214. Backchannel Message From the Ambassador to France (Watson) to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1

639. To the White House Eyes Only for Dr. Kissinger. Had 65 minute meeting with Amb. Huang today.2 Spirit extremely open and friendly. Accompanying him, like the last time, was interpreter and First Secretary Tsao, who speaks English but very little French.3

In discussing ping-pong team,4 Huang was concerned about Carl MacIntyre, President of the organization called “US March for Victory,” and that he would invite a ping-pong team to the US from the “clique [Page 855] of Chiang Kai shek” during the visit of the table tennis delegation of China. The Chinese would like to call this to the attention of the Americans in this regard in hopes that America will take measures so that the bilateral exchanges between China and the US can take place without impediment. As far as concrete arrangements or details of the stay are concerned, the Chinese Association of Table Tennis will be told to have the Chinese delegation at the United Nations send somebody to contact the American association. Huang also hopes that the American Govt will be kind enough to cooperate along these lines and also take necessary security measures. If the American Govt has any propositions to make along these lines, Chinese will be glad to know of them.

I also received a paper, contents of which I will telegraph to Senators Mansfield and Scott, which reads of follows:


The Chinese People’s Institute of Foreign Affairs has the pleasure to invite you to come to China for a visit in the latter part of April. Mrs. Mansfield and Mrs. Scott as well as your assistants are also welcome.

Practical matters such as the specific date of the visit and the composition of your party may be arranged through the Chinese Embassy in France. With regards.”

In answer to this invitation, I told them that the Senators would like to come either 16th or 27th of April, so when date is firm on their part, we are ready when they notify us to follow through it.

I also raised other matters as requested by State in their telegram 46040. They are also very pleased with the musk oxen/panda flying arrangements, but Huang will get official confirmation from his govt.

I also handed to him the thank-you letters from the President and the Secretary.5

I am not replying to State Dept. cable of instructions until receiving your ok later today.6

Comment: Most important thing it seems to me in the conversation was that today was the first official forward-looking example of carrying out the agreements in the joint communiqué. He laid great stress on this point, to which of course I agreed. I also said that he could be assured that all kinds of necessary security measures will be taken during the visit of their ping-pong team. I also took up with him the [Page 856] matter of the press, as outlined in para 9 reftel, and he is absolutely in accord.7

Ambassador Huang during our meeting said that for routine matters he would like them conducted between his First Secretary Tsao Kuei-sheng and I restated I would use Allen Holmes, our Political Counselor (whom I trust completely). For the long pull I would appreciate your advice as to whether I should have a bright, Chinese-speaking officer.

At the close of the meeting I invited Huang to join Nancy and me at a small private dinner at the residence some time in April. He seemed delighted and accepted immediately. Date to be arranged.

Warm regards,

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 1038, Files for the President—China Material, China, Mansfield/Scott Trip to China [April–May 1972]. Secret. A shortened version of this message was sent through Department of State channels as telegram 5316 from Paris, March 20. (Ibid., RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL CHICOMUS) See also Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, vol. E–13, Document 115.
  2. On March 10 the White House announced that Watson would be the third-country contact point with the PRC. (Department of State Bulletin, April 3, 1972, p. 500) Watson returned to the United States and met with Kissinger on March 10. Talking points for Kissinger prepared by Lord, March 10, and handwritten notes from this meeting are in National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 1037, Files for the President—China Material, China, Paris Channel, March 10, 1972–April 1973. General Walters held his forty-fifth and final meeting with Huang on March 5. See Foreign Relations 1969–1976, vol. E–13, Document 116. President Nixon appointed Walters Deputy Director of Central Intelligence on March 2. He was confirmed by the Senate on April 10 and sworn in on May 2.
  3. At the first meeting on March 13, Watson and Huang briefly met at the PRC Embassy. Watson’s March 13 report to the Department of State in telegram 4739 reads in full: “For the Secretary from Ambassador Watson. Had first meeting at 1100 today, nothing of substance took place except for fact he wants to repay my call, which will take place Thursday at 1100 at our embassy.” (Ibid., RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL CHICOMUS) He gave a more detailed account in two March 13 backchannel messages to Kissinger, numbered 625 and 626. Watson and Huang agreed that they would handle “major” issues while subordinates could discuss routine matters. (Ibid., Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 1036, Files for the President—China Material, China—General—Feb. 27–March 31, 1972) See Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, vol. E–13, Documents 117 and 118.
  4. In a February 22 meeting among Rogers, Foreign Minister Chi P’eng-fei, and Secretary to Chou En-lai Hsiung Hsiang-hui, the Chinese complained that the PRC was prepared to reciprocate the U.S. team’s visit of April 1971, but that they discovered in August that an ROC team was touring America. (Memorandum of conversation, February 28; National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 7 US/NIXON) The Department of State’s instructions to Watson for the March 20 meeting, approved by Haig, reads in part: “It is particularly important that early on you emphasize importance we attach to principle of reciprocity in exchanges” and suggested inviting the PRC team for a visit in either April or June. (Telegram 46040 to Paris, March 17; ibid., POL CHICOMUS) The PRC team visited April 12–24 and visited the White House on April 18. (Department of State Bulletin, May 15, 1972, p. 698)
  5. Telegram 46040 to Paris, March 17, indicated that these letters, as well as a letter from Mansfield and Scott, were being sent via pouch to Paris. Copies of Nixon’s March 14 letters to Chou and Mao are in Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box CL 114, Geopolitical Files, China, Nixon, Richard M., Letters to Mao and Chou.
  6. Apparent reference to telegram 46040, March 17.
  7. Paragraph 9 of telegram 46040 reads in part: “In contacts with press, you should not discourage speculation that talks are substantive. You should make it clear, however, that content of discussion will not be revealed.”