222. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • Winston Lord, NSC Staff
  • Huang Hua, PRC Ambassador to the United Nations
  • Shin Yen-hua, Interpreter

Dr. Kissinger: We had your ping-pong team in Washington today. We had a very good session with your ping-pong team.2

Ambassador Huang: This morning?

Dr. Kissinger: At noon. The President received them at the White House. I saw some old friends, from the Foreign Ministery. (There was then a brief exchange on some of the Chinese with the team, including Mr. Chien and Dr. Kissinger’s foreign office escort when he was in Peking.)

I already feel that they are old friends.

I have only a few items for you, Mr. Ambassador.

First, with respect to the note you handed us yesterday [sic],3 we are investigating it, but I can tell you now that if it happened, it was unintentional. We regret that it happened, and we shall take steps to reduce the possibility that it can happen again.

I must tell the Ambassador that I was at a dinner last night where they have two Chinese cooks. (Ambassador Huang laughs). It is embarrassing for other guests because I get very special treatment. They come in and shake my hand and talk to me.

Ambassador Huang: They certainly know you.

Dr. Kissinger: Through you.

Ambassador Huang: No.

Dr. Kissinger: I meant through our visits in China.

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The second thing I wanted you to know, for your information, is that we have learned that India has offered to Indonesia and Japan the same treaty commitment the Soviet Union has with India, and that they (India) have told Indonesia that they would be a bridge to the Soviet Union in this area. This is…4

Ambassador Huang: You mean that India will be the bridge between the Soviet Union and these countries?

Dr. Kissinger: India has offered exactly the same treaty, word for word, as the Indian–Soviet Union treaty. But this is simply for your information. We know that Japan has refused, and we think that Indonesia will refuse it.

Now, the major reason I wanted to see you was to tell you a rather delicate piece of information. You will remember, Mr. Ambassador, I told you, and before that I also told the Prime Minister, that the Soviet Government invited me on many occasions to come to Moscow to discuss the Summit, and I have always refused.

Now within recent days the Soviet Government has renewed this invitation and made it for a secret visit to review the summit and the entire international situation. In light of the rather complicated international situation, the President thought that I should go on a secret trip. And I shall therefore go within the next two days.5 (Ambassador Huang nods impassively.)

We wanted you to know. First, you are the only government being informed. We know that we can count on your discretion. We wanted you to know that all the principles we have discussed with the Prime Minister and other Chinese officials remain in full force as far as the President and I are concerned. (Ambassador Huang smokes a [Page 889]little faster on his cigarette.) We will under no circumstances engage in any collusion, direct, or indirect, against the People’s Republic (Ambassador Huang examines his napkin), or that could harm the interests of the People’s Republic.

And as a sign of good faith, we tell you this ahead of time. When I return I shall call you, and within a few days upon my return, if you are agreeable, I will tell you the major outlines of what was discussed as we have always done.6

Ambassador Huang: What time will you return?

Dr. Kissinger: When will I be back?

Ambassador Huang: Yes.

Dr. Kissinger: I will be back on Sunday night or Monday night. No later than Monday night.

Ambassador Huang: We can fix a time when you are back.

Dr. Kissinger: I would prefer that, because I may be very busy immediately upon my return. If there is something that is especially urgent and I cannot get away, I will ask Mr. Lord, who will accompany me, to come see you.

In no event will you be faced with an unexpected situation. And I repeat, the previous piece of information that I gave you and the whole evolution since my visit to Peking, leaves us under no illusions as to the real purpose of the people we are visiting.

I must repeat again that this is very delicate information. We have told none of our allies or any other country.

Those are the principal items I have. I have one technical one which is related to my pedantic nature.

Miss Shih: What was that?

Dr. Kissinger: Pedantic character. He (Ambassador Huang) understands very well. (Ambassador Huang smiles.)

With all these visits I have to make my schedule many months ahead of time. Simply for my guidance, the best time for me to come to Peking after the Moscow Summit, which was arranged when the President was there (Peking), would be around June 24 for three or four days. I wonder whether the Prime Minister could let you know if [Page 890]that is convenient. Our difficulty after July 1 is that there is the Democratic Convention. I don’t think I should be in Peking during the Democratic Convention.

Ambassador Huang: Three days or four days?

Dr. Kissinger: Three or four days. I am prepared to come for four days.

Ambassador Huang: June 24?

Dr. Kissinger: June 24 through June 28. I can do it anytime between the 21st through the 28th. I can’t leave much later than the 28th. If three days earlier is convenient, we can do it, say from the 21st through the 25th.

That is all I have, Mr. Ambassador.

Ambassador Huang: I remember that previously General Haig, and you also, mentioned a correspondent named Joseph Alsop would like to visit China.

Dr. Kissinger: Very much.

Ambassador Huang: We agree to his visit to China. We are going to inform him of that and will ask him to contact our Embassy in Canada to work out a specific time about the visa problem.

Dr. Kissinger: He is out of the country right now, but he will be back at the end of the week. That is very courteous of you.

Ambassador Huang: I have nothing else to say.

(There was then further discussion about Mr. Alsop, with Dr. Kissinger saying he was very demanding but also intelligent and well disposed to the People’s Republic of China. Light conversation included a brief discussion of the Chinese pandas that had just arrived in the United States. As the Ambassador was leaving, he wished Dr. Kissinger “a good journey,” and Dr. Kissinger replied that it would not be as good as his one to Peking.)

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 849, President’s File—China Trip, China Exchanges. Top Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only. No summary memorandum of this conversation has been found.
  2. Nixon met with the PRC table tennis team from 12:04 to 12:21 p.m. (Ibid., White House Central Files, President’s Daily Diary)
  3. Huang Hua gave Rodman a short note at 1 a.m. on April 18 protesting the incursion of a U.S. aircraft over Hainan Island. (Message attached to Rodman’s memorandum of conversation, April 18; ibid., NSC Files, Box 849, President’s File—China Trip, China Exchanges) See Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, vol. E–13, Document 122.
  4. Ellipses in the source text.
  5. In a conversation immediately following the meeting with the PRC table tennis team (see footnote 2 above), Kissinger and Nixon discussed Sino-American relations and Kissinger’s upcoming trip to New York. Kissinger affirmed: “I’m going to tell them [the Chinese] that they [the Soviets] invited me to go there [Moscow]. I had refused to go there just for the summit, but now they want to discuss the whole international situation.” Nixon and Kissinger agreed that the trip would be a “jolt” to the Chinese. Kissinger added: “It doesn’t hurt, we have to play it up with them as we’re playing it up with Moscow.” Nixon advised: “Be sure to say that the President has taken a very strong line with Moscow with regard to the China relationship, we will not let them discuss it in any way.” Kissinger repeated that the Moscow trip will “shake them up.” Nixon rejoined: “Good, so let them shake. They’ll shake even more when we announce the Russian summit, but that’s part of the deal.” Kissinger answered: “No, the Russian summit we gave them advance warning of. But it’s amazing that they’re not playing the game that the Russians played with them, they’re not needling the Russians about lack of support for Vietnam. They’re beginning to needle Hanoi, with ambiguous references that imply we told you so.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Tapes, Recording of conversation between Nixon and Kissinger, April 18, 1972, 12:21–1:46 p.m., Oval Office, Conversation No. 711–14) Haldeman was also present for this meeting. The editor transcribed the portion of the tape recording printed here specifically for this volume.
  6. On April 26 Haig traveled to New York to meet with Huang Hua. According to the memorandum of conversation, Kissinger could not attend because he was helping Nixon prepare for a speech. Haig relayed information on the Soviet-American summit, arms talks, Vietnam, and other issues. He emphasized that “Nothing was discussed or agreed upon in any way which could harm the interests of the People’s Republic of China.” (Ibid., NSC Files, Box 849, President’s File—China Trip, China Exchanges) See Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, vol. E–13, Document 127.