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199. 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, Minstry of Foreign Affairs
  • Chi Chao-chu, Interpreter
  • T’ang Wen-sheng, Interpreter
  • Two Notetakers
[Page 762]

Prime Minister Chou: You took a rather tiring trip to the Great Wall this morning.

President Nixon: Nothing is tiring that is interesting.

Prime Minister Chou: How about Mrs. Nixon?

President Nixon: She loved it.

Prime Minister Chou: Was it cold?

President Nixon: No, it was a beautiful day. We didn’t need the big coats.

Prime Minister Chou: Dr. Kissinger didn’t go to the Wall today. Mr. Lord neither.

Dr. Kissinger: The Vice Minister was very difficult. (Prime Minister Chou laughs.)

President Nixon: I’m sure Dr. Kissinger was too.

Prime Minister Chou: That’s right.

Vice Minister Ch’iao: That’s fair.

President Nixon: On things of very great importance it is necessary to be frank. One must discuss matters good-humoredly but directly. It was very different with Mr. Khrushchev. He took his shoe off and hit the table. That was before the Vice Minister was there.

Prime Minister Chou: As I said yesterday to Mr. President, today I would like to say something about our general position and point of view. Because we plan to talk in the joint communiqué about the five principles of peaceful coexistence and that both sides are prepared to make efforts for realizing these principles in our relations. As Mr. President has said, neither side has any territorial designs on the other. Neither side wants to dominate the other nor impose its will. But, of course, to realize this a process is required. On our side there is less difficulty with that. But as for you, Mr. President, it is not only a matter of a political step by you, yourself, it is a matter of things left over from the previous administration. These are things you must clear up.

So, precisely, it is our hope that you will be able to continue in office. As I said yesterday, it is also our hope that Dr. Kissinger too will remain with you to help, Mr. President, in your work. Otherwise it won’t be so good to discuss something today and someone else takes office tomorrow. Then the question arises whether it can be effective or not.

President Nixon: That’s true.

Prime Minister Chou: In this sense, after publishing the joint communiqué, we consider it good for the leaders of the two parties to come [Page 763]to China and have further discussions on this matter and to further explore the communiqué frankly and in an aboveboard manner. Of course, we will say nothing about the private discussions. We would then hope that both parties in your country would support that approach and that attitude, since it is not a question of the President’s election, but for the benefit of the long-term interests of the two people.

And so those four points of principle that we would declare we will have in common, in the latter part of the communiqué, that is something we should work to put into effect. That is to say, to normalize relations between our two countries is not only in the interest of the two peoples but also in the interest of the peoples of the world. We are not xenophobes. And our attitude toward US-Soviet negotiations can bear testimony to that. They claim that our two sides are discussing how to oppose the Soviet Union, to conclude an anti-Soviet alliance. In Moscow they are making that proposition. So our attitude in this matter is very clear.

And then on the second principle which is common, both wish to reduce the danger of international military conflict. I have indicated our opinion that the US and Soviet Union reach an agreement on limiting nuclear armaments; wouldn’t that be good? If an agreement to that effect is not reached, that is their fault.

President Nixon: The Soviets?

Prime Minister Chou: Yes.

President Nixon: We are ready.

Prime Minister Chou: Yes.

The third principle is that neither of us should seek hegemony in the Asia-Pacific region. And that would imply not only our two countries should not seek hegemony in this region, but that Japan should not either.

President Nixon: And the Soviet Union.

Prime Minister Chou: That’s right. Nor the Soviet Union.

President Nixon: Nor India.

Prime Minister Chou: That’s right. Here it implies that both will try to do good things, not do bad things.

President Nixon: Let me clarify. It implies that neither of our two sides should seek hegemony. It also implies, to the extent that each of us can, that we will resist efforts of others to seek hegemony. Is that what it means?

Prime Minister Chou: Yes, that is we oppose any efforts by another country.

(Dr. Kissinger reads the sentence from the joint communiqué on hegemony.)

[Page 764]

Prime Minister Chou: And the fourth principle agreed upon is that neither is prepared to negotiate on behalf of third countries or enter into agreements or understandings directed at other states.

So, it’s very clear that what we are engaged in is bilateral negotiations, and we do not negotiate on behalf of any third countries. The matters of third countries are their matters.

So these four principles between us will be able to keep any misunderstanding from arising.

President Nixon: He has to explain to the press because most of the press don’t even know what “hegemony” is. (Prime Minister Chou laughs.)

Dr. Kissinger: But as I told the Vice Minister, the President has instructed me to work out a line either with the Vice Minister or you, if you agree.

President Nixon: What you want to say.

Dr. Kissinger: What we will say we will decide ahead of time and not go beyond it. I will tell you ahead of time exactly how I explain the communiqué subjects.

Prime Minister Chou: Since we are going to reach agreement, then we should see to it that the interpretations of the two sides should be identical or approximate to each other. We should not have misunderstandings arise over the communiqué. You face more trouble than we. You have to report to the Secretary of State. The Vice Minister, of course, reports to his Minister. The problem is easier for him to report to his Minister than for you to report to the Secretary of State. Because, as Mr. President is aware, we absolutely will not leak anything out of what is discussed.

Now, I will go on to some concrete issues.

First, the question of Taiwan. That memorandum that Secretary Rogers submitted to Mr. President is already known to the Japanese.2

Dr. Kissinger: I gave the Vice Minister yesterday a draft of the State language in order to show that we really had gone very far. It is possible that they showed it to them.

Prime Minister Chou: We learned of this last night. And I saw this news in bed early this morning, a dispatch from a German news agency from Tokyo that Foreign Minister Fukuda leaked it out. And the content that Fukuda revealed to the press was similar to what the Secretary of State gave you on Taiwan.

President Nixon: Taiwan, not Japan.

[Page 765]

Prime Minister Chou: Taiwan.

Dr. Kissinger: The only section I showed was the Taiwan section.

Prime Minister Chou: I told Mr. President yesterday the Secretary of State told my assistant Chi Peng-fei that he wants to take part in the discussions on the Taiwan portions, and that shows that this Taiwan question is the crucial question for you as well as for us.3 Because if in the communiqué the U.S. is not to point out all the direction in the future toward solution of the question, if this is not pointed out, it would not be possible to give an account to our people, or neighboring countries or other countries concerned with us.

And in the draft Dr. Kissinger handed over this afternoon, it was mentioned at the end that question about the withdrawal, the final withdrawal, and there is no question about the date for such withdrawal. But you had it linked up with certain conditions.

That, of course, is a matter for Dr. Kissinger and the Vice Foreign Minister to rack their brains as to what should be the proposed formulation. That is to say to have it so both sides understand some obligation but not make it so that people know exactly. It should not be so rigid.

President Nixon: That’s what we want. We have not found it yet.

Prime Minister Chou: At the same time you want a peaceful liberation. Dr. Kissinger mentioned in his private talks on the last day and in reply to Dr. Kissinger we said that we will strive for peaceful liberation. It is a matter for both sides. We want this. What will we do if they don’t want it? While your armed forces are there our armed forces will not engage in military confrontation with your armed forces. That I mentioned in the toast at the banquet. I also said that 15 years before. Therefore, our position in this matter is very clear. When the President first took office one of the first signs of the good will of your Administration was that the Seventh Fleet no longer patrolled the Taiwan Straits, but just passed by now and then. So both our sides had by implication envisaged how this Taiwan question would be solved.

I already told Mr. President yesterday that even after Taiwan is returned to the mainland, there is no necessity for us to engage in such construction on Taiwan as building nuclear bases. That is to say, we will not use Taiwan against Japan. Japan may feel at ease about that.

And so in this sense it is our hope, it would be good if the liberation of Taiwan could be realized in your next term of office. That, of course, is only a hope. Of course that’s our internal affair. We cannot express the hope that you should not interfere in this internal affair.

[Page 766]

You should not impose anything on us nor should we impose anything on Chiang Kai-shek. But also, Mr. President, you should be aware that there are not too many days left to Chiang Kai-shek.

President Nixon: Age?

Prime Minister Chou: Yes.

President Nixon: Yes.

Prime Minister Chou: But his idea is that there is only one China. So we appreciate this point of his. In 1958, then Secretary Dulles wanted Chiang Kai-shek to give up the islands of Quemoy and Matsu so as to completely sever Taiwan and the mainland and draw a line there. Chiang Kai-shek was not willing to do this. We also advised him not to withdraw from Quemoy and Matsu. We advised him not to withdraw by firing artillery shells at them—that is, on odd days we would shell them, and not shell them on even days, and on holidays we would not shell them. So they understood our intentions and didn’t withdraw. No other means or messages were required; just by this method of shelling they understood.

As Chairman Mao told you the other day, he has known Chiang Kai-shek since 1924, that is, he is an acquaintance of almost 50 years. So we have fought with him and cooperated with him at different times. So we are quite clear about both sides. Since it is your principle, Mr. President to have no territorial designs on China and approve of only one China, then we should make efforts to try to apply those principles while you are still in office. Because that would be beneficial to our two countries, while at the same time posing no threat. I should say very frankly that when Dr. Kissinger said that it would take ten years, that would be too long. This was at a briefing conference, you said that maybe it would take ten years, but that would be too long. It is better not to mention any date. I can’t wait ten years. You have ten years. You can wait for ten years. Mr. President may be reelected to a third term.

Dr. Kissinger: That’s against the Constitution.

Prime Minister Chou: After four years then you can run again because your age permits you to do that. But in view of the age of the present leaders of China, it is not possible. They’re too old.

President Nixon: Mr. Prime Minister, former presidents of the United States are like British Kings; they have great responsibility, but no power. I mean one who is out of office.

Prime Minister Chou: But your career is quite rare in history. You have been Vice President for two terms, then lost and then won an election again. It’s quite rare in history.

President Nixon: One can still have influence if one is out of office.

[Page 767]

Prime Minister Chou: As Chairman Mao said the other day, he will give you one vote.

President Nixon: That would be a big vote.

Prime Minister Chou: So we hope to solve this question in a friendly way, since already more than 20 years have passed. According to the solution to the question put forward by John Foster Dulles at the Warsaw Talks the time limit has already been passed. Dulles put forward the proposal through the American Ambassador that so long as China did not use force for a period of 10, 15 or 20 years he would be satisfied. If we had concluded such an agreement then the 15 years would have long passed by now. You can look at the archives in the State Department.

Dr. Kissinger: You have never been wrong on a factual matter yet.

Prime Minister Chou: I have grounds for what I am saying. But if we accepted such a principle, it would be equivalent to accepting interference in our internal affairs. So we cannot accept that.

In our present efforts at formulation it is shown that the two sides approach each other in views, but there is no question of interfering in internal affairs, and that would be good. We are not asking you to remove Chiang Kai-shek. We will take care of that ourselves.

President Nixon: Peacefully.

Prime Minister Chou: Yes, we have self-confidence. How would we do that if we didn’t have self-confidence? As we solve ourselves this question, your forces, of course, may leave and that would be quite natural.

So the Taiwan question is the crucial question between our two countries, and here I cannot but add that it was the result of a mistake by former President Truman. We needn’t put that in the communiqué. I want to say it here.

That is to say, it is indeed not an easy thing for two countries which have been hostile toward each other for so long to adopt such methods to solve problems. This was made possible only because we have the great spirit of Chairman Mao. He has the courage to write such things down and realize them in such a way. Because in the formulation of the Taiwan question we are going to work out, each side states its own position, but if one has profound understanding one can see that there is common ground between our two countries toward this question. But if one looks at it in a general or superficial way one may not see that common ground.

So on this question it is only the great spirit expressed by Chairman Mao that makes us dare to do so. Only because of the great trust placed in Chairman Mao by our 700 million people that we are able to put forward such a document.

[Page 768]

So Mr. President should realize that we do have our difficulties, but we have the courage to take on such difficulties, to overcome them.

So we must arrive at an agreement on this one matter. Once agreement is reached on that, all others can be solved easily. That is, the Taiwan question is the crucial question. I believe you will surely be able to find some formulation to at least approximate our view.

President Nixon: Does the Prime Minister want me to comment now or wait for the other issues?

Prime Minister Chou: Please.

President Nixon: As I said in my opening statements, we have first the problem of what I will do. And I have indicated already that my goal—the Prime Minister has already referred to it directly—my goal is normalization with the People’s Republic. I realize that solving the Taiwan problem is indispensable to achieving that goal. Now, the problem of direction, therefore, between the Prime Minister and myself, and Chairman Mao and myself, is decided. This direction is normalization. I started down this road in 1967 in an article in Foreign Affairs, with some rhetoric. And now we are trying to follow it with action. The goal of normalization is the one which I alone at the outset initiated and it’s my intent to realize this goal.

Now the problem of what we say about achieving that goal will directly affect whether I can achieve it. And if our communiqué, after our two experts work on it, is one that gives opponents a chance to seize upon the communiqué and say that the President of the United States came 16,000 miles in order to repudiate a commitment to the government on Taiwan, this could poison our relationship in the months ahead.

To give an example, when I ordered action with regard to the Seventh Fleet, there was opposition in our bureaucracy, but I did it. And as Vietnam is concluded, as it will be concluded one way or another, the removal of the two-thirds of our forces (on Taiwan) will be done. There will be opposition, but it will be done.

And I can also move to reduce our other forces, the remaining one- third, I can do that as our relationship develops.

One thing that is very important—and I know the Prime Minister with his understanding of our press and Congress will realize this—I must be able to go back to Washington and say that no secret deals have been made between the Prime Minister and myself on Taiwan. So what I must do is to have what we would call “running room” which the communiqué language I hope will provide, which will not make Taiwan a big issue in the next two or three months and next two, three, or four years. So I can do the things to move us toward achieving our goal.

[Page 769]

Prime Minister Chou: On this our Foreign Minister has similarities with the Secretary of State—he has his limitations. We were just discussing this a few minutes ago because I said we should leave some running room, and no time limit. That is, you have your difficulties, and we have our difficulties. On this point our Foreign Minister represents the feelings of the people. But it is possible for us to persuade our people because of the prestige of the leadership of Chairman Mao.

President Nixon: Chairman Mao takes the long view, as I do. I don’t mean 1,000 years, nor do I mean ten years on this issue. But I think the Prime Minister should have in mind, and Chairman Mao should have in mind, that I have stated my goal is normalization. If I should win the election, I have five years to achieve it. I cannot, for the reasons just mentioned, now make a secret deal and shake hands and say that within the second term it will be done. If I did that, I would be at the mercy of the press if they asked the question. I don’t want to say that.

Let me use a comparison with Japan. For example, I know the Prime Minister’s position is that we should withdraw our forces from Japan. I do not agree with that position, as shown in the communiqué, and I will not withdraw our forces from Japan, because I believe that our interest in peace in the Pacific is to restrain Japan. All the things that we have talked about require our forces staying.

With regard to Taiwan I do not believe a permanent American presence—whatever happens in our meetings—is necessary to American security. And for that reason my goal—we can now use this term in this meeting—my goal is the withdrawal of our remaining forces, not just two-thirds, but all forces, including the remaining one-third. That is a goal which I can achieve.

Now, if the Prime Minister could also understand how I may have to present that in order to sell it to our Congress. That is, it must be consistent with the doctrine—which I know the Prime Minister does not approve of—the so-called Nixon Doctrine. Under the Doctrine we are cutting our forces in Korea. Of course, Korea is a different case because in some ways it is tied to Japan and is different from Taiwan. I think how I do this, Mr. Prime Minister, is something I have to handle with my public opinion. Two-thirds will go, hopefully as soon as we can finish our Vietnam involvement. My plan also is one which reduces the one-third and withdraws it during the period I have the power to act. But I cannot do it before January of next year. It has to be over a period of four years.

Now if someone asks me when I return, do you have a deal with the Prime Minister that you are going to withdraw all American forces from Taiwan, I will say “no.” But I am telling the Prime Minister that it is my plan, and as step-by-step I withdraw I can develop [Page 770]the support that I will need to get the approval from our Congress for that action.

And I would put it on a basis for our public opinion—I think it would not be harmful to your public opinion either—that the presence of American forces on Taiwan is no longer needed.

Now I said to Chairman Mao that he didn’t know me and therefore he shouldn’t trust me. But I only said that because I feel it is important that we develop complete candor and recognize that neither of us would do anything unless we considered it was in our interests. And what I am saying to the Prime Minister is this: I am not asking him to trust me. This policy—I am not asking for a piece of paper on it—I have determined, looking at American self-interest, looking at the desire to have normalization with the People’s Republic, I have determined that we should proceed with the withdrawal of American forces according to the timetable I have just described.

I would simply close by saying that I can do this without question in my mind because I know the political situation very well, if I can do it gradually but inevitably. But if I were to announce it now, it would make it very difficult to do it, because it would raise the issue at the wrong time.

That is all.

Prime Minister Chou: Our request is not to have any time limit. We didn’t raise the question of a time limit. As for the question of one China, that is already mentioned in the five principles. I have attached importance to these points put forward by Mr. President.

Firstly, you hope for and will not hinder a peaceful liberation. Secondly, it was that you would discourage and not allow Japanese armed forces to come to Taiwan while your forces are still there. You will try to avoid in any event—but need forces in Japan to do that.

President Nixon: That’s right, while we still have forces in Japan. But you meant while our forces are still on Taiwan?

Prime Minister Chou: Yes, while your forces are still on Taiwan. You will discourage the Japanese from coming in while they are there?

President Nixon: I will go further. We will try to keep Japanese forces from coming into Taiwan after our forces leave.

Prime Minister Chou: That is to say, while you still have forces in Japan?

President Nixon: Precisely that. Unless we have forces in Japan, they won’t pay any attention to us.

Prime Minister Chou: And the third point you mentioned was that you would not support or allow a Taiwan Independence Movement, nor encourage it, either in the U.S. or Taiwan.

Dr. Kissinger: Encourage. “Allow” is beyond our capability.

[Page 771]

Prime Minister Chou: Discourage?

President Nixon: Discourage.

Prime Minister Chou: But you should say that you would not allow a Taiwan Independence Movement on Taiwan while American forces are still on Taiwan. That is important.

President Nixon: While they are still there.

Prime Minister Chou: Because you know even Chiang Kai-shek said that you let Peng Meng-min out.4

Dr. Kissinger: That is not true. I mention this simply because the Prime Minister and I have talked about it before. Mr. President, as you will recall from the transcripts I told the Prime Minister that no American personnel, directly or indirectly, nor any American agency, directly or indirectly, will give any encouragement or support in any way to the Taiwan Independence Movement. If he has information, give it to us through our channel, and we will take action to stop it.

President Nixon: I endorse that commitment at this meeting today.

Prime Minister Chou: I have received material to effect that Peng Meng-min was able to escape with help from the Americans. He was Dr. Kissinger’s student, like Mr. Reischauer.

President Nixon: Mr. Prime Minister, Chiang Kai-shek did not like it. You did not like it either. Neither did we like it. We had nothing to do with it.

Dr. Kissinger: To the best of my knowledge that professor was probably able to leave because of help from American anti Chiang Kai-shek left wing groups.

President Nixon: Chiang Kai-shek objected to us.

Dr. Kissinger: It was politically difficult for us to stop because we were not then in contact with each other. We tried to discourage it. If it happens again we can probably stop it. He had gone to Sweden. He was not on Taiwan. He was in Sweden, from which it was very hard not to let him come to America.

I also told the Prime Minister, Mr. President, that we would not support directly or indirectly as a government, or any other form, the Taiwan Independence Movement within the United States. And if he has any other information to the contrary we would try to stop it.5

President Nixon: And I endorse that commitment.

Dr. Kissinger: What we cannot do is to use our forces to suppress the movement on Taiwan if it develops without our support.

[Page 772]

Prime Minister Chou: That is true. Chiang Kai-shek will do that. That he has the strength to do.

President Nixon: That is what we have heard.

Prime Minister Chou: As to what kind of proper formulation to find on the Taiwan case, you two will work that out. Only after that is solved, can we very well agree to hold a plenary meeting to discuss the matter.

President Nixon: Absolutely.

Prime Minister Chou: After we solve the question.

President Nixon: This is a matter we should solve between ourselves and not put in a big meeting.

Prime Minister Chou: That is true.

President Nixon: We have to sell our people, Rogers and Green. That is our problem. That is Dr. Kissinger’s job. (Prime Minister Chou laughs.) But not in a plenary session.

Prime Minister Chou: I would like to discuss another matter. Of course, we are only having an exchange of views. The second question then is Indochina. As for Indochina, you know about the proposal of the Indochinese. We support this proposal.

President Nixon: The seven points.

Prime Minister Chou: We support the seven points of the Provisional Revolutionary Government, and also the two point elaboration, and also the Joint Declaration of the Summit Conference of the Indochinese Peoples. That is quite clear.

And if the war there continues, whether after the withdrawal of American forces or whether there are still some American forces left and the war goes on, we will continue our support, not only to Vietnam but to all three Indochinese countries. That is inevitable.

Thirdly, if the U.S. completely disinvolves itself and it becomes primarily a civil war, we would still support the sides which we are supporting, whether in Vietnam, Laos or Cambodia. That has been our position all along and we will not change it. Of course, we hope the war will stop. But your two sides have not yet found a way out, and we cannot meddle in this. We can only wait. And we have repeatedly made clear that we only have the duty to support them, not the duty to negotiate on their behalf. This has already been made clear in the four points.

But I would like to say something which was not put into the communiqué. Nor is it a view that we want to impose on you; it is only our view. And that is, Mr. President, for a leader like you, who is known for your farsightedness, it would not be beneficial for you or for the honor of the United States to leave behind a “tail,” although you are still determined to carry out the withdrawal of 500,000 troops. Because [Page 773]there are people in Saigon and Phnom Penh who are not reliable friends, in the end the people will cast them aside. The war there might be dragged out.

President Nixon: What does the Prime Minister mean by a “tail?” Does he mean American military forces?

Prime Minister Chou: Yes. The “tail” means American forces. You have already said that if there is no agreement with them, then the Air Force bombing and the Navy bombing will continue, and you will continue to help them with transportation.

President Nixon: I appreciate the Prime Minister’s frankness. He knows we have a difficult position, in the sense that the Prime Minister mentioned, that we came here with many saying that we were going to get help from the Prime Minister’s government in ending the Vietnam war. Of course, what the Prime Minister is telling us is that he cannot help us in Vietnam.

Prime Minister Chou: That is, your opponents are trying to make use of that as a campaign slogan, the Democratic Committee.

President Nixon: Obviously what will be said, even with a skillful communiqué, is what the People’s Republic of China wanted from us was movement on Taiwan and it got it; and what we wanted was help on Vietnam, and we got nothing.

Understand that I realize what the Prime Minister’s position is, but I do want him to know it does cause problems for us. I have never, as Dr. Kissinger can tell you, I have never given any encouragement to Congressional leaders before coming here on Vietnam. On the contrary, I said the Prime Minister’s government has a very difficult problem on this, and we would settle Vietnam in our own way.

Dr. Kissinger: You put that in your State of the World Report also. Prime Minister Chou: What is more, it is said in the four points of common ground (in the communiqué), that you would not represent any third parties in talks.

President Nixon: I want the Prime Minister to know that naturally we have to do what is necessary to defend our interests, to protect our forces and get back our prisoners. I realize that the Prime Minister’s government may have to react to what we do. We will do nothing that we do not consider necessary to accomplish our goal. And our goal is an eventual withdrawal after the return of our prisoners. But if we cannot get negotiations, it is not we, but the North Vietnamese who have forced us to continue to use military action.

But the settlement of Vietnam, Mr. Prime Minister, is inevitable because I have made a decision. But it must be done in the right way. It won’t be with us very much longer.

Interpreter: You mean withdrawal?

[Page 774]

President Nixon: Yes. Completion of American withdrawal.

But as I have said, I emphasize that it must be done in the right way. We are not going to engage in unilateral withdrawal without accomplishing the objectives of our policy there.

Prime Minister Chou: But that makes things rather complicated. Because your policy is not something started by your government, but by your predecessors. In the first place, there was no need to send American forces in. When you did send them in more and more were sent in, and you got yourself bogged down. And so your present government was compelled to want to bring about withdrawal, and you found this unfortunate problem on your hands.

As for the release of the prisoners of war, they are bound to be released. That is the natural thing. But there are also some exceptions, like India. They have captured so many prisoners of war from Pakistan and want to keep them for bargaining.

President Nixon: That is what North Vietnam is doing to us.

Prime Minister Chou: In talking about prisoners of war, I want to mention something. It happened while you were Vice President and you may not be clear about that. We exercised great control over ourselves. It is a good thing, after all that President Eisenhower brought an end to the war in Korea. But your prisoners of war and the prisoners of war of other countries on your side were all released by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. But as for our prisoners of war, quite a large number of them, Chiang Kai-shek sent people to work with them who engaged in all kinds of special activities in the prisoner of war camps in South Korea. The formal repatriation of prisoners was done under the supervision of an international commission with India as chairman. And there was a so-called screening process set up—a small cubicle—and they let prisoners come in one door, asked them if they wanted to go back to Taiwan and then let them out the other door. Under those circumstances, under armed threat to their person, it was not really possible for these prisoners to say what they wanted to say. Many of those prisoners were sent to Taiwan; some fled and then came back to the mainland.

We could have made a big issue, and say: “What right does Chiang Kai-shek have to meddle in this matter of repatriating prisoners?” Because both sides wanted to terminate the conflict, and we sent only volunteers there, we thought it was not good to insist that the war continue over the question of prisoners. The number of our prisoners who were coerced to go to Taiwan was not in thousands, but up to ten thousand or more. But we tolerated that.

So whenever there is war things cannot be the same. For us at that time although it was a matter of principle, as far as we were concerned we thought the best thing was to end the war. I just say that much. It is a matter of history, but something very much in our hearts. But when [Page 775]prisoners of ours went to Taiwan, it was still Chinese territory. Maybe some of them went into the Chiang Kai-shek army. Most of them now are quite old, and some have fled back to the mainland.

President Nixon: With regard to Vietnam, if I may just add one point. We understand the Prime Minister’s position. However, we would hope, while he cannot say he can interfere in this situation, that he would at least not do what the Soviets appear to be doing, that he would not encourage the North Vietnamese to refuse to negotiate.

The problem is the Soviet Union wants the U.S. to be tied down in Vietnam. It doesn’t want our involvement to end. It appears to be discouraging the North Vietnamese from negotiating. I do not ask the Prime Minister to respond, but if they are discouraged from negotiating by both the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic, this poses a problem.

Prime Minister Chou: When the Johnson Administration, at the beginning, announced the bombing halt in 1968, at that time we were not very much for the Paris negotiations. At that time we felt it was not very opportune, but after 1969 our position changed to supporting the negotiations. In fact, in order to help the Paris negotiations bear fruit, we stopped the Warsaw Talks. And then, it was only later because of what happened in a fashion show in the Yugoslav Embassy in Warsaw that these talks again started. And they told us something about what was going on in negotiations. From that time onwards we were for negotiations because in fighting there is also bound to be negotiations, such as in the Korean War.

Mr. Ch’iao Kuan-hua also took part in the Korean negotiations which went on for over two years. Finally an armistice agreement was achieved in 1953.

The channel of negotiations should not be closed. We can only go so far. We cannot meddle into their affairs.

I will tell you a story. That is with regard to Cambodia, as I see it. Prince Sihanouk is quite an intelligent man.

President Nixon: I knew him.

Prime Minister Chou: And a patriot. And I believe that he is quite different from Lon Nol or Sirik Matak or Son Ngoc Thanh.6 Of course, as they are in a state of war it is quite inevitable, natural for Prince Sihanouk to ally himself with leftist forces in Cambodia. But they have their own independent policies. Although some members of Prince Sihanouk’s government are in Peking we have never meddled in their affairs. He has already written over 30 messages and published these for his people. And we offer him free access to the People’s Daily for publishing.

[Page 776]

He writes his messages entirely according to his own thinking. His ideology is completely different from ours. Dr. Kissinger knows that and so will the President. On this point our freedom of speech is greater than any other country. He has now been in China almost two years. The articles that he has published in the People’s Daily could be compiled into thick books. The number of articles and statements issued by any of us could not exceed his. Why? Because he is a patriot. So we support him. He is neither a communist nor a socialist nor a Marxist, but a patriot.

So as we continue to have a mutual understanding with each other I like to tell you that this is our position.

President Nixon: We…7

Prime Minister Chou: You know, Senator Mansfield is a close friend of Sihanouk.

President Nixon: I met Sihanouk twice in 1953.

Prime Minister Chou: In Phnom Penh?

President Nixon: In Phnom Penh, and also when he came to Washington in early 1953. No one believes this, but it was not our policy that deposed him in Cambodia.

Prime Minister Chou: (Laughs) We had a dispute about that with Dr. Kissinger.

President Nixon: I think that if he had a closeness to China, this would not hurt Sihanouk, but his closeness to the North Vietnamese hurt him because the Cambodians hate the North Vietnamese. That is my analysis; I realize it is not the same as the Prime Minister’s. But I think that is what happened.

If the North Vietnamese would get out of Cambodia, then the Cambodians could determine whether they might want Sihanouk back. But as long as they are in Cambodia, I think there is very little chance of his returning to power. That’s just my view, but we have no way to control that event.

Prime Minister Chou: As our method of analysis differs, so we cannot come to the same conclusion. Because as we see it, the Johnson Administration sent American forces to suppress patriots in South Vietnam, and under these circumstances how can you refuse their compatriots in the north coming south to assist their brothers in the south?

President Nixon: I think I can understand this although I oppose it. I can understand North Vietnamese going into the south; it’s all Vietnam. But North Vietnam has no business going into Cambodia. The Cambodians always fought the North Vietnamese, all Vietnamese.

[Page 777]

There is no justification to their going into Cambodia. That’s my way of thinking. But I am afraid what we say here will not affect it.

Prime Minister Chou: It is a question of historical perspective, because the French colonialists linked together the three Indochina countries and linked their interests together. The very word “Indochina” was given by the French. Before there was no such name. There was no such name before. They are three separate countries in history. China’s relations with Vietnam were very close; second, we had ties with Cambodia by sea; there was not so much relations with Laos.

It was French colonialism which linked their interests. Then there was the question of redrawing boundary lines by the French, which enhanced the contradictions between the three countries, like the British in Africa.

President Nixon: The McMahon Line (Prime Minister Chou laughs).

Prime Minister Chou: And then after Japanese were defeated, the French returned and again occupied the three countries of Indochina, and that again linked the three peoples together to fight French colonialism. After the 1954 agreements, the three countries were again separated. Only then did we come to know the situation in the three countries; before we knew little about them, only Vietnam. President Ho Chi Minh was on very close terms with us.

And after the Geneva Conference, if the then American Government had not sabotaged the Geneva Agreements, the situation would have been different. Vietnam would have been unified. Cambodia probably would have remained under Prince Sihanouk. As for Laos, that situation is different, but would have been solved by the 1962 Geneva Accords on Laos.

But then during the Johnson Administration, Johnson sent so many forces into South Vietnam—if you look merely at the numbers, the physical strength, they exceed the South Vietnamese armed forces and also the North Vietnamese armed forces. These were circumstances that were well known throughout the world. Even the American people talked about them, as did the Chinese people.

And because of that, the Vietnamese forces made use of Cambodia as a place for troop movements and cover but we only came to know about that in 1969. The fact was that Prince Sihanouk sympathized with the Vietnamese troops and allowed them to pass through Cambodia because in the days of resistance against French colonialism they were together. So that sympathy expressed by Prince Sihanouk for North Vietnam should be understandable.

So if the war comes to an end, the Vietnamese forces will surely withdraw from Cambodia, and Cambodia will be Cambodian.

[Page 778]

President Nixon: The Prime Minister stated that the principle of the People’s Republic is not to intervene militarily with armed forces in neighboring states. Does the Prime Minister then oppose North Vietnamese domination of Cambodia and Laos by military forces? That is our position.

Prime Minister Chou: It is only because the war had already broken out, the war was given rise to by the U.S., that they are conducting their operations there.

President Nixon: When the war is over, does the Prime Minister believe that North Vietnam should get out of Cambodia and get out of Laos?

Prime Minister Chou: If the war is completely stopped, that is to say a reversion of Cambodia to Prince Sihanouk, then the North Vietnamese will surely withdraw. If there is still Lon Nol in Cambodia, that is not possible. Because even the majority of the Cambodians themselves do not support Lon Nol. He is someone imposed from the outside.

I still maintain on the Indochina question you made a mistake. Of course, that is not the responsibility of your government. Because at that time that region could have become a region of peace and neutrality, or at least two-thirds of the region could have become that. But because of John Foster Dulles’ policy of drawing lines here and there and sabotaging the Geneva Agreements, the whole thing turned into a mess. That was borne out by Anthony Eden in his memoirs. The agreements arrived at in Geneva explicitly stipulated a plebiscite after two years, but Dulles said that was just for domestic consumption.

So if we are to bring about an area of peace and neutrality, not only for the three countries of Indochina but for Southeast Asia as a whole and friendly to the area as a whole, I think the time is not too late to do that. Otherwise there will be no tranquility. I mean not just Indochina, but Southeast Asia—Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines. There is that tendency now in those countries. We should help them in that direction, to gain independence in that way.

But in that case, Mr. President, you might say that another power vacuum would be built up, and it would complicate the situation. Anyway, you know that we would not go in those places. You admit that. Our conviction is that if trouble arises the people will fill up the vacuum. In the first meeting I discussed that; but, of course, the timing may not be so quick. It depends on the political consciousness of the people in each country.

So indeed there is a possibility that in a particular country if the people have not yet risen up, a certain big power will go there and set up a sphere of influence. We have that in our communiqué (reading from the communiqué).

[Page 779]

President Nixon: We have a different view. As I told the Prime Minister we respect his views. Regarding Vietnam, the North Vietnamese have rejected our eight-point proposal. It is a good one which could bring about the very goal the Prime Minister is describing of a neutral Indochina, as far as the neutrality of Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam is concerned. I will say that this is our problem now, and I will solve it in the right way.

I am glad that the Prime Minister’s government will not try to discourage the North Vietnamese from negotiating. That is the best way to solve it rather than by solving it militarily.

Prime Minister Chou: Then here is a concrete question, just an isolated problem. They said they wanted to continue negotiations. You said no on the 17th of this month and then agreed to the 24th. The reason you refused was because of the Peoples’ Conference in Versailles.

Dr. Kissinger: We felt it was not appropriate for negotiations. They are meeting today.

President Nixon: Right. We will be very forthcoming in trying to negotiate, but we cannot be dictated to on this issue by North Vietnam. We are not trying to dictate to them. They are not trying to negotiate. They say here it is, take it or leave it and that we cannot accept. If they talk reasonably, as the Prime Minister and I are talking, though we disagree we could find common ground. This could have been settled two years ago when secret talks started, but they won’t talk that way. Right. Henry?

Prime Minister Chou: You have held 12 secret meetings?

Dr. Kissinger: Right, but once there were two meetings in one day so we counted them as one. (Chou laughs.)

Prime Minister Chou: Another question is Korea.

President Nixon: Korea?

Prime Minister Chou: Korea. We of course appreciate the gradual reduction of your forces in Korea.

President Nixon: We are down by one third already.

Prime Minister Chou: But if Japanese armed forces are allowed to invade South Korea that would create tension. Dr. Kissinger admitted that Japan had made some attempts, and they had already sent personnel. Of course, these are not in the form of troops, but some military men. We are watching closely such activity of theirs, and we believe you are, too.

President Nixon: That is one place that where neither the interest of the People’s Republic or the United States would be served by the Japanese intervention in Korea. We cannot guarantee we can keep out Japanese intervention, but to the extent we can do so, we will use our influence to discourage it.

[Page 780]

Prime Minister Chou: As for the question of Japan, I suppose you are aware that a state of war actually still exists between China and Japan because the so-called peace treaty with Chiang Kai-shek cannot count; even Chiang Kai-shek admits that. So they are bound to want to find a way out.

The present Sato government’s words do not count. The Sato government may say one thing one day, and on another day they say another. Even their own Diet no longer believes them.

So we are placing our hope on the next Japanese government, because if China and Japan are able to restore diplomatic relations, Chinese-Japanese friendship should not hurt the relations between Japan and the United States.

We even said that if we are able to establish diplomatic relations with Japan and conclude a peace treaty with Japan, then we will even consider a mutual non-aggression pact with Japan. They are worried about our nuclear armament, but we can guarantee that we will not be the first to use them. So we don’t pose any threat to them. But such a treaty would not exclude Japan from having relations with other countries.

At the present moment the Soviet Union is probably more strongly opposed to Japan’s having diplomatic relations with us than you. In Gromyko’s recent visit to Japan he openly told Fukuda, that is Gromyko told Fukuda, that within five years you will see a conflict between China and the Soviet Union that would be even bigger than that which occurred in the Chen Pao Island incident.

The second thing Gromyko told Fukuda is that the Soviet Union might consider the question of the four Northern Islands in the peace treaty but that those four islands cannot be returned now. Why? Because the Sino-Soviet boundary negotiations are going on, and if the Soviet Union returned them now it would be favorable to China versus the Soviet Union.

President Nixon: A chain reaction. They will never get them back. The Soviet Union has never returned anything to anybody.

Prime Minister Chou: They always regret the Czar’s selling Alaska. How much was it, $5 million?

Dr. Kissinger: $10 million.

President Nixon: It was the best purchase ever made. Now it has oil.

Prime Minister Chou: They didn’t know about that at that time.

President Nixon: There is a very big oil field there.

Prime Minister Chou: You received the Japanese Emperor there last year. And you are going back this time.…

President Nixon: We will stay overnight.

[Page 781]

Prime Minister Chou: It won’t be as warm as Guam or Hawaii.

President Nixon: There is no daytime; it is all night. Maybe two to three hours of sunlight. The “midnight sun,” they call it.

Prime Minister Chou: On this question of Japan, if either of our sides learns anything it would be good if they would inform the other side. Because we also hope that in the Pacific region it would be good if Japan were to become a peaceful, independent, and neutral country.

President Nixon: The important thing there is if we can do it in total confidence.

Prime Minister Chou: That is true. We shouldn’t let Japan think we are imposing on her, because we really are not doing so. In China’s history we have never invaded Japan although Japan did invade China, in the end we drove them out. Now we pose no threat to Japan.

Dr. Kissinger: I think, Mr. President, that one matter might be mentioned, given the tendency of the Japanese Government to speak to the press and the unreliability of the Japanese press. We should have an understanding that if we say something to one another, we should say it to each other directly and not indirectly through Japan. I had a bad experience with the Japanese political leader of the Democratic Socialist Party, Kosaka, to whom I gave an interim assessment on the Taiwan question, among other things. He treated it as if it were a formal pronouncement on Taiwan; but this was totally incorrect.

President Nixon: This should be in total confidence.

Prime Minister Chou: Japan is engaging in economic development and she should engage in economic development, but she develops too rapidly, and that excessive rapidity has something to do with your former policies on Japan. You didn’t pay enough attention to that. You helped Japan fatten herself, and now she is a very heavy burden on you.

President Nixon: It is interesting to note, however, that both the defeated countries in World War II, Germany and Japan, received U.S. aid. Also many other countries did, and I think if we analyze why Germany and Japan have done so well, it is because they have qualities of drive and are willing to work hard, whereas some other countries we have helped do not have this quality. This brings me to the point: it is not the help that is provided a country that counts, it is whether the people of that country have the will to use this help. If they don’t have that, the money just goes down a rathole.

A pretty good example is aid to India. (Prime Minister Chou laughs.) We don’t regret having given it, apart from the fact that the more aid we have given, the less influence we have. The point is that India is not able to do much with aid because as compared with Japan, it does not have the drive, or the spirit of determination that the Japanese people have.

[Page 782]

Prime Minister Chou: Well, the quality of people is something, but people throughout the world have common qualities. The most important thing is that both Japan and Germany were defeated powers who wanted to restore their vitality. You could also say Italy, but it lacks spirit. You could find that example.

President Nixon: Japan and Germany have great drive, and the Chinese people also. They have common qualities. But some people on the subcontinent, maybe because of the environment, never had these qualities. I would only respectfully advise the Prime Minister that if his government provides aid to India, don’t expect anything in return. (Chinese laughter.) Except a slap in the face. (Chinese laughter.) Dr. Kissinger was a great supporter of aid for India, but I have made a convert out of him now. Now you can speak for yourself.

Dr. Kissinger: The President meant the American Indians. (Prime Minister Chou laughs.)

Prime Minister Chou: As for the subcontinent, our first sympathy is with Pakistan for being dismembered. We should give her help. Mr. President said that he was only in the position to give her economic aid. I have noted that. As for recognizing Bangladesh, when a decision is made to recognize, please tell us beforehand. It has already been agreed that you would tell us you would do that.

As for us, our recognition of Bangladesh certainly will be later than yours, and we may be the last. But that does not mean we will refuse to have any contact whatsoever with an area with so huge a population. That is not in our interest. We don’t want to place Pakistan in a predicament, make her think that she has no friends. Also we must take account of the feeling of Islamic countries.

Even before the India–Pakistan conflict, we were contemplating returning our ambassador to India. We wanted to improve our relations with India. The Indian government expressed a desire for that, too. Madame Gandhi published this.

President Nixon: She told me that when I saw her in New Delhi and in Washington. But she also told me some other things, too. (Prime Minister Chou laughs.) She said she would not oppose my meetings with the Prime Minister and the Chinese government, just don’t harm her.

Prime Minister Chou: But …

President Nixon: But…

Prime Minister Chou: Don’t harm her—who wants to harm her?

Dr. Kissinger: Mr. President, we should point out again, with regard to recognizing Bangladesh, the decision you have made to gear our recognition to the withdrawal of Indian troops at the end of March. It is an issue on which the Prime Minister no doubt will read endless [Page 783]speculation of the American press because this is one issue on which the bureaucracy disagrees with us. They wanted us to move faster. Bangladesh has asked us for recognition, too.

President Nixon: They wanted us to move before the trip, and I refused.

Dr. Kissinger: So we will inform you when we do. Do not believe what you hear before then.

President Nixon: Only believe it when you hear it from us, from me. Don’t believe the press.

Prime Minister Chou: That’s right. I would like to ask another question. How do you envisage a solution the Middle East question? (Prime Minister Chou laughs.) France wanted us to take part in the Middle East question, and we refused to meddle because we are not involved there.

President Nixon: We are working on a possible interim settlement of the Suez problem alone, and trying to get talks going indirectly between the Israeli government and the government of the United Arab Republic. But I would have to say that I see no prospect of a settlement in the foreseeable future. It may be that one of the keys to a settlement in the Middle East will be the attitude of the Soviets on this.

I would like to be more precise, being perfectly honest with the Prime Minister. We will try to keep the ceasefire. We will try to get both sides engaged in talks and use our influence with the Israelis. But the parties are very far apart as far as a settlement is concerned. I would say that this problem is so complicated and difficult that maybe when the Deputy Foreign Minister goes to the UN he could bring some Chinese wisdom and that would solve the problem. (Prime Minister Chou laughs.)

Prime Minister Chou: That is not possible.

President Nixon: You have to work it out with Mr. Malik. (Prime Minister Chou laughs.)

Prime Minister Chou: Even Dr. Kissinger doesn’t want to discuss this problem because being Jewish he is afraid that they suspect him, so Dr. Kissinger does not want to talk about the Middle East question with me.

What do you think of the Soviet practice of on the one hand expressing support for the Arab states while on the other hand sending so many Jewish people to Israel. Wouldn’t that make things more complicated? I hear that up to 500,000 may go to Israel. Can’t they feed the people in their own country?

Dr. Kissinger: I don’t think, Mr. Prime Minister, that they are sending that many.

President Nixon: They want to go.

[Page 784]

Dr. Kissinger: Yes, they want to go. So far they are sending mostly old people, non-productive, who are a terrific drain on the State of Israel. They are not very productive.

President Nixon: It is not a rich country. There is no oil.

Dr. Kissinger: I must confess that the Soviet behavior is puzzling. I think it is much less than 500,000. I think 5 or 10,000 per year. I can get the exact figures. I’ll get the figures.

President Nixon: One reason we took a strong stand on the India-Pakistan matter was to discourage Soviet adventuristic policy in a place like the Middle East. India–Pakistan, that struggle was one really that involved stakes much higher than the future of Pakistan, and that was high enough. It involved the principle whether big nations supported by the Soviet Union would be allowed to dismember one of their small neighbors. Once that principle is allowed, the world would be unsafe. That is why the vote in the United Nations was 10–1 against it. It didn’t get much play though; you would think the UN hadn’t said anything about it.

Prime Minister Chou: Never before in UN history was there such an overwhelming majority. The vote was 104 to 11 and of those 11 actually they only represented two countries, the Soviet Union and India.

President Nixon: I think the Prime Minister would be interested in my view on the Middle East. The Soviet Union doesn’t see Israel itself as a problem. I know the attitude of the Prime Minister’s government towards Israel. The Soviet Union is playing for much bigger stakes. It is playing for a dominant role in the Mediterranean. It is playing for the gateway to Africa, as well as playing for total influence in the Middle East area. That’s what I think is involved, and Israel is only a pawn, a pretext as far as the Soviets are concerned.

And our concern, Mr. Prime Minister, in the Middle East, at least my concern—incidentally it is his (Dr. Kissinger’s) too, he says he is Jewish, but he is an American first—our concern is much bigger than Israel. We believe the Soviet Union is moving to reach its hands out in that area. It must be resisted. That is why we have taken a position in the Jordanian crisis, for example, a position warning the Soviets that if they move aggressively in that area, we will consider our own interests involved.

Prime Minister Chou: Time is already up. I will say two more words. We can have more talks tomorrow. In fact I have more than two words. Let us continue tomorrow, because Mrs. Nixon is coming. It is better to stop because Mrs. Nixon is coming right away. We can go on tomorrow.

President Nixon: Or 3 o’clock tonight. (Prime Minister Chou laughs.)

Dr. Kissinger: He will accept—he kept me working the whole night once.

[Page 785]

Prime Minister Chou: You can have night work with the Vice Minister after the duck dinner. Mr. President wants to see the former Imperial Palace tomorrow.

(As the parties left the table, there was discussion on future plenary and private sessions.)

  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 Great Hall of the People.
  2. Apparent reference to the memorandum summarized in Document 208.
  3. See Document 198.
  4. See Documents 65, 91, and 178.
  5. See Document 212.
  6. All ellipses are in the source text.