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225. Memorandum of Conversation1

PARTICIPANTS

  • Mr. James C.H. Shen, Ambassador of the Republic of China to the United States
  • Mr. Henry Chen, Political Counselor, Embassy of the Republic of China
  • Mr. Henry A. Kissinger, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • Mr. John A. Froebe, Jr., NSC Staff Member

SUBJECT

  • Review of Ambassador Shen’s Taipei Consultations

Ambassador Shen said that he had spent a useful ten days in Taipei on consultation during the latter half of March. He saw President Chiang twice and Vice President Yen twice, but had spent more time with Deputy Premier Chiang Ching-Kuo. Ambassador Shen said that President Chiang had asked him to reciprocate President Nixon’s greetings which the President on March 6 had asked Ambassador Shen to convey to President Chiang.2 Ambassador Shen said Deputy Premier Chiang had also asked that he convey his to Mr. Kissinger. Shen said that his time in Taipei had given him a good chance to observe the reaction there to events of recent months, and added that he had found people to be taking it well in stride.

Mr. Kissinger said that the U.S. had held to its promises and that the U.S. is moving ahead only at a slow pace in its efforts to improve relations with Peking.

U.S.–PRC Discussions in Paris

Ambassador Shen complained that he had been unable to learn from the Department of State anything as to the progress of U.S. discussions in Paris with the PRC. Mr. Kissinger replied that there have been no political discussions in Paris, only exploration of the development of exchanges of various sorts. Asked, Mr. Kissinger said that the U.S. Government definitely would keep the Republic of China informed of developments in the Paris channel.

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U.S. Military Assistance to the ROC

Ambassador Shen said that the Deputy Premier had asked him to stress two things to Mr. Kissinger upon his return to Washington. First, the GRC’s basic policy of opposition to Communism remains unchanged. It has had no contacts with the Soviet Union. Second, the GRC has not been in touch with the Chinese Communists and it does not intend to establish any contacts with Peking. Similarly, Peking has not so far attempted to contact Taipei, although GRC officials believe that the Chinese Communists may well try to establish such contacts in the future.

Mr. Kissinger asked Ambassador Shen to inform his Government that U.S. Government contacts with Peking are now on the technical level, dealing with the problems of developing exchange programs and handling the cases of individuals. He reiterated that the U.S. has had no discussions of substance with the PRC in Paris.

Ambassador Shen asked what reason Huang Chen had given for departing Paris for Peking. Mr. Kissinger, taking note of Huang Chen’s absence, said he understood that Huang would return before long, and added that in Huang’s absence our Embassy in Paris had been in touch with a First Secretary of the PRC Embassy.

Ambassador Shen said that he had not brought a shopping list back to Washington, but had been asked by Taipei to check on the status of several items of military assistance: the transfer of 200 M–48 tanks, MAP support of 100 F–5Es and 45 F–5Bs for conversion of fighters and for training purposes, Phase II co-production of UH–1H helicopters and of T–54 helicopter engines and waiver of the ten percent military assistance deposit requirement. Mr. Kissinger assured Ambassador Shen that the White House was not holding these items up, and asked Mr. Froebe to give him a report on this list by the following Monday.3

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Ambassador Shen also asked the prospects for the transfer of F–4 fighter aircraft. Mr. Kissinger suggested that we first take care of the list of items Ambassador Shen had just given him, and then turn to the question of F–4s. Ambassador Shen asked why the sensitivity over F–4s. Mr. Kissinger replied that Phantoms invariably raise sensitivities, and asked Ambassador Shen if his government had ever made a formal request for these aircraft. Ambassador Shen said that the Vice President had been asked about the transfer of F–4s when he was in Taipei in August 1970, and added that Congress had considered the matter in late 1969 and early 1970. Mr. Kissinger mentioned that Senator Gold- water had on occasion mentioned the matter of F–4s for the ROC, and added that he would check into the matter.

Current North Vietnamese Offensive

Asked about the current situation in Vietnam, Mr. Kissinger said the crux of the matter now involves the offensives of three to four North Vietnamese divisions. The question is how long these forces can maintain the momentum of their present drive. If the South Vietnamese can establish a defense around Hue, the North Vietnamese can probably be punished so badly that the steam can be taken out of their offensive. Ambassador Shen said that he had been encouraged by the President’s television statement on Vietnam last week, but asked if the North Vietnamese can still be stopped. Mr. Kissinger replied that they could.

Mr. Kissinger’s Japan Trip

Ambassador Shen asked Mr. Kissinger when he was departing for Japan. Mr. Kissinger said that the timing of the visit depends upon the Vietnam situation. Ambassador Shen asked if Mr. Kissinger would be able to visit other countries in East Asia after Japan. Mr. Kissinger replied that he planned to visit only Japan. Asked what the content of his discussions in Japan would include, Mr. Kissinger said that he would rule out economics, except in terms of general principles. When Ambassador Shen returned to the possibility of Mr. Kissinger’s including other countries in his trip, Mr. Kissinger thanked him for his thoughtfulness and noted that Korea had already been suggested. Asked if the Japan visit would come before the President’s Moscow trip, Mr. Kissinger said he hoped this would be the case, or, if not, certainly immediately thereafter. In response to Ambassador Shen’s question, Mr. Kissinger said he had visited Japan before—in 1962 when, he recalled, the ROC Ambassador had given him a dinner.

Ambassador Shen, noting that President Chiang would be inaugurated for his fifth term on May 20, asked if the United States Government planned to announce soon the fact that Ambassador Eisenhower would represent the President at that event. Mr. Froebe said that an announcement was planned for probably tomorrow.

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Prospects for U.S.–PRC Relations

Ambassador Shen asked if there was anything else the ROC could do to contribute to its relationship with the United States at this point. Mr. Kissinger said the two governments should stay in close touch, and again assured Ambassador Shen the U.S. was moving forward slowly in its efforts to improve relations with Peking. Ambassador Shen said that much of this problem would seem to depend on how far the U.S. has decided to move in its relationship with Peking. Mr. Kissinger replied that the U.S. had no intention of going much beyond where it is now, and, responding to Ambassador Shen’s question, affirmed this would hold true for the foreseeable future.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 523, Country Files, Far East, China, Vol. X. Secret; Sensitive. According to the attached May 10 covering memorandum from Froebe to Kissinger through Holdridge, Kissinger approved this memorandum of conversation and wanted no further distribution of it. The meeting was held in the White House from 3:20 to 3:35 p.m. (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 438 Miscellany, 1968–1976, Record of Schedule)
  2. See Document 207.
  3. Davis asked the Departments of State and Defense for “a coordinated status report” by May 9 (a Tuesday) on the military hardware raised by Shen. (Memorandum from Davis to Eliot and Pursley, May 4; National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, DEF 19–8 USCHINAT) On May 12 Eliot sent a 9-page status report to Kissinger. (Ibid.) Froebe reported to Kissinger on June 20 that Defense and State agreed on credits for helicopter co-production and that the 10 percent deposit requirement should not be wavied. State and Defense disagreed on transfer of 400 M–48 tanks, funding of fighter and training aircraft, and a T–53 helicopter engine assembly program. Froebe suggested that Kissinger ask Rogers to provide a “coordinated State–Defense memorandum giving their views on these items for the President’s consideration.” (Ibid., Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 523, Country Files, Far East, China, Vol. X) Kissinger wrote on the memorandum: “Can’t we [do this] informally without rubbing his [Rogers’] nose in it?” An undated covering note attached to the memorandum from Holdridge to Kennedy noted: “Dick: Looking at HAK’s comment, he seems to have missed the point. Far from any intention of rubbing it in, we only want to assert his policy primacy as regards to military assistance. Our concern, of course, is that Tarr may try to move in on this area, indicated here by the statement in State’s memorandum that ‘he will resolve the State/Defense differences’ on the three assistance items for the ROC.”