80. Editorial Note

Scheduling problems, conflict over the war in Vietnam, as well as growing interest in other avenues of communication between the United States and the People’s Republic of China brought the Warsaw talks to an end in 1970. After internal discussion of the timing and goals of Sino-American talks (see Documents 72 and 73), the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs, Henry Kissinger, requested that the next Warsaw meeting be held between March 23 and 27. The Department of State asked for more time to prepare and suggested April 1–3 as the next meeting date. (Memorandum from Eliot to Kissinger, March 21; National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL CHICOMUS)

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Executive Secretary of the Department of State Theodore Eliot reported on March 28 that the PRC had not responded to the suggestion of the April 1–3 dates. He added: “The first Chinese Communist Foreign Ministry statement on Laos in a year was issued on March 26 and appeared to convey sharply increased Chinese concern over the developing situation, particularly the involvement of Thai troops and U.S. bombing.” Eliot suggested that the meetings be delayed until after the April 18–28 visit of ROC Vice Premier Chiang Ching-Kuo to the United States. (Memorandum from Eliot to Kissinger; ibid.) Chiang Ching-Kuo made his irritation over the Warsaw talks known to U.S. officials, even hinting that he might cancel his visit. (Telegrams 1590 and 1591 from Taipei, April 9; ibid., POL 7 CHINAT)

On March 31 PRC diplomats in Warsaw suggested meeting on April 15, a date closer to Chiang’s scheduled U.S. visit. (Telegram 726 from Warsaw; ibid., POL CHICOMUS) The United States responded on April 1 by proposing an April 30 or later date. The Chinese accepted May 20 for the next meeting. Eliot noted the “apparent ‘hardening’ of Peking’s propaganda stance on a range of international issues since the beginning of April—possibly following a Politburo meeting.” (Memorandum from Eliot to Kissinger; April 28; ibid.)

Within the Department of State, there existed varying degrees of eagerness to arrange a meeting with the Chinese. For example, Paul Kreisberg of the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs sent a 3-page memorandum through the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, Winthrop Brown, to the Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, Marshall Green, on April 22, outlining options for the next Warsaw meeting. Kreisberg suggested that the United States “indicate that we wish to continue our dialogue, that we do not believe that developments in Southeast Asia should affect the Warsaw meetings.” He included a draft telegram to Warsaw in order to have this message relayed to the Chinese. Brown and Green cleared the draft. Secretary of State William Rogers wrote on the cable: “Disapprove. Why should we seem to be so anxious.” (Ibid.)

On May 18 the Chinese cancelled the May 20 meeting but did offer to meet on June 20 to discuss future talks. In a May 18 memorandum to Rogers, subsequently re-written as a May 19 memorandum from Rogers to President Nixon, Green pointed out that this cancellation was different from the situation in 1969. (See Document 6) He noted the relatively moderate terms used to criticize U.S. policies in Southeast Asia and commented that the cancellation “serves to meet the needs of its relations with Moscow and Hanoi by pointedly avoiding talking with the U.S. at this stage.” (Ibid.) [text not declassified] The PRC’s public stance is printed as “137th Meeting of Sino-U.S. Ambassadorial Talks Postponed,” Beijing Review, May 29, 1970, pages 38–39.

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On June 18 the United States accepted the PRC offer to meet on June 20. (Telegram 95760 to Warsaw; National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL CHICOMUS) On June 20, however, a PRC diplomat in Warsaw made the following announcement to U.S. diplomats visiting the Chinese Embassy: “I am instructed to notify you of the following. In view of the current situation, of which both sides are well aware, the Chinese Government deems it unsuitable to discuss and decide upon a date for the next meeting of the Sino-US ambassadorial talks at present. As to when it will be suitable for the meeting to be held in the future, it can be discussed by the liaison personnel of the two sides at an appropriate time. Our side will release news about this.” (Telegram 1687 from Warsaw, June 20; ibid., Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 700, Country Files, Europe, Poland Vol. II Warsaw Talks 2/1/70–6/30/70) No further Ambassadorial talks were held in Warsaw.

John H. Holdridge of the NSC staff prepared a June 7, 1971, summary memorandum and forwarded an 8-page report to Kissinger detailing the history of PRC negotiating tactics at the Warsaw talks. Holdridge concluded, “nothing of real substance was accomplished between 1955 and 1970.” (Ibid., Box 524, Country Files, Far East, Peoples’ Republic of China, Vol. I)