be abolished.

[Page 739]

President Nixon: Because the present government is totally different from then.

Prime Minister Chou: Yes. At that time the Chinese government was a war-lord government and was not able to solve this problem. But now China has been liberated, and as a socialist country should take the initiative to conclude new treaties.

Of course, China would not take the opportunity to exert new territorial claims, but would only ask for adjustments along the border. We would take the present status quo along the border as the basis, because we have been living in such a status quo for over a hundred years. But the Soviet Union did not take such an initiative. On the contrary, it very often made demonstrations and provocations along the borderline between the USSR and China on the Ussuri River and also on the borderline between Chinese Sinkiang and the Soviet Union.

Then it was we who took the initiative to hold border negotiations. They began in 1964. We suggested that we should hold such negotiations and they agreed, but when negotiations began they took out the old maps of the Czar. They wanted to settle according to these maps instead of according to the present situation. But in those times they had no idea where the border lay. The borderline was just drawn as the pencils in the hands of the Czar’s surveyors went along the border, sometimes on the right bank, sometimes in the middle, and sometimes on the other bank. In a similar fashion the railroad between Moscow and Leningrad—Petrograd—was just drawn by a stroke of a pencil. Also in the same fashion, Britain’s McMahon drew the so-called borderline between China and India. That still exists today. This was also the way European countries carved up Africa.

President Nixon: That’s why so many African countries are really not countries. It was a terrible error.

Prime Minister Chou: Yes, and many countries are divided. But even so, we still have a desire to settle problems through negotiations. We have settled our border question with Burma. Part of the McMahon line runs along the Sino–Burmese borderline. But General Ne Win14 was a farsighted man, and we solved the question between China and Burma. But U Nu refused to do so. He was very difficult and raised many petty matters. However, the boundary settlement of this Sino–Burmese boundary line was one of mutual accommodation, but actually the result was that Burma gained a bit more, which was reasonable. Since they are a smaller country than us we gave them the benefit of the doubt.

[Page 740]

Also we settled the border question between China and Nepal. We have a treaty with Sikkim, and a non-disputed borderline with Bhutan and later with Pakistan. Of course, this raised a problem with India, because they said the borderline included part of their territory. In settling the boundary between China and Nepal, we resolved that the highest peak in the world, Mount Everest or Chomolungma, should belong to both China and Nepal, and we each took half. The second highest mountain is on the border between China and Pakistan, K–2, and we also shared it.

We also have a very tiny border between China and Afghanistan, where the silk road ran, and we solved that question.

As for Mongolia, there is the problem that the People’s Republic of Mongolia used to be part of China, but since Chiang Kai-shek put his signature on the Yalta Agreement we could only take his legacy. But now he refuses to recognize his own signature. If I met with him I would have to ask him about that. But we were able also to define the border between China and the People’s Republic of Mongolia at a time when the People’s Republic of Mongolia took a rather reasonable approach.

We also have a border between China and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. There is a lake on it, T’ien Ch’ih, on the peak of a very high mountain. In the past the Manchus said the lake belonged to them, and the Koreans said it belonged to them. We finally solved the question by dividing and sharing the lake.

It is very easy to solve questions if both sides are reasonable. We have generally settled the borders between China and Vietnam/Laos, and although there are still questions in some places, it is mostly settled. There are only two big countries, the Soviet Union and India, which haven’t settled. They’re cooperating in this.

President Nixon: Do they want to create incidents?

Prime Minister Chou: They want to leave a pretext so that they can take the opportunity to make provocations against us when they need it.

The border negotiations which began between China and the Soviet Union in 1964 lasted only one year, and we could only leave the table. So the time passed until 1969, in March, when they created the Chen Pao Island incident (they call the island Damanstey). It is actually on our side of the central line, but they had border guards on that island. We also had border guards there. They tried to attack us, but the first assault was not successful, and they had losses. We also had some losses.

On the second assault they used tanks, for the river is frozen in March. They maneuvered their tanks behind our island, and then tried [Page 741]to cut the island off. But the tanks were rendered useless by our side and fell in the river, so they couldn’t go back. They used that as a pretext that we made the provocation against them. But their tanks were on our side of the river. How could they say that we made provocations against them?

A very interesting coincidence was that at the very same time the West German Presidential elections were being held in West Berlin. Because the Soviet Union had before that warned West Germany against holding elections in West Berlin, they (the Soviets) now took the Chen Pao Island incident as a pretext to tell East Germany it was not now possible for them to pay attention to that matter because they were occupied elsewhere. As a result the West German President was elected in West Berlin. They also used that incident as a pretext to shift the main body of their forces from Western border to the Far East.

But at that time Kosygin felt a bit uneasy. Before that we had a so- called hot line, between the Soviet Union and ourselves, but by that time it had already become cold because the Kremlin hadn’t called us. Their line existed, but they didn’t use it. At the time of the Chen Pao incident, Kosygin called us. He asked the operator to find Chairman Mao. (Prime Minister Chou laughs) Without orders, the operator, unauthorized, answered him, “You are a revisionist, therefore I will not connect you.” Then he (Kosygin) said, “If you will not try to reach the Chairman, will you please find the Prime Minister.” The telephone operator gave him the same unauthorized reply.

Afterwards, we learned about this. Of course, we criticized the telephone operator. That telephone operator shouldn’t have intruded in such matters without reporting them. Later on we found other means to communicate.

President Nixon: I imagine the telephone operator was like the heroine in the ballet last night. They took her pistol away and then gave it back to her. I think that happened to the telephone operator too. (Prime Minister Chou laughs) Both disobeyed for a good cause.

Prime Minister Chou: That’s right. So, the result was that at the funeral of Ho Chi Minh they told us through the Vietnamese that Kosygin would like to see us at the Peking Airport. We agreed to that and he came. That was on the 11th of September 1969. It was in the waiting room of the airport that you landed at that we talked for three hours. I also invited him to dinner. We reached agreement to relax tensions between our two countries. First and foremost was that the boundary question should be resolved.

By that time they had already increased the number of troops along the border in the six months that had passed between March and October. Of course, the number of Soviet troops along the Soviet border was not as great as at present.

[Page 742]

Dr. Kissinger: Actually less than one-half, because they have nearly doubled it.

Prime Minister Chou: We said that we were willing to enter into border negotiations, but we said there would be one condition—they could not ask us to enter into them under the threat of force. The principles I would put forward then were as follows: one, maintain the status quo at the border; two, to enter into negotiations free from the threat of force so as to avoid armed conflict;—there is a method about the third point—disengage troops immediately facing each other.

At that time we agreed to these principles. He (Kosygin) also said that we should write down those principles into a draft agreement and send it to him after he returned to the Soviet Union. The main idea then, the main idea of the agreement, could be summarized in those three points: one, maintain the status quo of the border; secondly, avoid armed clashes; and the third point, that both armed forces on the two sides should disengage.

At that time Mr. Kosygin considered those points reasonable. He asked me to give him a written draft of those principles, after we met.

The second thing we discussed was that the two sides should send back ambassadors, and as a result both countries now have ambassadors to each other.

The largest embassy in Peking is the Soviet Embassy. What I mean by large is that it has the most members on the staff. They have over 200 cars alone, so that they can go everywhere. They engage in activities all over the place. Of course, there are certain places they are not allowed to enter.

The third point was the restoration of trade, because they had disputed previous long-term trade agreements. They disrupted these long- term agreements when Khrushchev passed through China in 1964. We discussed that last night. The thought was that when we discussed the problem of polemics and principle, though, we said that this could go on for 10,000 years. At that time there was still trade. They wanted Chinese tinned pork, and we also needed their timber. This agreement was on a very equal, mutually beneficial basis, but they disrupted it the next year. They suddenly declared that the Chinese pork was bad, and didn’t want any more. They finally had to make up the imbalance in money and other trade. We don’t owe them—they owe us.

President Nixon: I wonder if the telephone operator was working in a pork packing plant. (Chinese laughter)

Prime Minister Chou: That might not have been the case. Maybe that operator knew about the suspended trade agreement.

After discussing these three points, Kosygin went back to the Soviet Union. On the 20th of October those boundary negotiations finally [Page 743]began between China and the Soviet Union. It was decided the negotiations would be held in Peking at the Ministerial level and the Vice Minister here headed our delegation. Mr. Ch’iao began these talks, and when the Vice Minister went to the United Nations we assigned another Vice Minister, Mr. Han Nien-lung. The Soviets had Mr. Kuznetsov, but it is said he is now ill in Moscow. (Note: Ilichev is now the Soviet negotiator.)

The negotiations have been going on from October 1969 up to the present date, a period of over two years and three months, but we still haven’t been able to reach agreement, even on the provisional agreement on the three principles. This is because whenever we approach them on one issue, they raise another. Perhaps you have also had the same experience. They draft something and insist that agreement be on the basis of their draft, but we will not agree. That is not equal. Why should we accept their draft? Edgar Snow’s article on his conversation with Chairman Mao mentioned that. “We are those who are not entirely in accord with the Soviet Union.” Perhaps Mr. Edgar Snow didn’t think it appropriate to appear in Life, and didn’t publish it.

Dr. Kissinger: He didn’t publish it. He was very discreet. He didn’t publish anything you didn’t authorize.

Prime Minister Chou: Of course, on the one hand we authorized and on the other hand he was discreet even when it was authorized.

President Nixon: He didn’t want to embarrass you. That’s very unusual for a journalist.

Dr. Kissinger: He didn’t tell us, for example, what Chairman Mao said about the President’s visit until after we met.

Prime Minister Chou: Yes, he was a very prudent man. Also an honest man. And therefore we commemorate him. He dared to come to visit us when it was difficult to do it. He dared to make public to the world our situation.

Therefore up to the present date the Sino–Soviet border negotiations are stagnated in the same place. So when they feel the necessity of relaxing tensions they come and have negotiations, and when they want to raise tensions they cease negotiations. Otherwise they try to bind us to their terms, which we have not agreed to. They always say that we have territorial claims. We have documents to show that we have no territorial claims. I believe Dr. Kissinger already has seen them; the Foreign Minister’s statements issued in 1969 on behalf of the Chinese government.

Dr. Kissinger: I don’t believe we have formally received a letter. I am unfamiliar with them. Last time, your Foreign Minister explained your position to me orally.

Prime Minister Chou: Those are all published documents. We have made our attitude very clear in them, that we want to settle the issue [Page 744]because otherwise it would always be a source of tension. Anyhow, it is very difficult to talk with them. They are really very frightened that the U.S. and China are coming closer. They always think we are trying to put them on the spot. But actually we met them and entered negotiations with them first before negotiating with you. We met with Kosygin at the airport, and although Mr. President was already in office, we met the Soviet Premier first. In my opinion, Kosygin already had an interest in solving some of the questions, but after he went back to the Soviet Union and had a Politburo meeting, and after the troika had discussed the question among themselves, the problem became more difficult. Mr. Brezhnev is stronger, and has more ambition. He is the one who is most emotional.

President Nixon: Do you know him?

Prime Minister Chou: Probably we have met, but I am not familiar with him. I don’t know Podgorny. As for Mr. Kosygin, from time to time he is able to talk reason, but he has a very technical mind, and he is not very farsighted.

Perhaps now because of their increasing nuclear strength Brezhnev has larger ambitions than Khrushchev. Because he thinks he had success in Czechoslovakia, he now has ambitions in the Balkans.

President Nixon: Yugoslavia?

Prime Minister Chou: Romania. First Romania, then Yugoslavia.

President Nixon: Maybe Yugoslavia after Tito. The Yugoslavs are afraid of that.

Prime Minister Chou: Because they (the Soviets) are already engaged in subversion in Yugoslavia.

President Nixon: In Yugoslavia?

Prime Minister Chou: Yes.

President Nixon: That is what we’ve heard.

Dr. Kissinger: Very actively.

Prime Minister Chou: We would like to wait for them to relax tensions. We have quite a large enough country and have a lot of work on our hands already. The land left over from our ancestors is very large, and there are large tracts of land not yet cultivated. The land on which we grow grain only accounts for one-ninth of the area of our country. The greatest potential we have is our land. We also have not used enough fertilizer on our land, and once there is more fertilizer we will be able to gain even greater potential. In accordance with advanced methods used by other countries around the world we will have great potential to grow more grains such as wheat and rice.

And also, because we are trying to build socialism, how can we expand abroad? Wouldn’t that be against our principles? It is our belief [Page 745]that ideology has no national boundary in the same way that religion has no borders. Newspapers of various countries are sold in other countries. News reports, books and magazines can flow across borders. But it is the people of a country who can control their own destinies.

It is through this concept that we have been able to formulate the five principles of peaceful co-existence. They (the Soviets) do not believe in those principles. Therefore these two ideologies (of ours) are diametrically opposed. Therefore, in this case not only is it difficult to maintain party relations, but it is also difficult to maintain state relations and diplomatic relations. But such things as diplomatic relations must be continued. But once they see more and more of your people going to China, they will be quite disturbed. But they have lots of people from your country and we say nothing about that.

President Nixon: Do they fear you for the future? Is that the problem? The border dispute has to be an excuse, not a reason. It can’t be that important to them.

Prime Minister Chou: Just because of that—they fear there will be a chain reaction. That is what they have told Japan. They said that if the four islands were returned to Japan, then there would be problems along the whole border, all the way to Finland, East to West. They have gained territory along their whole border; there is no country where this is not so. In the past we thought this was not the case with Afghanistan, but we found it was the case even with them. You know the border situation between the Soviet Union and Iran, Turkey, Romania, Czechoslovakia, Poland, and even Germany, East Prussia—. (Talking to Kissinger) You know about that. Konigsberg, a most beautiful city.

Dr. Kissinger: They took the northern half of East Prussia and Konigsberg, the biggest city in East Prussia, which they named Kalinograd.

Prime Minister Chou: They also took Karelia from Finland. We don’t want them to return all the territory they have taken from us, only a small readjustment, because there is no meaning to dispute in such a way over a border. But it won’t do if they don’t treat us equally and if they don’t abide by what they say. Something must be discussed about that.

President Nixon: Do they fear that you threaten their leadership of the so-called socialist camp?

Prime Minister Chou: We don’t even recognize them as belonging to the socialist camp.

President Nixon: That may worry them.

Prime Minister Chou: Of course.

President Nixon: Because the Russians don’t need territory.

Prime Minister Chou: The socialist camp no longer exists because there are many different ideas.

[Page 746]

The second point is that there should always be one head of that camp, and that all others should listen to that head.

President Nixon: How long have they felt that way in their relations with you? Since 1965? 1966? When did you see the conflict developing?

Prime Minister Chou: We began to come apart in 1956, at the time they had the 20th Party Congress. We came apart then because of ideology, and because it was unfair at that time to write off all of Stalin’s achievements at one stroke. Chairman Mao made the remark that 30 percent of what Stalin did was wrong but 70 percent was right. We don’t say that it was all right. Anyway we must recognize that he (Stalin) made contributions in the Second World War. Even our American friends recognize this.

President Nixon: The Russians fought very well. They had heavy losses.

Prime Minister Chou: Even leaders of Western countries, such as Winston Churchill, who differed in their ideologies from Stalin, recognized Stalin’s contributions the most. And if it had not been Stalin in command at that time, but Khrushchev…It was utter nonsense for him to claim that it was not Stalin, but he, Khrushchev, who led the battle.

President Nixon: Khrushchev?

Dr. Kissinger: They rewrote history and said that Khrushchev had led the battle into the Ukraine.

Prime Minister Chou: Therefore they’re constantly rewriting Party history. Now Brezhnev must stand out, but they can’t do that because it’s against history.

Although at that time we had ideological differences with the Soviet Union, we still wanted to find a way to unite in order to maintain our relations. In 1957 Chairman Mao went to Moscow, and supported the issuance of the Moscow Declaration although we had some reservations about the Declaration which we also put forth at that conference. But in 1960 they withdrew all their experts from China and tore up all their contracts.

President Nixon: All the technicians—all their technical assistance in 1960—yes, I remember.

Prime Minister Chou: They withdrew. But after that we still went to Moscow for another conference of 81 nations, which also issued a statement at that time.

President Nixon: It is interesting to note that when Khrushchev met with Eisenhower this had already happened, but our people did not know about it.

Dr. Kissinger: They met in 1959. Tensions had already developed, but not that technician thing.

[Page 747]

President Nixon: Your cooperation had stopped before Eisenhower had met Khrushchev but our people didn’t see the significance, what with other great events developing at the time. That is when that great meeting took place. The meeting President Eisenhower had with Khrushchev in 1959 was not a very comradely one. I think he was just warming up for when he got here. (Chou laughs)

Prime Minister Chou: In 1960 he quarreled with you in Paris, at the Elysee Palace.

President Nixon: He had a good reason, the U–2. We admit it was good reason.

Prime Minister Chou: It was a very good pretext.

President Nixon: I agree it may have been a pretext and not a reason. That was the analysis some of our experts made at that time— Khrushchev wanted the summit to blow.

Dr. Kissinger: I once asked a Swedish diplomat, who had served in Moscow, for his estimate of Khrushchev’s greatest quality. He said it was Khrushchev’s ability to extricate himself from difficulties he himself had created. In 1960, he started the Berlin crisis, and he didn’t know how to end it. The same thing in 1961 and 1962; he started a crisis every year and he didn’t know how to end them. He couldn’t go forward and he couldn’t go backward. Therefore I agree with you, Mr. President, he couldn’t have the meeting fail, without success.

Prime Minister Chou: It is possible, because we do not know very much about the issues and the situation at that meeting. I only know what he said publicly about the U–2 incident. And it was I who went to the Soviet Union in 1961 to take part in the 22nd Party Conference. At that time we had a semi-split.

President Nixon: 1961?

Prime Minister Chou: Yes. The Soviet Union itself unilaterally declared that they were going to expel Albania from the conference as not being a socialist country, and they wouldn’t let them attend. The ships they had sent to Albania were all called back, and all their exports were called back. This was an attempt to bully a small country.

President Nixon: It is ironic. Most people say Albania is more socialist than the Soviet Union. (PM

Prime Minister Chou: That is right. The result was that we couldn’t refrain from sympathizing with a small country, because it was in the right. We withdrew from the meeting and criticized them, but not very strongly.

Perhaps, Mr. President did not take note of these developments because he was not in office at that time. In July 1963, when you were not in office, the Partial Test Ban Treaty was signed.

[Page 748]

Dr. Kissinger: In 1962?

Prime Minister Chou: In 1963. At that very time they were, on the one hand, holding meetings with three countries about the partial test ban, and on the other hand, were holding meetings with other parties regarding the treaty. We knew beforehand that no good would come from this, because they were attempting to exert pressure on us at a time when we didn’t have nuclear weapons.

President Nixon: You had your first nuclear explosion in 1964?

Prime Minister Chou: Yes, and the day after Khrushchev fell from power.

Dr. Kissinger: Did you plan that?

Prime Minister Chou: No, it was not planned beforehand. It was a coincidence.

President Nixon: You can say that he went out with a big bang. (Chinese laughter)

Prime Minister Chou: He tried to use a meeting to exert pressure on us. Since that meeting there has been a split. We said that party relations were only suspended, and didn’t want to go to the extremity. But after the talks were suspended they immediately made public to the whole Soviet people and the other Communist parties that the Sino–Soviet party talks had ended in failure, and made public the whole proceedings of that meeting.

Miss Wang just now corrected me. The Soviet Union does not have 200 cars for the Embassy, but they can send cars out 200 times in one day. Two hundred times, that is the number their cars go out. Miss Wang is from Protocol, and it is not under her charge. It is under the charge of the place that takes care of cars.

In 1964 Khrushchev fell from power. Although we had already exploded a nuclear explosion, at that time we still placed some hope on the new leadership in the Soviet Union. So we went to Moscow to celebrate the anniversary of the October Revolution in 1964, and suggested to other parties that they also should go in an attempt to unite. But the result was it was impossible. The policies pursued by Brezhnev were the same as those of Khrushchev.

And in their cocktail parties they instructed people like Malinovsky15 to make provocations against us. This was something we could not accept. No matter how we talked with them, the talks were not successful. Since then I have also met them many times—since then, party relations have been severed. We could do nothing about it because we made every effort and were not successful.

[Page 749]

President Nixon: There is a point which I particularly want to make with the Prime Minister. In our relations with the Soviet Union, we do not want to do anything which would be against the interests of his country, China. For example, we do not want this meeting with Chairman Mao and the Prime Minister to become an embarrassment to China in its relations with the Soviet Union.

Prime Minister Chou: That won’t be the case.

President Nixon: Dr. Kissinger has told Mr. Dobrynin not to be concerned about this meeting, but Dobrynin doesn’t believe him.

Dr. Kissinger: They are a little bit hysterical on this subject.

Prime Minister Chou: If they have confidence in themselves, they would not be upset, because China doesn’t oppose them.

President Nixon: That was the point I was trying to get to in my question, and I am very glad to get the Prime Minister’s analysis of the problem. Certainly China is not a threat to the Soviet Union at this point because of the nuclear superiority of the Soviet Union over China. So what we think is that they are not so concerned about the border, which is a pretext, but about the leadership and doctrine of what they say is the socialist camp, which you don’t accept.

They also must be afraid of whether China could become powerful in the future, because the Soviet leaders in my experience tend to take a long view.

Certainly we will conduct ourselves with complete correctness in dealing with them and will make every effort to see that no pretext will be created by this meeting to indicate we are setting up a condominium against them.

Prime Minister Chou: Condominium?

President Nixon: Cabal. There are probably better Chinese words for this than we have. What concerns us about Soviet intentions was the recent experience of India, because certainly in the early stages of that conflict they were doing nothing to discourage India in its actions against Pakistan. It was only after we made a very strong stand—I personally intervened with Brezhnev, and Dr. Kissinger made a statement that was widely quoted in this respect—that they took a more reasonable attitude and a more moderate position in the United Nations, as you may recall.

I believe, in other words, the best policy towards the Soviets as far as the U.S. is concerned is one of firmness but not belligerency, and a willingness to negotiate. But we should make it very clear we would be willing to resist if incidents like Pakistan occur.

I think a fundamental fact which at present assures a possible period of peace without world conflict is that the Soviet Union certainly doesn’t want a conflict or confrontation with the U.S., and we don’t want it with them either. We both know it would be mutual suicide.

[Page 750]

Prime Minister Chou: Yes, a world war especially a nuclear one. They are also in a dilemma on this. A nuclear war would be detrimental not only to the two big countries but also to the people of the whole world. But on the other hand, they refuse to cease the arms race. But the more nuclear weapons, the more difficult it is to engage in a nuclear war. Nuclear weapons cannot be eaten, not worn as clothing, nor can they be used as utensils. They can’t raise the standard of living. The only thing they can do is lie there waiting to be used. Mr. President probably knows much better than I what a great waste they are. The people in the next century will blame us for this waste.

President Nixon: We completely share the Prime Minister’s view that we should attempt to work out an arms limitation agreement with the Soviet Union. I think our meeting in Moscow will be the acid test. It will not prove everything if we do make an agreement because it will be a limited agreement, but if it doesn’t work out it will have a great effect on the U.S. because we will have to increase the nuclear arms burden so as not to fall behind. We can’t fall behind, but we don’t want this.

I completely agree with the Prime Minister about waste. When there are so many hungry people in the world and poor people in the world it would be a disaster to spend so much money. On the other hand, if the Russian level is going up, we would have no choice.

Prime Minister Chou: Yes, you are in that position.

Dr. Kissinger: In this connection, it is interesting to point out to Mr. President and Mr. Prime Minister that we have not deployed land- based missiles for six years.

President Nixon: No new land-based missiles in six years and no new submarine-based missiles in four years. In all that time the Soviet Union has been building very heavily. They only agreed to talk to us about a limitation of arms and only began to show a willingness to discuss submarine weapons when we began to increase ours. So only when we started a new program were they willing to talk. So this is very curious, a paradoxical situation. When we stop unilaterally they raise their levels, and when we raise ours they talk about stopping.

Prime Minister Chou: I have taken note of certain incidents—I don’t know whether we are correct in this. We found that when your navy ships were moving toward the Indian Ocean they also very quickly sent nuclear subs down from Vladivostok to the Indian Ocean.

President Nixon: Your intelligence is very good.

Prime Minister Chou: Once they decide to take action they move very speedily. They even passed through the Suvarov Straits, which should be considered internal waters of Japan between Hokkaido and Honshu. This was the first time, and Japan was very tense.

[Page 751]

President Nixon: We didn’t know that, did we? It must have been known.

Prime Minister Chou: It was the first time the ships went into the Straits, and the Japanese were upset.

President Nixon: Mr. Prime Minister, I want to assure you that the arms race is not our choice. It was only with great reluctance that I approved the ABM, but it is either that or fall behind. And I felt it would be very dangerous for ourselves and for our allies, because we would be subjected to very great pressures.

I should point out that this is a limited agreement. It does not, for example, cover intermediate range missiles.

Dr. Kissinger: I informed the Vice Prime Minister this morning. …16

President Nixon: The information Dr. Kissinger gave you is totally reliable.

Dr. Kissinger: Right now there is a recess in the talks, and they will not resume until March 28. No matter what the press says, it is not reliable. When they resume, and there is any development, I will inform you through our regular channels. With the President’s approval, I will inform you of our position so that there will be reliable information.

Prime Minister Chou: Thank you for your information. You, of course, know that we do not want to have too much money spent on this. Since your two big countries have already had that experience, we don’t want to follow that. We have no wish to waste so much money. You are now on the peak of two very high piles, and it is very hard to come down. It is very unfortunate. We hope you will be able to succeed in your negotiations with the Soviet Union.

We must also say this has two sides. On the one hand, we hope you will succeed in your discussions, but on the other hand, that will not be easy.

President Nixon: I want to say, in bringing this afternoon session to a close, that I recall what the Prime Minister said about the battle in which the Chinese troops were on the top and the Indian troops suffered more casualties, and how Khrushchev misinterpreted this. I just want to say, in conclusion, that I don’t want the situation with evidence that they are on top of the peak and that we are way down below. (Chinese laughter.)

[Page 752]

Prime Minister Chou: I understand. But we still hope you will succeed.

President Nixon: I was going to say that I think we may, but the Prime Minister is absolutely right that these will be hard, tough negotiations.

Prime Minister Chou: I believe the SALT talks have lasted already more than two years, the same as the border negotiations. Our easy negotiations haven’t succeeded, nor have your difficult negotiations succeeded yet.

There is something else I would like to ask you, one other question. We have heard that Mr. Rogers told us—our Foreign Minister— that the Secretary of State would like to take part in the discussions about the communiqué. And our Foreign Minister replied, in the first day plenary meeting, that Mr. Prime Minister assigned Mr. Ch’iao Kissinger, and that was all that he had on the subject since there had been no further understanding.

President Nixon: I think there is a misunderstanding. Secretary Rogers may have some ideas which he can discuss with the Foreign Minister. I have delegated Dr. Kissinger to be our representative, as the Prime Minister has designated the Deputy Foreign Minister. That is the way we would like to have it done.

I would like to say in this connection that I have talked to Dr. Kissinger at length about the communiqué. And after these talks I feel much more strongly than ever that we should have a communiqué that rises above the usual nit-picking pettiness that usually characterizes a communiqué.

Naturally, there will be statements of disagreements made, but I hope that Dr. Kissinger and Mr. Ch’iao can give us language that is worthy of the occasion because this is a historical occasion on which we have the opportunity to say something of significance. I am glad they have to do that because I don’t want to do the work. (PM

Prime Minister Chou: So far, we have held two meetings, and I am thinking that tomorrow afternoon we should have another meeting in which on our side we can give you our overall assessment of the situation in which we link together all issues so that Mr. President can have a better understanding of us. It will not take a long time. As for the communiqué, I understand they have already agreed to meet. They should start working and will have to skip the Great Wall.

President Nixon: I think he (Dr. Kissinger) is too lazy and does not want to climb the Wall again.

Dr. Kissinger: I will have a stomach ache.

President Nixon: If he has a stomach ache, there will be a story in the press.

  1. 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 President’s Guest House.
  2. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, former Prime Minister of India.
  3. India’s China War (New York: Pantheon Books, 1970).
  4. See Document 176.
  5. This cable has not been identified.
  6. Jawaharlal Nehru, The Discovery of India (New York: The John Day Company, 1946).
  7. Senator Thomas J. McIntyre (D–New Hampshire).
  8. All ellipses are in the source text.
  9. Apparent reference to the joint statement after the meeting between President Nixon and Japanese Prime Minister Sato, November 21, 1969. See Public Papers: Nixon, 1969, pp. 953–957.
  10. Third Annual Report to the Congress on United States Foreign Policy, February 9, 1972. See ibid., 1972, pp. 194–346.
  11. General Ne Win, Burmese Prime Minister.
  12. Kissinger met with Yeh Chien-ying, Vice Chairman of the Military Commission, from 9:35 a.m. to 12:34 p.m. on February 23. The memorandum of conversation is in the National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 92, China, President’s Trip, February 1972, HAK Conversations. See footnote 2, Document202 for a complete list of Kissinger’s private meetings while in the PRC.