223. Editorial Note

Senators Hugh Scott (R–Pennsylvania) and Mike Mansfield (D–Montana) visited the People’s Republic of China and held a series of meetings with top officials from April 19 through 22, 1972. Memoranda of conversation with Deputy Foreign Minister Chiao Kuan-hua, April 19 and 20, and Chou En-lai, April 20 and 22; reports from each Senator; and public statements made in Hong Kong are in National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Subject Files, Box [Page 891] 316, Congressional, May–June 1972, Vol. 5. See also Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume E–13, Documents 123126.

At the April 22 meeting, Scott and Mansfield focused on ending the war in Vietnam and obtaining the release of all United States prisoners of war. They also briefly raised Korea, exchanges between the United States and the People’s Republic of China, and Americans held in the PRC. According to an April 12 memorandum from Holdridge to Kissinger, Admiral Elmo Zumwalt intended to brief the Senators about Americans imprisoned in China prior to their trip. Holdridge noted: “I do not see any reason why Senators Scott and Mansfield should not be briefed about the American prisoners in China, although in my opinion this should be done in a low-key way so as not to give the Chinese the impression we are carrying on a high-pressure campaign against them.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 1036, Files for the President—China Material, China—general, April 1–June 22, 1972)

Chou En-lai revealed few specifics during these talks. For example, at the April 22 meeting, Chou raised the issue of Sino-Japanese relations and the dangers of a resurgent Japanese military. Near the end of their discussion, Mansfield asked Chou about the “timetable” for U.S. withdrawal from Taiwan, and added, “how do you expect to reclaim Taiwan?” Chou stated: “On this point I can only stand by our agreement that we should not discuss any issue we talked about—I can only say two sentences: (1) In any case, Taiwan will eventually return to the embrace of its motherland, and (2) in any case, the U.S. will finally withdraw all its troops from Taiwan.”

After reviewing the memoranda of conversation and reports from this trip, Winston Lord wrote to Henry Kissinger on May 12 that “There is nothing in these materials that is particularly sensitive or startling.” (Ibid., Box 1038, Mansfield/Scott Trip to China) Kissinger forwarded to the President the Senators’ memoranda of conversation with a July 3 covering memorandum, noting that “While these materials contain no great insights regarding our developing relationship with the PRC, they do indicate that the Senators did an effective job in building on the official dialogue which we have initiated with the Chinese over the past year.” (Ibid., Subject Files, Box 316, Congressional, May–June 1972, Vol. 5)

Mansfield and Scott’s trip to the PRC helped initiate a similar visit by members of the House of Representatives. In a February 29 memorandum to the Counsel to the President for Congressional Relations. Clark MacGregor, and Assistant to the President for Congressional Relations. William Timmons, Deputy Assistant to the President for Congressional Relations, Richard K. Cook, reported, “Shortly after this morning’s bi-partisan leadership meeting Jerry Ford called, expressing his and Speaker Albert’s deep anger over the announcement that Mike Mansfield and Hugh Scott would visit the PRC in the near future.” [Page 892] Cook then called Albert and summarized the Speaker’s points in a February 29 memorandum: 1) “The House has ‘carried the water’ for the President on foreign policy” and “should be treated on at least a coequal basis with the Senate.” 2) “The pre-eminence of the Senate in matters of foreign policy is an anachronism not consistent with recent legislative challenges to the Executive on foreign policy matters.” 3) Ford and Albert were not consulted prior to the announcement. 4) “Mansfield and Scott have not evidenced loyalty to the President on ‘gut’ votes and that the PRC deliberately chose to invite ‘friendly’ U.S. legislators.” After discussing the matter with Kissinger, Cook wrote that a visit by Ford and Hale Boggs (Albert said he could not go to the PRC) to China would be considered and that they would meet with Kissinger privately. (Ibid., Box 1036, Files for the President—China Material, China—general—Feb. 27–March 31, 1972) Boggs and Ford visisted the PRC June 26–July 4. Documentation is ibid., Box 1038, China—Boggs/Ford trip, June–July 1972, and ibid., Subject Files, Box 316, Congressional, July–August 1972, Vol. 6.