247. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Ambassador Shen
  • Henry A. Kissinger
  • R. P. Campbell(Notetaker)

Ambassador Shen: I understand that you have very little time so I will be brief. What happened in Tokyo?2

Dr. Kissinger: Not much happened. They talked about the arrangements for the President’s trip. They were not eager to tell me what they are going to do.

[Page 1049]

Ambassador Shen: Did you talk about us?

Dr. Kissinger: Obviously, they are going to sever relationships with you but it is not yet clear whether they are going to modify the security treaty.3

Ambassador Shen: With you?

Dr. Kissinger: Yes, they would risk their whole relationship with us if they do it. We told them we would stand by what we told them last year.

Ambassador Shen: Did they want to change the security treaty?

Dr. Kissinger: They wanted to set up a confrontation with us. I won’t give them the satisfaction. The talks will continue between the President and Tanaka.

Ambassador Shen: Will the President talk again on the matter?

Dr. Kissinger: Yes, absolutely.

Ambassador Shen: Even within the ruling party itself there is some controversy over whether to sever relations with them.

Dr. Kissinger: In June, they said that they would not sever relations without our approval but it is obvious they are going ahead.

Ambassador Shen: They are going to sever relations anyway?

Dr. Kissinger: Yes.

Ambassador Shen: You can do nothing?

Dr. Kissinger: No, but they want to keep commercial ties open.

Ambassador Shen: Yes, they want to have their cake and eat it too. The balance of trade has always been in their favor.

Dr. Kissinger: I wouldn’t break off trade relations. You will have done everything if you do.

Ambassador Shen: What was the atmosphere?

[Page 1050]

Dr. Kissinger: I think we are partly responsible because of last year.

Ambassador Shen: Recently a representative of our state traveled to Southeast Asia and found that it would be the beginning of an un raveling of relations if they break relations with us.

Dr. Kissinger: It is not unreasonable.

Ambassador Shen: Is there anything you can do?

Dr. Kissinger: I talked with Tanaka. You know the Japanese, they do everything in extremes. We can’t stop them from recognizing the PRC, but maybe we can stop them from turning against you.

Ambassador Shen: Is there anything Asian countries can do?

Dr. Kissinger: I’ll have to check that. Those countries your Minister has visited we would be in favor of. I told the Vietnamese “don’t give up old friends.” They can’t afford to do that. I’ve not talked to Thailand, Cambodia, the Philippines or Korea.

[Ambassador Shen called after the meeting asking that Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia be added to the list of countries to be contacted.]4

Ambassador Shen: It will be a serious thing for us and a very emotional issue for us.

Dr. Kissinger: This has been one of the most brutal things I have seen. I understand the political maneuvering. In the next five years Mao and Chou will die. We must be prepared to carry on at that time.

Ambassador Shen: How much of this is out of spite to show their independence from your government?

Dr. Kissinger: Frankly, very little.

Ambassador Shen: The President will talk more on this?

Dr. Kissinger: Yes.

Ambassador Shen: Will it stop them?

Dr. Kissinger: I doubt it.

Ambassador Shen: Two weeks ago I was instructed to see the President. You were away and I found that it did not get to the President until just last week.5

Dr. Kissinger: The President was at Camp David and was not seeing anyone, not even Cabinet members.

[Page 1051]

Ambassador Shen: What do I tell my government?

Dr. Kissinger: It was not a reflexion on your government. He was not using anger. He never sees Ambassadors. In fact, he sees you far more than any other.

Ambassador Shen: Yes, I know.

Dr. Kissinger: He will see you the week of Labor Day after his return.6

Ambassador Shen: You would advise continuing trade relations?

Dr. Kissinger: I would be tough now. I think the Japanese would like to get in on domestic Taipei economics. I would not ruin that thought.

Ambassador Shen: You advise us to be as tough as we can?

Dr. Kissinger: Before they announce.

Ambassador Shen: Why?

Dr. Kissinger: You want to be in the best bargaining position at the announcement. Until then, I would be tough.

Ambassador Shen: This will be tough.

Dr. Kissinger: You have been Ambassador here for some time and it is a tragedy that you have been so mistreated.

Ambassador Shen: Some of our friends have said that we should become an independent state.

Dr. Kissinger: I don’t think you should do that. After the election, things will change. That would cause a massive problem here. I would wait. The PRC may change their position. There may be a Sino–Soviet war. I’m just talking history now. This is just between you and me.

Ambassador Shen: We are always quiet. We have never leaked anything. Even when things are the roughest, we are quiet.

Dr. Kissinger: You have always been reliable.

Ambassador Shen: Even when DeGaulle was here, we never exchanged harsh words with them.

Dr. Kissinger: Mr. Ambassador, we will do what we can in Hawaii.

Ambassador Shen: Whatever the joint communiqué says, please make it not seem that Japan is proceeding with your full endorsement.

Dr. Kissinger: We will.

Ambassador Shen: Can you see that Taiwan is kept informed of progress.

[Page 1052]

Dr. Kissinger: Yes. I will that it is done.

[Meeting broke up. At the door:]

Ambassador Shen: Any movement in Paris?

Dr. Kissinger: Nothing significant. I really don’t want to talk about it.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 523, Country Files, Far East, China, Vol. XI. Top Secret; Sensitive. Drafted on August 30.
  2. Documentation on Kissinger’s conversations in Japan is scheduled for publication in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XIX.
  3. ROC leaders had also expressed opposition to Japan’s possible recognition of the PRC through Ray Cline, former CIA Station Chief in Taipei and Director of INR since 1969. On August 9 Cline forwarded to Holdridge an August 1 letter from Chiang Ching-Kuo detailing concerns over Japanese policy. Holdridge then summarized the letter for Kissinger on August 11, noting the ROC’s fears that “Japanese recognition of the PRC would set off a chain reaction in which other Asian nations would follow suit. This would result in an acceleration of PRC infiltration and subversion in Asia. The basic consequence would be to destabilize the situation in Asia—precisely the opposite of what Tokyo is claiming its move would have. The ROC’s more basic concern, of course, is that Tokyo’s recognition of Peking could lead not only to a quickening of Taipei’s diplomatic isolation, but also to a contraction of its economic ties to Asia as well.” Chiang’s letter and Holdridge’s memorandum are in the National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 523, Country Files, Far East, China, Vol. XI. Chiang Ching-Kuo sent an August 7 letter to Nixon, reiterating these concerns. (Ibid.)
  4. All brackets are in the source text.
  5. In an August 11 memorandum to Kissinger, Holdridge noted that Shen had requested a meeting with the President. Holdridge concluded that “I believe that it is important for the President to receive Shen in order to reassure his Government that we understand their concerns on this score.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 523, Country Files, Far East, China, Vol. XI) Shen did not meet with the President.
  6. In an August 31 memorandum to Kissinger, Froebe wrote: “I understand that during your meeting with Ambassador James Shen August 23 [sic] you told him that a call on the President for him might be arranged for sometime in the week of September 4–8 after Labor Day. At Tab A is a draft memorandum from you to the President recommending a call on him by Shen during that week.” Kissinger wrote at the bottom of the memorandum: “Nonsense—I said no such thing.” (Ibid.)