[Page 1071]

253. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Huang Hua, PRC Ambassador to the UN
  • Mrs. Shih Yen-hua, Interpreter
  • Notetaker
  • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger
  • Peter W. Rodman, NSC

Dr. Kissinger: I thought, as I indicated to you, I would give you a brief summary of my trip to your ally.

Ambassador Huang: Ally!

Dr. Kissinger: First, you have seen the communiqué, I’m sure. It was printed in the New York Times. You must have read it. But I have a copy here for you. [Tab A]2

Ambassador Huang: I have read it.

Dr. Kissinger: Let me talk about the major item first, that is not in the communiqué. First, on that nuclear treaty we have been discussing, I handed over a paper which listed all our objections—of which this is a copy. [Hands over paper at Tab B.]3 It says we will do nothing that creates a condominium. We will do nothing that creates a right to attack others with nuclear weapons. We will do nothing to legitimize [Page 1072]conventional war. And we will do nothing to undermine existing security arrangements.

They had given me answers to some questions, which I gave you last time. This lead to a very passionate discussion on their part. And at the end, on my last day there, Gromyko told me they would submit to the UN a proposal in this field, and that they hoped we would not join you in opposing it. We said we didn’t know your position, and didn’t know what you would do, but we would almost certainly oppose it. And we would not agree at the UN to something we wouldn’t agree to bilaterally. But we only received the formal proposal yesterday, as you did.

I don’t know what position you will take, but we will not support it. That is where we stand on this nuclear discussion with the Soviet Union. As far as we are concerned, we will take no further steps.

On a European Security Conference and mutual balanced force reductions: As you know, we had taken the position that a European Security Conference should not take place in isolation from mutual balanced force reductions. We took this position because we did not want to take the position that tension in Europe could be dealt with by mere abstract discussion, and because we thought focusing attention on actual Soviet forces in Europe would bring home to our allies the extent of their danger.

The Soviet leaders then handed me a note in which they made a concrete proposal:

  • —that a preparatory conference for a European Security Conference begin in Helsinki November 22 and that the Conference itself begin work in Helsinki in late June 1973.
  • —that a preparatory conference on Mutual Force Reduction should begin in late January 1973 and that the Conference itself should start in September or October 1973.

We are now discussing that with our allies. We are disposed to accept it, because it has the practical consequence that there will be discussions on force reductions not before September 1973 and therefore it will keep our Congress from making unilateral reductions throughout 1973. And we don’t anticipate that the Conference will have results in less than one or two years.

And in any event, as I told the Prime Minister and as I told you last time, the maximum we are considering is 10 or 15%.

[At this point Dr. Kissinger asked that additional cups be provided so that tea could be served. Mr. Rodman brought the cups and hors d’oeuvres, and Dr. Kissinger poured.]

We also had some discussions on strategic arms limitations, and we agreed tentatively that this conference starts on November 15. That date will not be announced until about October 15. So don’t tell it to [Page 1073]the Japanese before then. [The Ambassador chuckled.] Because they always talk to the press; you don’t.

The first phase of the conference will discuss general principles, and no precise proposals. The general problem we will discuss—which we have not yet decided in our own government—is whether to concentrate on numerical limits or whether to include limits on technological improvements. But frankly, we did not think they were very well prepared.

And as our own thinking progresses, we will keep you informed on how our attitude develops. We have not yet decided whether to concentrate on numerical limits or whether to include qualitative limitations.

On trade, we settled in principle the issue of Soviet wartime debts. We agreed in principle on a figure of $500 million plus interest of about 3%, which will bring it to a figure of about $725 million—to be paid by the year 2001. It will not reduce our national debt significantly! There are many other technical provisions which I don’t think are of any interest to the Ambassador.

In the field of trade, we will find the Soviet Union eligible for Export-Import credits and Most Favored Nation status, and they will grant us business facilities and normal international machinery for arbitration of disputed claims, and some provision against market disruption.

Some Soviet journalist said we will give credits of $5 billion. That is total nonsense. The first credit will be $150 million, and no significant increase is planned. But I think we both know who Victor Louis works for.

They expressed very great interest in investment in their natural gas fields and other resources. We will set up a mechanism to study this problem, but we will not invest any substantial governmental funds.

This is an outline of the trade agreement which I think we will conclude within the next month.

There was some discussion on the admission of the two Germanies to the United Nations. Our position is that if the two German states make an agreement with each other to settle their relationships, then after the signature of the treaty we will agree to observer status for the German Democratic Republic, and then after the treaty is ratified we will agree to the membership of the two German States. This is the position of the Bonn Government, and we are supporting that.

We also discussed Vietnam, which followed familiar lines.

There was a discussion on the last day on our relationship with China, initiated by the Soviet Union. They asked us whether we were [Page 1074]cooperating with you against them, and what our position was on the border question. We said that you had never raised the border question with us, and therefore we had no occasion to take a position on the border question. And secondly, that our relationships concerned primarily bilateral issues.

They expressed some concern that you and Japan might concert together against white people. We said we had no evidence of that, and indeed evidence of the contrary, and that with respect to Japan existing relationships should be maintained. They said that if they increased their activity in Japan, it would not be directed against the United States. And they also engaged in a long discussion of the Mongolian air accident of last year, and that you wanted them and us to engage in conflict.

That was the extent of that conversation.

We said we had no news about your internal situation because we dealt only with one group of leaders and didn’t know about anybody else. And that you had never urged us to be in the position of conflict with the Soviet Union. On the contrary.

The discussion didn’t have any particular point. I mean, they didn’t ask us to do anything.

Now, leaving Moscow, I talked with German leaders about their relation with you. But I gather that is in good shape and requires no extensive discussion with us.

On Vietnam, as you know, I had another meeting with the Vietnamese in Paris. As I told you last time, I am giving you my opening statement as well as our formal proposal we made to them. [Tab C]4 For the information of the Prime Minister.

Now we believe this proposal goes to the absolute limit of what we can do. You probably have your own judgment of our domestic situation and you will be able to report it to Peking, but we are not under the impression that we are under any domestic pressure on this issue.

You will see from this proposal we are prepared to withdraw very rapidly all our forces, that we agree to the creation of committees to supervise elections in which the NLF has equal representation with the Saigon Government, and that this same committee can review the Constitution, and revise it.

This is one way of approaching it. Of course, the simplest way of approaching it would be a ceasefire, which they tell us is only a military act—but in fact it would create de facto control by the NLF in their [Page 1075]areas and by the Saigon Government in its areas, and would constitute a de facto allocation of political power. What we cannot do and in no circumstances will do is for us to destroy the people we have been associated with. We will agree on a natural evolution but we will not engage in such an immoral act.

We are now beginning a very intensive period of discussions. I am meeting with them next week. If they were Chinese I am certain we would reach an agreement. I’m quite serious. When we settled with you, we agreed on things that could be settled immediately and on things that could happen over a period of time. And we’re prepared to do the same with them. I shall meet, as I said, next week, and maybe for two days. And if they would accept some approach like this, we would settle very quickly.

The only other issue I have is, you have asked us about keeping Bangladesh off the agenda of the UN. We will reply to you formally, but we cannot do that because of our position of favoring the admission of Bangladesh. But we will handle it in a low key, with a minimum of drama, and we will work to keep it from being a very active issue. During the debate, first, we will stress that it should be handled routinely, and secondly, we will emphasize the great importance we attach to prompt implementation of last year’s Security Council resolutions.

That is all I have.

Ambassador Huang: Thank you for what you have told us. We will convey this.

[The Ambassador took out a paper and began to read.]

In our past conversations, the Chinese side dwelt on the question of Korea. The Chinese side understands the complexity of the Korean question, as well as the peculiar situation in which the United States finds itself this year, and does not intend to embarrass the United States. It is China’s policy and wish to see the situation in the Far East as a whole, and move towards relaxation. The US side may note that there are essential differences between the 28-nation draft resolution and previous similar draft resolutions, and that the present draft resolution takes into account the new situation that has emerged in the Far East and on the Korean peninsula, and strives to bring the two different sides closer.

If there are any questions that are not clear, the US may raise them at any time.

The Chinese side believes that discussion of the new draft resolution on the Korean question at the current session of the UN General Assembly would help to ease the atmosphere and promote mutual understanding between the parties concerned. However, if there should be insistent opposition to the inclusion of the new draft resolution on [Page 1076]the Korean question in the agenda, it would most probably give rise to controversy right at the beginning of this session, and thus benefit a certain big power which is unwilling to see the easing of the situation in Asia.

As for concrete arrangements, the Chinese side takes a flexible attitude. If discussion at an early date should cause certain inconveniences to the US side, arrangements for the discussion to be held at a time after November could also be considered. By then, the worries on the US side would no longer exist, and it would be able to take the initiative in advancing its positive propositions. It is hoped that the US side will give earnest consideration to the above views and take the necessary corresponding actions.

I am instructed to tell the US side…

Dr. Kissinger: May I ask a question? Concretely, what does it mean? Does it mean you would agree to a postponement of the discussion only if we agree to a discussion? Or does it mean you would agree to postpone the discussion and we would remain free to take any position we wanted?

Ambassador Huang: Our consideration is that if an early discussion will cause inconvenience to the US side, then arrangements can be made to hold the discussion after the November election.

Dr. Kissinger: I understand.

Ambassador Huang: By then the worries on the US side will no longer exist, and you would be able to take the initiative in advancing positive propositions.

Dr. Kissinger: I won’t embarrass you. I understand.

If there is a discussion now, we will take the position that the whole discussion should be deferred to next year. If the discussion is postponed to November, we might still take the position that it should be deferred. This of course we would prefer.

Ambassador Huang: We have told you our position.

Dr. Kissinger: I understand. Let me take this up with our Ambassador. I will not take it up with anyone other than the Ambassador and he will be in touch with you. We understand your point, and we appreciate the spirit in which it is advanced.

Ambassador Huang: Our view is that discussion of this question should no longer be deferred.

Dr. Kissinger: I understand.

Ambassador Huang: The timing of the discussion, it can be held until after November. If the US side has positive proposals, you can raise them.

Dr. Kissinger: We understand. We will have to consider.

[Page 1077]

Ambassador Huang: The above is the first item I’m instructed to convey.

The second item: Not long ago, Prasit Kanchanawat, Deputy Director of the Thai Division of Economics and Finance, accompanied … [Mrs. Shih stops and spells the name again slowly.]

Dr. Kissinger: I was afraid our planes had flown over a Chinese town named that!

Ambassador Huang: … accompanied the Thai table tennis delegation to Peking, where he met Premier Chou En-lai and other Chinese officials. Both sides expressed the hope that relations between China and Thailand could be somewhat improved. Although it is not possible to restore state relations at the moment, trade contacts may start first. The Chinese side welcomes people from Thai economic circles to visit China, and holds that this is not only in the interests of the peoples of China and Thailand but also conducive to the relaxation of the situation in Southeast Asia.

The third item: The small amount of wheat recently purchased from a French company is for the adjustment of our grain varieties, and we had not thought of making it public. It is reported that there are some in the United States who have utilized and played up the matter, and deliberately put the agricultural situation in China on a par with that of the Soviet Union. This will only bring harm to such normal trade contacts. It is hoped that Dr. Kissinger would use his influence to forestall or minimize recurrences of such things. We also have trade contacts with American businessmen. We still believe that with the progressive development towards normalization of Sino-US relations there will be corresponding development in trade between the two countries.5

Fourth …

Dr. Kissinger: May I make a comment? The first time I heard about this agricultural deal was the day before I took it up with you. It is not our governmental judgment to make your agricultural situation on a par with that of the Soviet Union. It is not, however, our governmental situation to know about these matters. If you can let us know in advance, it will help prevent such in the future. It is not a formal request. Just in order for us to be helpful. It is not in our interest to give publicity to these matters.

Ambassador Huang: The fourth item: Having been kindly notified that Senator Mansfield would come to China for a formal visit in an official capacity, we still hope to be informed in concrete terms of the tasks for Senator Mansfield’s visit.

[Page 1078]

The above are the four items I am instructed to convey to you.

Now I would like to tell you in a personal capacity about the exchanges between our two countries—the people-to-people exchanges. The Chinese side has informed the US side through the Paris channel that the Chinese medical delegation intends to visit the United States in October. The Chinese scientists’ delegation plans to visit this country in the latter part of November or the beginning of December. And the Chinese acrobatic troupe may visit the United States by the end of December.6

Dr. Kissinger: Have we been notified of all these?

Ambassador Huang: Yes, already. Well, when I got the information, I knew you were already informed through the Paris channel. At the beginning, probably Ambassador Watson was absent.

Dr. Kissinger: I will catch up with this.

Ambassador Huang: We will continue to contact the US side through the Paris channel on the concrete details for the visit of the three delegations to the US, and the US Government is again requested to assist in insuring their security during their visit.

And Dr. Kissinger might know that the visit to the United States of the Chinese scientists’ delegation was agreed upon between the two sides when the delegation of the Federation of American Scientists extended an invitation to the Chinese scientists during the visit of the Federation delegation to China last summer. The Federation has already made some preparations. However, as the US side has recommended the US Committee on Scholarly Communication with the PRC as an organization for regular reception of visiting Chinese science and scholarly delegations, the Chinese side will not get involved in the internal relations between various US organizations. The Chinese side wishes to know if it is practicable for the Federation and the Committee to collaborate in receiving the Chinese scientists’ delegation, or if it is convenient to the US side for the Federation alone to receive the delegation. For the Chinese side, both ways are acceptable. The Chinese side hopes to hear the views of the US side as soon as possible, either in Paris or in New York, so as to give a formal reply to the Federation of American Scientists.

Dr. Kissinger: We appreciate this personal information, Mr. Ambassador.

First, with respect to security, we will make the maximum effort, and in addition we will make every effort to see that every courtesy is extended.

[Page 1079]

I would appreciate it as a personal courtesy if the Ambassador could let me know any recommendations he may have for how to make our Chinese visitors more comfortable here. This is not an official request, but on a personal basis. But we will take it extremely seriously.

Ambassador Huang: We will respect the arrangements by the US side for the visit, for the reception of the visit.

Dr. Kissinger: We will have an answer on the scientists’ visit within a week and we will let you know through this channel.

Ambassador Huang: Just now we discussed the Korean question and I’d like to give you a copy of the draft resolution sponsored by 28 nations. [Tab D]7 This is just for your information.

Dr. Kissinger: [reads it] I don’t think we will agree to every paragraph.

Ambassador Huang: Just now you mentioned Gromyko’s proposal for inclusion in the agenda for renunciation of force and prohibition of the use of nuclear weapons. We also received it very late and have not made a study of it. They have a very bad habit—always a surprise attack!

Dr. Kissinger: We will keep you informed but I can tell you now we will not support it. We have not decided on our tactical procedure but we will not agree to the substance.

Ambassador Huang: That’s all.

Dr. Kissinger: Two things. You know that everything we do bilaterally with the Soviet Union we are prepared to do with you. We are not requesting it, but you should know there is no discrimination. We are prepared to do exactly the same thing with you. After the election we would be prepared to have a long range discussion of what we see as the problems over the next three-to-four years, before we freeze our policy.

Secondly, speaking of Gromyko, he will come to Washington as he does every year, for one day, on October 2.

You have a standing invitation too, but you won’t come!

Ambassador Huang: It is not very convenient.

Dr. Kissinger: I was at a press party the other night and someone said to me, don’t you speak kindly of anyone except the Chinese?

Ambassador Huang: On Bangladesh—tomorrow at 3:00 p.m. will be a meeting of the General Committee.

[Page 1080]

Dr. Kissinger: My people tell me you’ll lose the vote. But my people told me last year we would win a certain vote!

Ambassador Huang: If it loses in the General Committee, it will come up again in the plenary meeting.

Dr. Kissinger: Before or after November?

Ambassador Huang: On the 22nd, immediately after.

Dr. Kissinger: Will you fire many cannons?

Ambassador Huang: Not many.

Dr. Kissinger: We will tell our Ambassador not to use any adjectives. [Laughter]

You will not have reinforcements in the first part of the General Assembly?

Ambassador Huang: I want to tell you that Vice Foreign Minister Chiao Kuan-hua will arrive in New York either the 30th of September or October 1. The information we’ve got now is he will arrive the 30th of September.

Dr. Kissinger: I will not mention it.

Ambassador Huang: We’ve already informed the US delegation.

Dr. Kissinger: I hope I can invite him to dinner when he’s here, on some occasion, and of course, the Ambassador as well.

Ambassador Huang: I will certainly convey this to him.

Dr. Kissinger: We can renegotiate the Shanghai Communiqué! We spent many nights together.

[Word was received that the Ambassador’s car had arrived. The group got up and shook hands.]

Dr. Kissinger: I wish I could wish you a productive session. Let us hope for an amicable session.

Ambassador Huang: There will be controversy.

[The meeting ended.]

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 850, President’s File—China Trip, China Exchanges. Top Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only. Attached but not printed were Kissinger’s talking points.
  2. Attached at Tab A but not printed is the joint announcement made at the conclusion of Kissinger’s September 10–14 visit to the USSR. The text is in Department of State Bulletin, October 9, 1972, p. 398. All brackets and ellipses are in the source text.
  3. Attached at Tab B but not printed is an undated paper entitled “Prevention of Nuclear War,” as well as a copy of a September 13 “Soviet note” discussing a resolution for the “non-use of force in international relations and on the prohibition for all time of the use of nuclear weapons.” See Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, vol. E–13, Documents 155 and 156. The PRC responded in a message given to V. James Fazio, Deputy Director of the White House Situation Room, on September 26. The four-part statement reads in part: “1. The Soviet proposal is a hoax aimed at hoodwinking public opinion and masking its policy of nuclear monopoly and nuclear threat. 2. The Chinese side has always stood for strict differentiation between the aggressor and the victim of aggression, and opposed sweeping generalization on the non-use of force.” Point three declared that the Soviet goal was to “keep nuclear weapons permanently in their hands and develop them continuously.” Point four noted that the PRC intended to “expose and refute” the Soviet proposal in the United Nations General Assembly. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 850, President’s File—China Trip, China Exchanges) See Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, vol. E–13, Document 159.
  4. Attached at Tab C but not printed is the 8-page opening statement and the 10-point proposal. See ibid., Document 161.
  5. See Document 250.
  6. See Document 248.
  7. Attached at Tab D but not printed is the “Draft Resolution: Creation of favourable conditions to accelerate the independent and peaceful reunification of Korea.” See Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, vol. E–13, Document 158.