262. Message From the Government of the United States to the Government of the People’s Republic of China 1

The U.S. side, as always, has given earnest consideration to the views of the Chinese side as conveyed in the message of October 31, 1972. It wishes to state its position once again.

The record is absolutely clear that the U.S. side told the DRV side on many occasions that it could not proceed without consultations with the Republic of Vietnam. The transcripts of the meetings fully testify to this fact. The U.S. side, while constantly pointing out the possibilities for delay, agreed to the accelerated schedule proposed by the DRV because of its interest in achieving a peaceful settlement as rapidly as possible.

The U.S. side made maximum efforts to adhere to the schedule, but its task was greatly complicated by many actions on the DRV side. These included the interview given to an American journalist by the North Vietnamese Prime Minister while the most sensitive consultations were underway in Saigon which claimed an agreement and the [Page 1104] intent to overthrow the government with which negotiations were being conducted; the obvious preparations made by the DRV side to have the ceasefire coincide with maximum military activity in South Vietnam; and the North Vietnamese exploitation of its translation—never agreed to by the U.S. side—of the English phrase “administrative structure” which the DRV side itself proposed. The Vietnamese term suggests a governmental body which is totally inconsistent with the meaning of the agreement as recognized by both sides. This represents an ambiguity that must be rectified and provides a clear illustration of the need for another meeting.

But no point is served in cataloging accusations. Only two explanations are possible for recent events. Either the US is seriously engaged in attempting to bring about peace. Or it is engaged in a trick to thwart an agreement. The U.S. side recognizes that the DRV side may suspect that the U.S. is undertaking a maneuver designed to renege on the agreement after the elections. The U.S. side wishes to reiterate that it wishes to bring about peace in the most rapid manner, that its policy will not change after the elections and that it will maintain all its commitments. Therefore, if temporary obstacles are encountered, whatever the reason, there is a need for understanding and not the constant reiteration of one-sided charges. All countries have an interest in ending the war in Vietnam.

As for the specific allegations in the Chinese note, Dr. Kissinger is unavailable between November 4 and 9 because of longstanding commitments, the nature of which cannot be hard to understand. This, of course, in no way changes the undertaking to meet promptly and for as long as necessary with the DRV to complete the agreement.

With respect to the argument that if it is possible to gain the acquiescence of Saigon after another session this proves that this has always been possible, surely the Chinese side must know the difference between presenting a plan without consultation in three days and a program worked out over a period of weeks after intensive consultation and sense of participation.

There is a more fundamental point with respect to U.S. relations with the Republic of Vietnam. The Chinese side, considering all the conversations it has had with the U.S. side about respecting basic principles, must surely understand that the U.S. cannot treat an ally as a puppet. This would accord neither with reality nor principle. The constant assumption and public reiteration by the DRV that the U.S. has complete mastery over its friends has been one of the root causes of present difficulties. The U.S. side would like to remind the Chinese side of the many conversations between Dr. Kissinger and the Prime Minister in which Dr. Kissinger expressed understanding and respect for the Chinese meticulous treatment of Prince Sihanouk, a friendly leader [Page 1105] who was a guest on Chinese soil. The U.S. side points out that its problems with its friends are no easier and its principles no different.

In any event it is not true that the U.S. side has adopted all its ally’s objections as its own positions. This was made amply clear in Dr. Kissinger’s October 26, 1972 press conference and is obvious as well from the list of unresolved questions that the U.S. has outlined to the DRV side.

With reference to the question of North Vietnamese troops in South Vietnam, the U.S., as a very great concession, agreed that this issue would not be mentioned in the agreement. The U.S. will continue to respect this point. Nor is the U.S. endorsing the Republic of Vietnam’s position that all North Vietnamese troops be withdrawn from the South. The U.S. is simply reiterating its previous proposal, made at every private meeting and never withdrawn, for a practical solution, namely that some North Vietnamese divisions in the northernmost part of South Vietnam be moved relatively short distances across the demilitarized zone. This would be done as a unilateral North Vietnamese action, would not be part of the agreement, and would thus fully take account of DRV principle. Rather than being criticized, the U.S. side believes that it should receive understanding for its very flexible approach.

With respect to more nearly simultaneous ceasefires in Indochina, the U.S. side is certain that with good will this issue will be resolved. The other changes being proposed are essentially technical and procedural and should present little difficulty.

The U.S. side wishes to reemphasize that once these issues have been resolved, the United States will assert itself fully to consummate the agreement and ask for no further substantive changes.

The U.S. side informs the Chinese side as solemnly as possible that if the DRV side resumes negotiations in Paris with its serious attitude of the October sessions, the final agreement will be rapidly settled. With understanding for the ensuing process of U.S. consultations with its ally to prepare for implementation, there would be a final signature of the agreement no more than two to three weeks later. In the interval the U.S. would stop the bombing of DRV territory.

If in this process the U.S. side fails to gain the concurrence of its ally, which it considers improbable, the U.S. side would then be prepared to discuss implementation of a bilateral agreement.

The U.S. side is willing to undertake as an obligation to the Chinese side the schedule and commitments with respect to the bombing of North Vietnam that it has proposed to the DRV side. The Chinese side surely knows the value that the U.S. side attaches to its relationship with the PRC toward whom the U.S. side has never violated the letter or spirit of its commitments.

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The Chinese side must now decide the best road to peace. The U.S. side has made, and will continue to make, maximum efforts to complete the agreement. The urgent task now is to follow a program which will enable the parties to move as rapidly as possible toward the ending of the war and the restoration of peace.

With mutual good will and understanding all difficulties will be surmounted. The alternative is continuation of the conflict with all its consequences. If current pressure tactics continue the US will have no choice but to continue the war which can then only grow in violence. The US side reiterates that it far prefers a solution which will establish a new relationship with the Democratic Republic of Vietnam and accelerate the improvement in its relationship with the People’s Republic of China.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 850, President’s File–China Trip, China Exchanges. No classification marking. A handwritten notation on the first page reads: “Handed to Mrs. Shih by J. Fazio, 4 PM, 11/1/72, NYC.” Attached but not printed is Fazio’s undated memorandum of record, which reads in full: “Following is a report of a meeting with Mrs. Shih at the Chinese Mission in New York on November 1, 1972. I entered the Mission at 3:45 p.m., was greeted by Mrs. Shih, and escorted to the second floor. Tea was served and pleasantries exchanged. I presented the note to Mrs. Shih (attached), which she read very carefully. She had no questions and said she would pass it on. Mrs. Shih immediately changed the subject and small talk followed. I departed the Mission at 4:10 p.m.”