227. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon 1


  • My May 16 Meeting with the Chinese
[Page 900]

I met with Chinese Ambassador Huang Hua in New York for an hour in the evening, on May 16, to outline for his Government the prospects for the Moscow Summit. We also discussed the Indochina situation, in a somber but restrained fashion. The full transcript is at Tab 1,2 and highlights follow.

The Moscow Summit

Noting that we were not giving this information to any other government, I proceeded to outline for the Ambassador the major agreements and issues that we expected in Moscow:

  • —First, I handed a paper summarizing the various bilateral agreements we expect to sign in Moscow, such as SALT, space cooperation, environmental cooperation, etc. (Tab A)3
  • —Then, I verbally outlined the statement of principles on US–Soviet relations which we are in the process of drafting. (Talking points on these principles at Tab B.)4 I pointed out that in some respects these principles were similar to those in the Shanghai Communiqué and I added that we had inserted a couple of points which were designed to prevent implications for third countries and counter the Brezhnev Doctrine.
  • —In response to a Soviet suggestion for a bilateral nuclear nonaggression pact, I said that we would not agree to their formulation which could be interpreted as sanctifying nuclear weapons against third countries, and said that any agreement in this area would express a general attitude on nuclear weapons rather than specific obligations.
  • —I reaffirmed the enormous importance we placed in our relations with the PRC. We would sign no agreements knowingly that would be against their interests, were prepared to conclude any agreements with Peking that we did with Moscow, and welcomed their comments on negotiations that caused them concern.

Comment: The Ambassador, as usual, listened impassively to this presentation. I think that discussion, on top of all the previous briefings we have given them, should prepare the Chinese for the impressive set of agreements we will sign in Moscow.

[Page 901]


In addition to Europe, I cited Indochina as a logical agenda item for your talks with the Soviet leaders. I informed the Ambassador about the proposal from “various sources” (i.e., the Russians) that we resume the Paris plenary sessions. I said that we believed a private meeting was necessary first in order to determine whether there would be progress, and that we had proposed a secret meeting in Paris on May 21. There followed a brief, moderate exchange on Indochina along the following lines:

  • —Referring to press reports that day of Chou’s saying that we had strayed from the Shanghai Communiqué with our military actions, I reminded the Ambassador that we had warned the PRC a half-dozen times since your Peking trip about our intention to react strongly if Hanoi attempted to impose a military solution. In any event, we had kept, and would keep, all the promises we made, whether in the Shanghai Communiqué or informally.
  • —Ambassador Huang referred to the PRC public statements a few days ago as the authoritative Chinese position.5 He added that the Chinese would support the Vietnamese people against our aggression and for national salvation until the end.
  • —He then asked whether we had any more facts about the alleged damage done by US forces to Chinese merchant ships earlier this month.6 I told him that an investigation was underway but that preliminary reports indicated that US forces had inadvertently caused damage to Chinese ships while attacking North Vietnamese barges. I expressed regrets on your behalf and said that if they would give us an estimate of damage, we would look into the question of compensation. (We had already conveyed this position to the Chinese as soon as they published their protest so as to forestall any heightening of the rhetoric.)
  • —I then made a general pitch on Indochina along familiar lines, underlining that we did not represent the long-term threat in the region and that it served no country’s interests for Hanoi to attempt to solve the question by force.

Comment: The Ambassador, though he seemed somewhat more solemn than usual, was restrained on Indochina and seemed to go through the motions. This was still further evidence of moderate Chinese response to your military actions.

[Page 902]


Other topics included:

  • —I told the Ambassador that Senators Mansfield and Scott had come back with a positive report to you on their trip.
  • —I proposed that my June 21–25 trip to the PRC be announced June 13 and gave the Ambassador a suggested text (Tab C).7
  • —I informed him that I would probably be going to Japan in early June.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 849, President’s File—China Trip, China Exchanges. Top Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only. Sent for information. The memorandum is marked “not forwarded” and was not initialed by Kissinger.
  2. The 9-page memorandum of conversation is attached but not printed. Lord accompanied Kissinger to New York. See Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, vol. E–13, Document 129.
  3. Attached at Tab A but not printed is a paper detailing the three agreements mentioned by Kissinger and additional agreements concerning Health, Science and Technology, Maritime, Incidents at Sea, and a Joint Commercial Commission. See ibid.
  4. Attached at Tab B but not printed are the talking points listing the 12 principles. See ibid.
  5. See “Statement of the Government of the People’s Republic of China,” Peking Review, 20 (May 19, 1972), p. 6.
  6. The PRC publicly made its displeasure known with a statement on May 9. See Peking Review, 19 (May 12, 1972), p. 4.
  7. Tab C is attached but not printed. See Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, vol. E–13, Document 129. In a June 3 memorandum to Kissinger, Lord reported on his brief meeting with Huang in New York. The PRC representative suggested that Kissinger’s visit be changed to June 19–23 because “there is another important visit to China beginning June 24 which cannot be put off.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 849, President’s File—China Trip, China Exchanges) See Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, vol. E–13, Document 130. The White House announced the trip at 11 a.m. on June14. (News Conference #1468; National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Country Files, Far East, U.S. China Policy, 1969–1972)