93. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • President Richard Nixon
  • C.K. Yen, Vice President of the Republic of China
  • Henry A. Kissinger, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs

The President opened the conversation by saying that the Canadian recognition of Communist China had disturbed some people, and was interpreted by some as a harbinger of what the United States would do.2 The President said that the U.S. position remained the same and we would continue to oppose the Red Chinese admission. He thought that the Canadian move was strictly political. In response to the President’s question, Dr. Kissinger commented that he thought the wheat deal played a significant role in the Canadian decision.

Vice President Yen said that even from the point of view of wheat it was a mistake. The Republic of China trades more with Canada than Red China does, apart from the wheat deal. The President said he wanted to make clear that we would maintain our vote in the U.N. on the traditional pattern. Yen said that perhaps the U.S. could help by getting Cambodia to vote against the Red Chinese admission. Cambodia had told Taiwan that it would consult its friends; they must have meant the United States.

The President asked Dr. Kissinger to look into this and see what could be done.

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Vice President Yen then said that the reduction of the military aid program was too drastic.3 He believed that military aid for Taiwan was now in much the same position as economic aid had been previously. It should be phased out over a period of years, but if it is phased out too dramatically it will lead to an erosion of confidence and undermine the eventual capability of the Chinese to take care of their own defense.

The President explained that there was a particular problem caused by the fact that military assistance program funds had to be found for Cambodia and had to be scratched together from a variety of sources. He gave Vice President Yen the personal information that on November 15, or as soon thereafter as possible, he would submit a supplemental to Congress which would attempt to restore a great deal of the military aid.

Dr. Kissinger explained that this had not yet been announced and therefore should be kept secret.

Vice President Yen pointed out that the President had always been very farsighted. For example, when the President had visited Taiwan for the first time in 1953 he had urged that Taiwan spend a great deal of its energy training overseas Chinese; some 30,000 have been trained and have returned to their countries. This was an example of the Nixon Doctrine in action.

Vice President Yen then turned to the Peng case.4 Dr. Kissinger pointed out that we had no legal basis for denying the visa and that actually Peng was attracting less attention in the country than he would have were he kept outside the country. The President added that the U.S. would take Taiwan’s views seriously into account in the future.

Vice President Yen then turned to the textile issue and maintained Hong Kong was getting more favorable treatment on the voluntary textile agreement than Taiwan. He also asked that the Central African Republic get a World Bank loan for a railway the Chinese were building.

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The President concluded the meeting by discussing the domestic situation. He said that the U.S. attitude toward Communist China had not really changed. We were keeping some lines of communication open but we will do so only at the Ambassadorial level and without any illusions.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL CHINATUS. Secret; Nodis. The meeting was held in the Oval Office. A November 10 memorandum by Lord transmitting a copy of this memorandum to Kissinger reads: “You [Kissinger] were the only other person at these meetings and I have boiled down and sanitized your personal notes. Your full records will go into your personal files.” (Ibid., Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 520, Country Files, Far East, China, Vol. V) No other record of this conversation has been found. According to the President’s Daily Diary, Yen and the President met from 3:21 to 3:59 p.m. (Ibid., White House Central Files)
  2. After over a year of negotiations, the Canadian Government and the People’s Republic of China announced the establishment of formal diplomatic relations on October 13, 1970. The U.S. response was detailed in telegram 171377 to all diplomatic posts, October 16; ibid., RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 16 CHICOM.
  3. Briefing materials for Nixon—prepared by the Department of State on October 22, then summarized by Kissinger—emphasized that the reduction in the FY 71 MAP funds did not indicate a change in the U.S. commitment to defend the ROC. Rather it resulted from the need to provide funds quickly for Cambodia’s military. (Memorandum from Acting Secretary U. Alexis Johnson to Nixon, and memorandum from Kissinger to Nixon; ibid., Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 520, Country Files, Far East, China, Vol. V) Chiang Kai-shek personally complained to representatives from the Departments of Defense and State about the MAP reduction, stating that “$13,000,000 was less than one-tenth of one percent of our [the U.S. Federal] budget. However, it was very critical to them.” (Reported by Armstrong in telegram 4269 from Taipei, October 1; ibid., RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, DEF 19 USCHINAT) Vice Chief of General Staff, General Louie Yen-chun, CAF, met with DOD/ISA officials on October 19 and Packard on October 23, in order to express concerns over military assistance. Both memoranda of conversation, October 30, are in Washington National Records Center, RG 330, ISA Secret Files: FRC 330 73 A 1975, China, Rep. of, 1970, 333 Jan. Additional documentation on MAP funding is in National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, DEF 12–5 CHINAT.
  4. See Document 91.