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21. Memorandum of Conversation1

PARTICIPANTS

  • GRC Ambassador Chow Shu-kai
  • Dr. Kissinger
  • John H. Holdridge, Senior Staff Member

Dr. Kissinger told Ambassador Chow that President Nixon wanted him to pass along assurances to President Chiang that there had been no change in basic US policy toward Communist China. There may have been speculation to the effect that a change had occurred from the news reporting of President Nixon’s trip,2 but such was not the case. The purpose of President Nixon’s trip was to put the US in a position to work with maximum effect in Asia, to gain tactical flexibility with respect to Vietnam and put maximum pressure on Hanoi, and then take care of other problems. The US recognized that the outcome of the Vietnam war would determine the future US role in Asia. If we did badly, this role would diminish; if we did well our position would be enhanced. The President had said on every occasion that we would stand by our commitments.

In response to a question from Ambassador Chow on whether or not a dialogue had occurred in Romania on the subject of opening talks with Communist China, Dr. Kissinger stated that there had been no such dialogue.3 He reiterated that there had been no change in the US position regarding Peking and we were not talking with it anywhere. Ambassador Chow asked if we had noted any signs of shifts in attitude toward Peking on the part of the Philippines, Thailand and Japan and expressed particular concern about the Philippines. Dr. Kissinger [Page 54]said that we were not aware of any shifts, and mentioned that we had received the impression that the Filipinos were very much afraid of the Chinese Communists.

Turning to the Chinese representation issue in the UN, regarding which Ambassador Chow expressed some apprehensions, Dr. Kissinger declared that our position had not changed and that we would continue to support the GRC this year. We had also taken President Chiang’s advice on how to handle Outer Mongolia.4

Ambassador Chow referred to some of the difficulties which his government anticipated in a number of areas, and how a change in one country’s stand on Chinese representation (e.g. by Canada or Italy) might affect others in a sort of domino theory.5 Dr. Kissinger reassured him by saying once again that President Nixon had specifically asked that he be called in and told that we had not changed our basic policy. The President also wanted to express his high regard for President Chiang. Ambassador Chow thanked Dr. Kissinger for these words.

Dr. Kissinger then departed for another appointment, and Mr. Holdridge concluded the meeting by reporting to Ambassador Chow what had been said on the Vietnam question during the President’s trip: the US and GVN had been extremely forthcoming in demonstrating their sincerity in support of a peaceful settlement in Vietnam and the time had now come for the other side to respond, and that the US would stay in Vietnam until the South Vietnamese people were free to decide their own future without outside interference.

John H. Holdridge
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 519, Country Files, Far East, China, Vol. III. Secret. Drafted by Holdridge and approved by Kissinger on August 7 with instructions to “hold in W[hite] H[ouse].” (Memorandum from Holdridge to Kissinger, August 7; ibid.) The meeting was held in Kissinger’s office.
  2. Reference is to Nixon’s around-the-world trip, during which he held talks with the leaders of South Vietnam, the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, India, Pakistan, and Romania.
  3. See Document 20. Even prior to Nixon’s trip, this issue was raised in a July 17 meeting among Chin Hsiao-yi, Personal Secretary to Chiang Kai-shek, other ROC officials, Green, and Froebe: “Mr. Chin took note skeptically of rumors that President Nixon’s Romanian trip carried implications for U.S. relations with Communist China—that the U.S. wanted Romania as a go-between in improving contacts with Peking. Mr. Green replied that there was no truth to such speculation.” (Memorandum of conversation, July 17; National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 7 US/NIXON)
  4. See Documents 271 and 272.
  5. See Document 2.