212. Conversation Among President Nixon, his Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger), and his Chief of Staff (Haldeman)1

[Not transcribed here is discussion of U.S–PRC talks in Paris and the situation in Cambodia.]

Nixon: I noticed in the Washington daily news summary, the editorial, they made it to be critical of the fact that there was no mention of the Taiwan Independence Movement [in the Shanghai Communiqué].2 Let me ask, is the Taiwan—that source is interesting because that’s a more conservative paper. But is the Taiwan Independence Movement, is violently opposed to Chiang Kai-shek; violently opposed by the Chinese; and violently opposed to the Japanese, isn’t it? Am I wrong? Or the Japanese—

Kissinger: Well the Japanese haven’t taken a position on it, but it’s—

Nixon: What in the hell is the Taiwanese Independence Movement all about?

Kissinger: It’s not a significant movement now. It’s violently opposed by both the Chinese Governments. Chiang Kai-shek had locked up the leader of the Taiwanese Independence Movement, and he’s now in this country as an exile.3

[Page 849]

Nixon: I know.

Kissinger: And we had major problems with Chiang Kai-shek when we let him in here.

Nixon: That’s right.

Kissinger: So—

Nixon: And with the Chinese in the PRC.

Kissinger: And with the PRC. But I noticed somebody must be feeding that because The New York Times, which never used to give a damn about Taiwan, had an editorial about that last week too.4

Nixon: On the independence movement…

Kissinger: Yeah.

Nixon: Do you think it’s out of State? Or could there be somebody pushing the Taiwan Independence Movement? That’s so goddamn—have you ever heard of the Taiwan Independence Movement?

Kissinger: No.

Haldeman: No. Not enough to matter.

Kissinger: I can’t speculate.

Nixon: But we haven’t, the other thing, I didn’t see anything in the State Department papers indicating that we ought to support the Taiwan Independence Movement.

Kissinger: Absolutely not.

Nixon: Did we?

Kissinger: No.

Nixon: There’s some kind of flap on it. Did Rogers raise that in his—

Kissinger: No. Well, they raised it at—

Nixon: At the end?

Kissinger: Well, they raised it at the end. At the end he raised it.

Nixon: He raised it at the end? What did he say—you ought to take note of this?

Kissinger: But he never raised it in the preparatory papers they gave us, never. At the end he did raise it among 500 other nit-picks.

Nixon: What 500?

Kissinger: Well, 18, 15. But in this catalog of nit-picks there was the Taiwan Independence Movement. But our formulation doesn’t even preclude, it states it has to be settled by the Chinese themselves. Naturally the Taiwanese are Chinese.

Nixon: Are Chinese.

Kissinger: If they want to secede, that’s their business.

Nixon: Well—

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Kissinger: Well, except—

Nixon: Our private understanding is that—

Kissinger: That we won’t encourage it.

Nixon: We won’t encourage it, that’s all.

Kissinger: We didn’t say we will oppose it either.

Nixon: We didn’t say we will discourage it either.

Kissinger: We didn’t say we’d oppose it. We said we will give it no support. And that’s been our position. We have never given it any support.

[Not transcribed is a brief discussion of the upcoming trip to the Soviet Union.]

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Tapes, Oval Office, Conversation No. 683–4. No classification marking. The editor transcribed the portion of the conversation printed here specifically for this volume.
  2. Possible reference to Milton Viorst, “Has Anyone Asked the Taiwanese?”, Washington Evening Star, March 11, 1972, p. A–5.
  3. Reference is to Peng Ming-min. See Documents 65, 91, and 178.
  4. “The Forgotten Taiwanese,” The New York Times, March 10, 1972, p. A–36.