48. Memorandum From John H. Holdridge of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1


  • Warsaw Talks and Taiwan Strait Patrol

State is thinking of using the elimination of the Taiwan Strait patrol as a lever to encourage the Chinese who wish to reopen the Warsaw talks. Prior to the formal pitch we will make at the Ambassadorial talks to the Chinese Communists in Warsaw on our modification of the Taiwan Strait patrol—and as a means of re-starting such talks—State wants to make the same pitch to a Chinese official in Hong Kong [less than 1 line of source text not declassified]. A message for your clearance is at Tab A,2 [1 line of source text not declassified].

State’s purpose in this clandestine approach is to reinforce the formal approach, and make sure that Peking gets the message. They say that with the adjustments in ship movements through the Taiwan Strait made to satisfy the GRC about our continued presence there, it might otherwise take a while for Peking to learn of the modification (i.e. suspension) of the Taiwan Strait patrol. (In order to reassure President Chiang, we are routing some fifteen ships a month through the Strait to make up in part for the elimination of the destroyer patrol.)

I assume that, in the formal channel at Warsaw, State intends to make clear that we are not withdrawing from our commitments. (State’s purpose is simply to make some political capital out of a decision taken on budgetary grounds; we would not want the ploy to be misinterpreted as a signal of diminished US interest, which could conceivably encourage Chinese Communist pressure against the offshore islands or elsewhere. I shall be sure that you clear any instruction to Warsaw.)

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Although as a general rule I believe we should steer away from gimmickry such as this, I consider that under the confusing circumstances which are developing in the Taiwan Strait it would be advisable to move ahead. The draft telegram has already been cleared all over the place, but unless Under Secretary Johnson discussed it with you directly, the matter was not put to us until the draft actually arrived.


That you clear the draft message at Tab A.3

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 700, Country Files, Europe, Poland, Vol. I, Warsaw Talks up to 1/31/70. Secret; Nodis. Sent for action. According to another copy of the memorandum, it was drafted by Grant on November 21. (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Chronological File, Box CL 3, Folder: November 17–30, 1969)
  2. Attached at Tab A but not printed is a memorandum from Coerr (INR/DOC) to Nelson (CIA), drafted by Thayer (EA/ACA). The message read in part: “the Department requests that you take steps as soon as possible to draw this modification [of the Strait patrol] to Peking’s attention. [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] a ‘rumor’ that the U.S. Navy’s regularly scheduled patrol of the Taiwan Strait, which previously operated from Taiwan ports, is being discontinued, although U.S. Navy vessels will continue to transit the Strait. The rumor would not include any knowledge of the reason for the modification but would express the view that the move was interesting.” Also attached was a draft telegram to Warsaw, Taipei, and Hong Kong, [text not declassified].
  3. Kissinger initialed the approval option on November 26. An attached handwritten note reads: “Return to Holdridge for action. State not yet informed.” Holdridge wrote on the note: “State informed 11/26 2:50 p.m.” [text not declassified] (Memorandum from Nelson to Coerr, December 3; Department of State, INR/IL Historical Files, Country Files, Far East, China, 1969–1970)