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.
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…
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?
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?
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—[Page 850]
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.]
- 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.↩
- Possible reference to Milton Viorst, “Has Anyone Asked the Taiwanese?”, Washington Evening Star, March 11, 1972, p. A–5.↩
- Reference is to Peng Ming-min. See Documents 65, 91, and 178.↩
- “The Forgotten Taiwanese,” The New York Times, March 10, 1972, p. A–36.↩