62. Telegram From the Embassy in Poland to the Department of State1

143. Subj: Sino-US Talks: 135th Meeting. Ref: (A) State 8061;2 (B) Warsaw 141.3

In relatively brief (one hour) meeting, I opened with text provided ref (A). Chinese statement which followed started with assertion that basis of ChiCom foreign policy was peaceful coexistence on basis of five principles. From this Lei Yang moved to note that these principles were not consistent with interference by one country in internal affairs of another or forcible occupation by one country of territory of another. He observed that my statement to him on January 8 had spoken of widening communication and political dialogue with PRC but had omitted any mention of Taiwan.4 He then devoted bulk of his remaining opening statement to Taiwan issue.
He emphasized Taiwan was crux of long-standing Sino-US disputes. Reviewing history of issue beginning with Cairo and Potsdam Declarations, US interposition of 7th Fleet in Taiwan Strait at beginning of Korean War, and USGRC Treaty following conclusion of Korean War, he said US had attempted to legalize forcible occupation of Taiwan, to plan to bring about “Two Chinas” or “One China, One Taiwan” situation, and to separate Taiwan from China. He said US had carried out war threats and provocations against Mainland from Taiwan and has provided military aircraft to the GRC in the name of our treaty responsibilities. All this was intervention and aggression against the PRC.

He emphasized that the PRC would certainly liberate Taiwan and would never allow another country to occupy China’s territory.

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Any expectation that Peking’s position on this would change was fruitless. He emphasized that it had been the fault of the US that no progress had been made in the Sino-US talks thus far because the US continued to talk about subsidiary issues, rather than the key issue of Taiwan. It was up to the US, he said, to consider how to deal with this basic issue if it wished to improve relations with the PRC.

China, Lei said, was consistently in favor of the use of negotiations and peaceful means to resolve disputes between the US and the PRC and were prepared on this basis to explore and consider how to resolve the basic problems existing between the two countries. PRC was willing to consider and discuss any thoughts and proposals consistent with the principles of peaceful coexistence which the US wished to put forward.
Concluding, Lei said that such proposals could be put forward either through the Ambassadorial-level talks or through higher-level discussions or any other channel which both sides might agree upon.5
The general flavor of Lei’s remarks was non-polemical. His restatement of the PRC’s Taiwan position did not explicitly call for any specific action by the US. He did not refer to any specific incidents, to the 7th Fleet (except in the context of his recitation of the history of the Taiwan issue), to “US–Soviet collusion”, to Viet-Nam, or to any other multilateral or ideological issues. Likewise, Lei did not comment on US trade or travel moves. His sole focus was on Taiwan as a bilateral, political, non-ideological issue between us, and upon Peking’s willingness to resolve disputes with the US through peaceful negotiations.
I replied only briefly to Lei Yang’s remarks, reiterating in accordance with Department’s guidance that the US position relating to Taiwan was clear, that it was without prejudice to any peaceful settlement which might be arrived at between Peking and Taipei, and observed that it was my feeling that there was much similarity between the positions he and I had set forth so far as our desire to resolve any disputes in the area, including Taiwan, by peaceful means. I then asked whether he could elaborate on the meaning of “other channels” as a means of continuing our discussions.
Lei on his part repeated that Peking’s position on Taiwan was clear, the USGRC treaty was not recognized by the people of China, [Page 169] and that Taiwan was not a state but a part of China. Lei specifically noted that he would refer to Peking our proposal on sending a representative to Peking or having a Chinese representative visit Washington. He declined to elaborate on the meaning of meetings at “higher level” or through “other channels,” and suggested PRC would consider US specific proposal on this subject or could work out proposal at ambassadorial meeting. He then suggested that rather than setting a specific date for the next meeting, liaison officers of our two Embassies be in touch soon.
Our over-all impression of the meeting was that the Chinese wished it to be considered as a serious opening negotiating session in which direct bilateral issues could be set forth and general ideological issues set aside. The atmosphere was straightforward and businesslike with the Chinese moving the actual meeting from a large formal hall (where newsmen were allowed to take photographs) to a small, informal conference room. (We assume this was for security reasons as well as for greater ease of dialogue and strongly recommend that no public mention be made of fact talks did not actually take place where newsmen were admitted.) It is somewhat ambiguous at this point who will take the initiative in proposing the next meeting. I suspect the Chinese intentionally left it so.
In briefing friendly governments on meeting, I recommend that Chinese statement be characterized as generally dealing with problem of Taiwan, restating essence of ChiCom position on historical character of this dispute. General non-polemical, non-ideological character of ChiCom presentation might also be noted. Recommend, however, that ChiCom proposal on higher-level meetings and willingness discuss peaceful resolution of outstanding disputes with US might be held to ourselves for present. Chinese we believe have gone to considerable efforts to maintain security of present meeting and any leak of relatively relaxed Chinese comments or optimistic characterization of atmosphere of meeting could embarrass our future contacts with Chinese and force defensive hardening of their posture.
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL CHICOMUS. Secret; Immediate; Nodis. Received at 2 p.m. Kissinger forwarded the cable to the President on January 21 in his daily briefing memorandum. (Ibid., Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 16, President’s Daily Briefs) The Embassy sent the full record of the meeting to the Department of State on January 24 in Airgram A–25 from Warsaw. (Ibid.) See Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, vol. E–13, Document 3 Stoessel, Kreisberg (Advisor), Donald M. Anderson (Interpreter), Thomas W. Simons (Scribe), Lei Yang (Chargé d’Affaires), Li Ch-ching (Advisor), Ch’ien Yung-nien (Interpreter), and Yeh Wei-lan (Scribe) attended both the January 20 and February 20 meetings.
  2. See footnote 2, Document 61.
  3. Telegram 141 from Warsaw, January 20, relayed the contents of Stoessel’s public statement following the meeting. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL CHICOMUS
  4. See footnote 2, Document 59.
  5. The full record of the meeting (see footnote 1 above) shows that, following the instructions from the Department of State, Stoessel offered that “If as these talks progress it would seem to be useful and your Government would so desire, my Government would be prepared to consider sending a representative to Peking for direct discussions with your officials or receiving a representative of your Government in Washington for more thorough exploration of any of the subjects I have mentioned in my remarks today or other matters on which we might agree.”