100. Letter From President Ford to Republic of China Premier Jiang Jingguo1

Dear Mr. Premier:

Thank you very much for the kind sentiments expressed in your letter of September 20. I particularly appreciate your thoughtful comments on our current relationship.2

As you observed, the depth and breadth of our ties is indeed impressive. We have both shown a determination to overcome problems. We can take mutual pride in our present relationship. I would like to express appreciation for the cooperative spirit displayed by your government through the years.

I also wish to mention my continuing admiration for the remarkable achievements of your government and your people. These are due in large part, I am convinced, to the extraordinary leadership of your distinguished father and yourself. During my visit to Taiwan in 1953, I was able to see many of the challenges which have confronted you. I therefore find your subsequent accomplishments all the more impressive. I am particularly gratified by the productive use your government has made of economic assistance provided by my government in earlier years. We continue to cite your achievements as an outstanding example of what a determined people can accomplish if given help when they most need it.

Upon assuming office, I stressed the continuity of American policies throughout the world. I also reaffirmed our worldwide commitments, including our commitment to the security of the Republic of [Page 647] China.3 I can assure you that we do not forget our friends. We will continue to value our cordial and constructive relationship.

Our policies throughout the world are designed to construct a framework for peace that will allow mankind’s intellectual and physical resources to be devoted increasingly to meeting our common challenges. We realize that this will not be an easy task and that firmness as well as conciliation will be required. I am sure that we can count on your cooperation in achieving this difficult goal desired by both of our peoples.


Gerald R. Ford
  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Presidential Correspondence with Foreign Leaders, 1974–77, Box 1, China, Republic of. No classification marking. A typed note on the letter indicates that it was “dispatched” on January 9. On January 6, Kissinger sent the President a draft of this letter under a covering memorandum that stated, “I believe a specific reaffirmation of the Mutual Defense Treaty would not now be wise as the overall direction of our China policy is to seek to sustain Taiwan’s security by political rather than legalistic means. We have not specifically affirmed the treaty over the last six months, and we will want to move away from it over the long run as the process of normalizing our relations with the People’s Republic of China progresses.” (Ibid.)
  2. Jiang’s post-inauguration letter to Ford, delivered by Ambassador Shen on October 9, praised Ford’s willingness to uphold U.S. commitments, discussed the importance of the 1954 Mutual Defense Treaty, and affirmed the value of the relationship between his country and the United States for the well-being of East Asia. (Ibid.) Smyser and Solomon agreed with the Department of State that a response to Jiang should be delayed until after Kissinger’s trip to Beijing, when they could better formulate a reply appropriate with the overall context of the administration’s China policy. (Memorandum from Smyser and Solomon to Kissinger, December 12; ibid.)
  3. A Department of State draft reply to Jiang suggested that “we appreciate your needs and interests, including your concern for Taiwan’s security.” (Ibid.) Kissinger, on the advice of Smyser and Solomon, strengthened this language to express a stronger American commitment to Taiwan’s security. In his covering memorandum to Ford, Kissinger argued, “This would not violate the spirit of our efforts to normalize relations with the PRC. It would also help to sustain the confidence of the Republic of China, which we need to do.”