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


  • Word from China through Pakistan
[Page 154]

The Pakistani Ambassador came in with a report on a recent exchange between President Yahya and the Chinese Communist Ambassador in Pakistan.2

President Yahya early in November had called in the Chinese Ambassador to tell him the impressions he had gained in his talk with you in August and also to report our intentions to withdraw two destroyers from the Taiwan Straits.3 Basically, his message was that the U.S. is interested in normalizing relations with Communist China.

Early this month, the Chinese Ambassador returned to President Yahya after having heard from Peking. He told President Yahya that the Chinese appreciate the Pakistani role and efforts. He added that, as a result, the Chinese had released two Americans a few days before. [This apparently refers to the two yachtsmen released by the Chinese.]4

Ambassador Hilaly asked whether there was anything of more precise substance that I could give him to be discussed when Chou En-lai visits Pakistan. He said that no date for this visit had been set yet.

I made these two points:

When a date is settled for the visit, I would pass on to him something more specific which President Yahya might say.
The Pakistanis could, however, pass along the following word to the Chinese: We appreciate this communication which Ambassador Hilaly had brought. We are serious in our desire to have conversations with the Chinese. If they want to have these conversations in a more secure manner than Warsaw makes possible or in channels less widely disseminated within the bureaucracy, you would be prepared to do this.

Ambassador Hilaly indicated that he would send this message back to President Yahya.

I will consult with you in greater detail when we learn that a date has been set for Chou En-lai’s visit to Pakistan.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 1031, Files for the President—China Material, Exchanges Leading up to HAK Trip to China—December 1969–July 1971. Secret; Nodis. Sent for information. A notation on the memorandum indicates the President saw it.
  2. The conversation between Hilaly and Kissinger was held in Kissinger’s office on December 19. The memorandum of conversation is ibid.
  3. See Document 20.
  4. Brackets in the source text. Two Americans were detained by local Chinese authorities after straying into PRC territorial waters off the coast of Kwangtung Province near Macao on February 16, 1969. They were released on December 7. PRC representatives informed the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw on December 7. (Telegram 3724 from Warsaw; National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 33–4 CHICOM) In his December 8 daily briefing memorandum for the President, Kissinger remarked that their release “culminates a series of low-key Chinese moves clearly intended to signal us— and probably the Soviets—that they are interested in greater communication with us.” (Ibid., Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 14, President’s Daily Briefs) Chinese sources had claimed that the release was in response to the relaxation of trade restrictions, ending the Taiwan Strait patrol, and U.S. opposition to Soviet suggestions for joint action against the PRC. (Jin Zhongji, ed., (A Biography of Zhou Enlai) (Bejing: Zhonggong zhongyang wenxian yanjiushe, 1998), p. 2046)