74. Letter From President Nixon to the President of the Republic of China Chiang Kai-shek1
Dear Mr. President:
Your letter of March 1 was most welcome.2 I greatly appreciated your frankness and your sincere concern for the success of my efforts to bring a lasting peace to East Asia.
From the conversations which we had together before I became President and from the previous correspondence which we have exchanged, I know of your deep distrust of Communist China’s motives. In my own evaluation of Communist China, I do not ignore the legacy of the past, nor do I ignore the threat which the Chinese Communist regime may pose in the future. In my report to the Congress of February 18, 1970 on United States Foreign Policy, I stated that in dealing with the Communist countries we would not underestimate the depth of ideological disagreement or the disparity between their interests and ours.3 You may recall, too, that in my press conference of January 30 I cited the potential danger to the United States posed by the growth of Communist China’s nuclear weapons capability.4
At the same time, Mr. President, I believe that I would be remiss in my duty to the American people if I did not attempt to discover whether a basis may not exist for reducing the risk of a conflict between the United States and Communist China, and whether certain of the issues which lie between us may not be settled by negotiation. The alternative of maintaining a hostile relationship indefinitely while weapons of mass destruction increase in numbers and power is a terrible one, and demands that every reasonable effort be made to promote understandings which will contribute to peace and stability in Asia.
In undertaking this effort, I of course have in mind not only the essential interests of the American people, but of our allies as well.[Page 194]
In your letter you have expressed concern for certain aspects of our talks with the Chinese Communists at Warsaw. Secretary Rogers has received from your Ambassador in Washington a detailed statement of your Government’s views on these matters and is replying to them.5
I wish, however, to assure you personally and in the strongest terms of my determination that there shall be no change in the firmness of our commitment to the defense of Taiwan and the Pescadores and of my earnest desire that these talks will not affect the friendship and close cooperation which has existed between our Governments for so many years. I deeply value our long personal relationship as candid friends and am confident that this will serve us well in the future.
Mrs. Nixon joins me in extending our best wishes and warmest regards to you and Madame Chiang. We trust that Madame Chiang’s health has improved.
- Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 751, Presidential Correspondence File, Republic of China, President Chiang Kai-shek. Sent in telegram 45340 to Taipei, March 27. (Ibid., RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL CHICOM–US) In an April 11 memorandum to Nixon, Kissinger indicated that he sent the response to the ROC while Nixon was in Key Biscayne, Florida. (Ibid., Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 700, Country Files, Europe, Poland Vol. II Warsaw Talks 2/1/70–6/30/70) The response was drafted in EA, then forwarded by Green to Rogers for approval on March 16. Kissinger modified this response after receiving it under a covering memorandum from Eliot on March 21.↩
- See Document 71.↩
- The report was published as a separate document but is also printed in Public Papers: Nixon, 1970, pp. 116–190. Pages 181–182 address Sino-American relations.↩
- Ibid., p. 44.↩
- These notes were in response to ROC messages from early March. See footnote 4, Document 71. Rogers’ note to the ROC Ambassador was sent to Taipei in telegram 45069, March 27, to be delivered to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL CHICOM–US) McConaughy delivered the letter to Chiang on March 28. (Telegram 1404 from Taipei, March 28; ibid.) On March 27 an identical message was given to Ambassador Chow in Washington. (Telegram 45437 to Taipei, March 27; ibid.)↩
- Printed from a copy that indicates Nixon signed the original.↩